Sunday 21 February 2010

'Competition' = selection

Al the main political parties' plans to 'deregulate' Local Authority schooling through Academies, Trusts and (for the Tories) so-called 'free schools' are based on the neo-liberal idea that 'competition' raises standards.

The recession shows what free-market competition can do to the economy - and it is doing the same damage to education. Competition between schools is bound to mean choosing the pupils that can get the 'best' results for the least input - and excluding those that need more support.

Just as Labour's plans built on Thatcherism, now the Tories want to go further than Labour and introduce 'Free Schools' modelled on Sweden. Realising that the block on open profit-making in Academies has put-off sponsors, free schools can make profits.

But the Anti-Academies Alliance, quoting from Swedish educationalists, explains just what this competition means: "This competition between schools that was one of the reasons for introducing the new schools, has not led to better results. The students in the new schools they have in general better standards, but it has to do with their parents, their backgrounds. They come from well-educated families."

Competition means selection. Selection looks after the few at the expense of the many. Unfortunately, that seems to be what the main parties all stand for.

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