Monday, 17 March 2008

What they really think

A couple of items of correspondence which have come to our attention over the last few days speak volumes about some people's attitude to schools in the Rother Valley, and the state school system in general.

Firstly, Mark Dunn. Does anybody know where his own children went to school, or indeed, where Mr Dunn himself weas educated? If you do, please let us know, we would be fascinated to discover the level of commitment Cllr Dunn has demonstrated to the system of state schooling upon which the vast majority of us rely. Given his strong advocacy of private schools, and criticism of the Conservative party for not pushing hard enough to dismantle the state system (http://www.markdunn.org.uk/issues/education-bill.html), we have to wonder. In correspondence with a NAME supporter, Cllr Dunn writes: "Many children in the Rother Valley need to have a very much better local educational opportunity...far too many are going elsewhere, to schools which have significantly better results than MGS, which - with its catchment area - ought to be a high performer, and not just /satisfactory/ - which is code for /'just adequate'/." (The somewhat eccentric use of elipses and other punctuation is his own.) What a shame that Cllr Dunn is unable to defend the record of the many hardworking children and staff at the Grammar School who have so successfully pulled the school out of its bad patch. What an indictment of their efforts that he describes them as 'just adequate'.

Cllr Dunn's recipe for success is for Rother Valley children to mix with those more refined and cultured than themselves, who might raise their aspirations. Where better to turn to but Winchester College? The only problem is that the parents of Wintonians may not be so bowled over by the idea. This message from a Winchester College parent was posted to the Times newspaper this week: "If I've just paid £26k p.a. for my child's education, thus saving the State a small fortune to spend on another child, I'm sure I wouldn't want the schools facilities or staff over-used in a silly political ploy to support the failing State system. This recent business is nothing but a reflection of NuLabour's reek of class warfare and envy. There is nothing wrong with elitism and everything wrong with mediocrity." I'm not making this up - see for yourself: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/education/article3533760.ece?Submitted=true. Again, the message couldn't be clearer. State schooling is mediocre. Always was and always will be 'just adequate'. However, in contrast with Cllr Dunn, this angry parent is not happy about our children even picking up the crumbs from his table. Isn't it pleasing to know, Mr Dunn, that our children will be made so welcome at one of England's most elitist and expensive schools?

Just for the record, as a measure of how 'mediocre' or 'just adequate' our schools are, on the Government's figures Midhurst Grammar adds more 'value' to children's attainment from the point of entry to GCSEs than does the average Academy. The MGS 'contextual value added' score is 1002, the Academies' average is 981.

7 comments:

Jane Crockett said...

As a successful product of the state education system I am horrified about the possibility of my daughter attending a Secondary School that is working in partnership with Winchester College.

I achieved 3 very good A levels, went to a top 10 university and have had a successful career working in a number of blue chip companies. A lot of this success is due to the broad-based and balanced education I received.

I think the suggestion that Winchester College is the pinacle of educational achievement is a slap in the face for every teacher working in the state education system.

I do not want an academy and I definitely do not want an academy that is partnered to Winchester College.

Jane Crockett

Trabb's Boy said...

Thank you Jane. Mark Dunn, cabinet member for CYPS, was publicly stating at the public meeting in Lodsworth that parents in West Sussex want a "conveyor belt" education (from primary to Oxbrigde). He would like for everyone to believe that good parents want private schools. He actually said to one parent "You are depriving your child of the good opportunity"!

Parents who do think private schools may have something to offer may also want to consider this: the UCAS co-ordinator at MGS recently wrote to Mark Dunn reminding him that you are now statistically more likely to go to Oxbridge from a state school like MGS than you are from an independent one like WC.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of us out there that have been educated in the state system, and acheived well. If I wanted my children to be privately educated (which I don't) I would pay. Why do thecounty think that this is what we want? I want a broad and balanced education that teaches my children to live in the real world.

Anonymous said...

Your personal question about where Mr Dunn himself was educated is uncalled for. Maybe someone should ask Mr Boxley where he himself was educated - this might give some clue as some of the foundation for his strong opposition.

Trabb's Boy said...

Why do you think it is uncalled for? I am not asking rhetorically or sarcastically- I do want to know why you feel this way.

If a politician publicly says that independent schools are better than state ones, if he believes that private schools should be brought into the running of publicly-funded schools (writing things like "The independent sector will have to make the running because the state sector is being held back by the Government's doctrinal problems, while the Opposition seems to be frightened of speaking up against a pretty silly, fudged way of setting about achieving high standards.") and that if that politician has the ultimate power over the fate of state schools (as in the Rother Valley), is it actually unreasonable to want to know how well that person knows and understands the state sector? The few minutes I listened to Cllr Dunn speak, he seemed to have a very antagonistic view towards our schools and state schooling in general.

As for Mr Boxley, which Mr Boxley do you mean? How do you suppose who wrote the blog entry? I will ask both Mr Boxleys if they would be willing to answer your request.

Resist! said...

FYI, Rev Boxley was educated first in a state school, and then in Christs Hospital. He later went on the teach at Midhurst Grammar School for 33 years. Mr Boxley was educated at West Lavington Primary, Midhurst Intermediate and Midhurst Grammar, Southampton University, the Froebel Institute, Roehampton, and the University of Winchester. How about you...?

Anonymous said...

state educated througout, but was appalled with the state of both MIS and MGS when we visited them with a view to our children being educated there.