Professional bleeding-heart Martin Narey on the Today programme, responding to the Naughtie suggestion that 'the revamping of education in the Seventies has failed to to what it claimed it would do'. Naughtie can't quite bring himself to say the word 'comprehensive'.
He also suggested that 'we need to make sure that children from deprived backgrounds go to the best schools'. Well, Martin, if all of them go there they won't be the best schools any more. At the extreme, take ASBO Community College, serving the giant Chavbury Estate, and move all the kids to fee-paying St Goody Two-Shoes, while St Goody's get to go to the comp. They'll miss the great sports facilities but they'll still get impressive results, while the teachers wonder if they've died and gone to heaven, bar a few noble souls who miss the challenge.
Back at St Goody's staff turnover will have dramatically accelerated, the Apple Macs will be vanishing from the computer suites, and results will be up - but nowhere near ASBO's, which has suddenly got a waiting list.
A better idea would be to take the brightest and most hardworking kids (not always the same population) into the best schools. How can we find them ? I wouldn't allow the primary heads to nominate the kids - the scope for corruption (by well-off parents) would be immense. Tell you what - how about an exam ?
(A sad little note from the Wikipedia entry on grammar schools :
In July 1958 the Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell formally abandoned the Tripartite system, calling for "grammar-school education for all". The party's fiercest opponent of the Grammar school was Gaitskell's protégé, Anthony Crosland.
Hugh Gaitskell was educated at Winchester and Oxford.
Anthony Crosland was educated at Highgate School and Oxford.
God protect the working class from their upper-class defenders !)