Friday, 19 November 2010

Cash for Votes & School Czars

Two Fifa executive committee members have been banned from voting in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting ballot over claims they asked for money in exchange for World Cup votes. In that case, shouldn’t the general public stand in the dock accused of asking politicians for money (tax breaks) in return for votes?

The government here is stimulating competition between schools with the reward for the best performers being access to funds. Those not performing will have funds withdrawn and reallocated to those which are performing. The funding pot is, I would imagine, finite and fixed, therefore there will be winners and losers.

This seems idiotic to me. Schools in the state sector should not be competing against other state schools – they should be competing against independent schools – on a united front.

When I go into an M&S store in Blackpool, or indeed any high street chain, I am safe in the knowledge that I will get exactly the same products, quality and levels of service as at a flagship store in London. Why the hell can’t this happen in the nation’s state schools? Why does it have to be a postcode lottery as to whether the school to which I send my kids is fit for purpose or not?

Withdrawing funds from a badly performing school makes failure a self-fulfilling prophesy and does no service to the children or parents in their locale. What’s probably needed is an increase in funds, better management, better teaching talent and a cull of the incompetent. It would seem to me that the authorities can only sack a teacher if he or she is found to be sleeping with the pupils.

Perhaps the brand marketing men from the world of commerce should be put in charge of schools, rather than politicians, thus ensuring services are common throughout the system.

Yes, I do realise that the raw materials that schools have to work on differ according to locality, but as long as the skills, processes and facilities are equal throughout the system, parents can have nothing to complain about if little Johnny can’t bother his arse to learn anything or they themselves do little to encourage him.

The government approach will produce nothing less than a two-tier system – one for the reasonably affluent and pushy and another for the poor. I firmly believe that giving someone money to incentivise them does not generally work (certainly not in the long term – just look at footballers); however, taking money away from them sure as hell demotivates and demoralises them.

Here’s a novel idea – instead of putting Sir Philip Green in charge of cost savings, put him in charge of ensuring schools provide a common and homogeneous level of service throughout the country. As a high street emporium baron he’s well qualified to achieve the goal.


  1. It is this over-riding belief that the market and competition can solve all problems. Quite loony.

  2. Wasn't it called the Comprehensive system?

  3. Anon: Not necessarily. I have no problem with the secondary modern and grammar school system - they at least afforded a good education to all and entry was dictated by merit and not location. Both provided a harmonised education, but at different speeds.

    Even in a comprehensive system you're going to have differing abilities.

    The problem today is government and their continuous tinkering to make it look as if education is improving under successive governments.