School for thought

I went to a private school. I’m not from a particularly wealthy or privileged background; in fact my parents were paying for my private education while we lived in a one bedroom flat in Lewisham. They felt that the local state school was not up to scratch and wanted to give me the best start that they could. Other families simply move to the catchment area of a good local state school, often pushing property prices up by as much as 30% in the process.

Both of these solutions are expensive and are therefore not available to families with little money to spare, they are forced to send their children to the local state school irrespective of its standards. For the parents of black boys this is of particular concern because, for a range of reasons, the current state system is not working for them. Conservatives will give options to families who cannot buy choice, who cannot move to the good postcodes or afford private schools.

The unfortunate truth is that black families are often in lower income brackets and are most disadvantaged by the current situation. Rather than admit that there are deep problems the government wastes time and money on well intentioned but ineffective initiatives and counterproductive targets.

Labour has also made it harder for young people to go to university, firstly by introducing tuition fees and now by increasing them to £3,000. Not only is this the opposite of what they promised but yet again it discriminates against poorer families.

Conservative plans are simple but wide ranging. Giving power back to head teachers will improve school discipline and ensure that those children who want to learn are not held back by those who don’t. If the nearest school does not reach the expectations of parents they will have the right to send the child to a different school, no more postcode lottery, no need to buy out of the problem.

A Conservative government would start with a clean sheet of paper, we would give choice to parents and freedom to teachers, we would address the downgrading of exam standards, we would take vocational training seriously and we would scrap university tuition fees.

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