Ron Glatter (emeritus professor of educational administration and management at the Open University):
A special report on the UK says that in Britain “both the within and between-school impact of socio-economic background on educational attainment are well above the OECD average”. In fact more of the variation between the performance of different schools is related to their socio-economic intake in the UK than in any of 33 other OECD countries except Luxembourg, though the US runs us close, the report finds.
And you know what that means, don’t you?
This indicates that achieving turnarounds in poor performance will be particularly difficult in the UK where policy-makers imply that most of the variation in performance is down to the competence of the school staff and the school’s “effectiveness”.
Maybe that’s because those are the only areas the policy-makers can influence? They can’t force parents to send their children to particular schools.
If politicians were serious about their oft-stated concern for the poor – and their claim to want to match the world’s best – they would do more to ensure that there is a better mix of pupils within schools, which the OECD has consistently urged.
It has found that increasing the social mix within schools boosts the performance of disadvantaged students without any apparent negative effect on overall performance.
So if the disadvantaged students get a performance boost, while the overall performance stays the same…then something must have decreased, mustn’t it? And that must be the performance of the non-disadvantaged students!
So what’s in it for the non-disadvantaged students and their parents? It seems like they would be the losers in this, sacrificed to the needs of the disadvantaged students.
And until there’s something tangible in it for them to offset the supposed decrease in performance, you just aren’t going to persuade them to send their children there.
Reducing our massive inequities will require jettisoning the notion that each school is expected to pull itself up by its own bootstraps whatever its circumstances and create proper structures for professional development, peer support and succession planning, together with strong social policies promoting equity.
And forcibly bussing the children of the Islington movers and shakers to a bog-standard Haringey comp over the anguished pleas of their parents? Because that’s what it’s going to take…
Tell you what; let’s start with all people who’ve written for CiF in the last five years, or who work for the Guardian. Fair?