“vapid happy talk” – No, really…? Gove climb down!

Apparently, according to a major study by the Sutton Trust reported last month, Independent School applicants for University write better personal statements than their state-sector counterparts.

Says the BBC “The Sutton Trust says pupils from independent schools are more likely to shine in their “personal statements. It says their applications are generally better written and list more prestigious, relevant activities than those of state-school pupils”.

This report continues to plough the very unnecessary field covering why can’t the ‘also-rans’ keep up with the ‘Jones’.  The vast majority of our great classical dancers and musicians have come through an elite talent program that lasts for 7-10 years or more, funded by government of all persuasions.  The major things most Olympians have in common are parents and families that will do their best to ensure their children are supported, irrespective of personal cost.  The average age and longevity of our successful athletes indicates this support carries on long into adulthood. At the independent school I run, throughout the child’s time with us, we look at building the personal skills, confidence, competence and considerateness that make them exceptionally well-rounded, contributing school leavers.  For many, it won’t matter what others decide (Uni, employer) because we have given them an internal engine to power their own destiny.

But stop – just for a moment – because at a time of almost constant crisis for state education, now is not the time to compare between the two sectors.  I spend enough time with heads from both camps to know the following:

One set (us pwivate peeps) have only to deal with the law of the market place, a raging financial crisis across our client group, but fundamentally a client group (parents as customers, children as consumers) who value us and want to come to school each day.

The second set (out of proportionally bigger than the pps at 93%-7%) have to deal with a marketplace law that is chaotic at best and irredeemably unfair at worst, a financial and political crisis that strikes to the very heart of DfE and its senior civil servants, and a client group told almost every day that provisions compared with us ‘pwivates’ is beyond the basement worst.

And the person telling them is their elected Secretary of State – children know nothing, exams are too easy, buildings are condemned as dilapidated, smacking is good, and after 6 months of travail, miLud has yet to determine whether those children downgraded below C are to have their initial grades reinstated.  Confidence in his probity took a further dive this last weekend, when it emerged (as published in the national press) that tax-payers money had funded the inappropriate tweeting by government advisers – read that detail here

The last 10 days of education news has so much serious educational change highlighted over the next few years that the moving target has become a blur – either that or it has actually disappeared up the minister’s own ego.  Scrap GCSEs, A levels to change, main school curriculum to move from skills to knowledge, and the end of school sport as they know it

Michael Gove has already said that if he is wrong, on his head be it – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-20610137 – OK independent and state schools are as of one, as are the select committee and pretty much every university, exam board and teaching union, I feel we should urge Gove to Go, and Go now.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said (Wednesday 6 Feb) about the new knowledge curriculum: “The core academic subjects most valued by universities and employers are those that make up the EBC. Far from being outdated, this new standard will make sure that all children have a solid foundation for the path they wish to follow.

Where do the remaining new and fresh, inexperienced DfE people come from (fly-on-the-wall anecdotes says anyone good has long flown the nest) that spout this rubbish.  The Universities mentioned represent those that consider themselves elite, the self-determining Russell Group, and they simply don’t want the arms race to get hotter  – and anyway read what a leading headteacher thinks of that here – http://goo.gl/YwP63.

Hilda Clarke, Headteacher of the Tiffin school makes it as clear as I could about the apparent wholesale destruction of the artistic landscape. She warned in the Independent Newspaper “if the Group did not speak out strongly – you will have presided over the death of these enriching subjects in schools, ultimately depriving a generation of this country’s young people a balanced, meaningful and fulfilling experience in their most formative years.”

So the question dear reader is this: is the entire educational landscape that seems lined up against Mr Gove that are wrong, or is our Secretary of State for Education actually drowning in his own hyperbole?  And guess what – breaking news as this article goes to press on Thursday 6 Feb 2013, Mr Gove is cimbing down on the GCSE cancellation…http://goo.gl/4k6if – just as schools have refocussed their children on the EBC core!

And as our own Independent school simply is even more divorced now from all this state sector nonsense, is it no surprise that our students applying for University of whatever colour actually are confident about what they want to study there and can write a compelling case to support their application?  Yes really!

About jameswilding

Academic Principal Claires Court Schools Long term member & advocate of the Independent Schools Association
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1 Response to “vapid happy talk” – No, really…? Gove climb down!

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