Education, education, education

King Henry VIII school in Coventry viewed from...

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I spent a considerable number of hours last night determining the future prospects of my 3-year-old. If you think that that sounds like an over-reaction, then I would respectfully suggest that you are wrong. My son’s education is going to define him and his path through life in a most decisive and important way. It’s simply not something you can leave to guesswork or happenstance.

I was very fortunate in that I had a very good primary school just up the road from where I lived as a child – Allesley Primary School, if you are interested – which gave me a good enough grounding that I was able to gain a bursary to a local grammar school (King Henry VIII School, Coventry). My parents were not well off, so the bursary helped, but even so, if it had not been for my Grandmother basically handing over her pension to pay for my fees, I wouldn’t have been able to go.

Anyway, back to the present. I’ve seen children’s futures ruined by poor education. And I feel that the education system we now have is making matters worse, rather than better than it was in my day (1970’s and 80’s. I am fearful for my son’s future. If I had the means,  I would pay good money to get him out of the system and into private education. So my only hope is to get him into a good primary school where his potential (assuming he has some – he’s only 3 and a half, after all) can be nurtured. Here, perhaps, I am over-reacting a little, as I think that secondary education will be more influential on his future than primary education. Nevertheless, the grounding he receives over the coming few years will determine the type of secondary education he can get, and so it is not insignificant.

The ‘lottery’ system that Brighton and Hove City Council employs to determine where a child is placed has received criticism (one example). I am not a fan, but I can’t think of a better way to do this either, and there’s no doubt that it has been mis-represented in the press. I’m unfortunate in that, where I live, there’s not a great choice of primary education and so my preferred choices for school are not necessarily my nearest. All I can do now is wait until April 27, when the Council’s ‘decision’ as to my son’s  future will be emailed to me.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

4 thoughts on “Education, education, education

  1. Too true! And what a way to decide on a child’s education, let alone your own child’s!
    I experienced this same predicament when my son was of primary school age. We applied to the same (good) school my daughter attended but we told we were out of the catchment area! We appealed but lost. Surprise.

    I would like to say that I was fortunate enough (at the time) to opt-out of the state system and put my son through private education, but I couldn’t really afford it at the time. But I (we) just struggled on – I mean, you only get one shot at this so you HAVE to do the best you can, no question! There was no way I was going to let a bunch of bureaucrats dictate how my son’s education was going to fan out!

    All the best Ady… my fingers and toes are all crossed for the little one (it really shouldn’t be like this!).

    • Thanks for the comment, Donald.

      What really gets me riled is that, because the schools near us (including our 3 preferred schools) are over-subscribed, we end up having to make our preferences based on the chance of a place, rather than the quality of the school. If we were to put them in the order of prefference, we would most likely miss out on all three of them (because my #1 choice is the most over-subscribed) and end up at the nearby catch-all school, which no-one wants their child to attend.


      I don’t know how it was when my parents were in this position (and my parents aren’t around any more to ask) but there’s no doubt that the concern it creates for both me and my other half is not healthy.

  2. Well you know what happened to mine Ady – but then Joe did ok in a school with a 25% GCSE pass rate. It depends on the attitudes of the teachers. If they are positive, they can make a huge difference to outcomes. One can get obssessed with worrying about their education when there is sod all you can do about it. I made myself ill, and I don’t think it affected the outcome.

    My advice would be, whatever school they end up in, to keep an eye on the situation all the time – don’t think that SAT grades mean anything more than that the child has been coached to pass a SAT. Check their general understanding of subjects with basic, fundamental questions -if they look mystified, it’s possibly that they haven’t taken it in at school, or that they haven’t been taught it at all. If they seem to have missed something vital, it will have long-term repercussions when they move on to more complex work.

    And remember #1 – education these days means that even a fourteen year old must know what a frustrum is.

    Remember #2 – there are 80,000 unemployed graduates. Sometimes I wonder if our children have a better chance in life these days if they can just get some practical experience behind them instead of £40k of debt.

    • Ah, yes. “Every frustum wants to be a cone”, as Stanislav Lem once wrote.

      Thanks for your insight (and experience). I’ll have to see what happens at the end of April; I could be worrying about nothing. However, regardless of where he ends up, I’ll be keeping a close eye on his education and abilities.

      Of course there are other factors that determine how one’s children develop, but the education system is the one that I am currently worried about.

      I do think that a good education is worthwhile, whether or not there are jobs. Experience (and – if only you could get them – apprenticeships) mean a lot but it’s still difficult to get the latter without a modicum of the former. And besides being able to make a living, having a good educational background gives you the skills you need to: research, verify, contemplate, create and, of course, learn more.

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