Choices

“Coffee please”.

Try saying that in any café, restaurant, branded coffee shop or private home. You would probably get a funny look and then be bombarded with a series of choices. Latté, cappuccino, Americano, macchiato? Skimmed milk, semi skimmed or whole, fair trade, decaf, semi decaf, flavoured syrups, drink in or take away? The list seems almost endless.

Try getting your children into a school. Even if you are in a position to pay for their education don’t think that you are holding all the aces, assessment days and waiting lists will greet even the most affluent of parents.

If you don’t have the money for private education the choices are even more limited. Pray that your local state school has a good track record, some parents they just pray that it doesn’t have a drug or crime problem. Even then you may well find that school heavily oversubscribed and the council allocate your child a place on the other side of the borough, or the borough next door.

You could move to a house next door to the best local school, but that will come at a premium, you could try to get into the local church school but you might need to pretend to be religious.
You have many options but not much choice.

How have we come this? How is it that even mediocre schools pick and choose which children they take in and parents have to take what they can get?

It’s a sellers’ market, that’s why.

Definition:
A market which has more buyers than sellers. High prices result from this excess of demand over supply.

Education vouchers may well prove to be part of the solution but there will not be change throughout the market until there is a massive increase in the supply of education. Indeed there needs to be a surplus of supply, otherwise the parents with sharp elbows will get the choices and the meek will once again get what they’re given.

It would be wrong for the public sector to run service provision at surplus capacity, I don’t want to pay tax to fund half empty schools. This means that there must be a massive expansion in the private and charity run sector. Then education vouchers would make sense because all parents, irrespective of geography or wealth, would be able to send their child to a good school.

Poorly performing schools would whither and others would fill the gaps if they close down. Good schools would flourish and if they reach capacity the surplus demand would be taken up by a new school in the area.

“School please”.

In the future, you will get a funny look and a list of choices. Girls only, boys only, co-educational, academic or vocational? Arts specialisation, languages, sports, science, technology or business? Religious, secular, etc. etc. etc.

12 responses to “Choices

  1. The logical conclusion of your proposals is that only a few state schools would survive while most parents would have to pay, at least in part, for their child’s private school place.Small excess capacity is necessary in any public service. We should not be queueing up for schools, hospitals, rubbish collection, just like we should have excess capacity in electricity production, water supply, and seats on trains.The best solution is to spend more money on education, but of course to spend it wisely and bring state education closer to the standards provided in the private sector. It should not be impossible, if money works for private schools why won’t it work in the state system?

  2. The logical conclusion of your proposals is that only a few state schools would survive while most parents would have to pay, at least in part, for their child’s private school place.Small excess capacity is necessary in any public service. We should not be queueing up for schools, hospitals, rubbish collection, just like we should have excess capacity in electricity production, water supply, and seats on trains.The best solution is to spend more money on education, but of course to spend it wisely and bring state education closer to the standards provided in the private sector. It should not be impossible, if money works for private schools why won’t it work in the state system?

  3. I disagree James – I don’t think parents want to have to choose between a dozen different types of schools, they just want a decent local school near where they live and that’s what governors, PTAs, councils, the government and communities as a whole should be focussing on, not stepping back to grammar school style segregation based on ability or wealth.

  4. I disagree James – I don’t think parents want to have to choose between a dozen different types of schools, they just want a decent local school near where they live and that’s what governors, PTAs, councils, the government and communities as a whole should be focussing on, not stepping back to grammar school style segregation based on ability or wealth.

  5. It’s not the ‘logical conclusion’ that most parents would have to pay private fees. However, it is widely acknowledged that their are mechanisms right now that mean ‘pushy’ richer parents can get access to better state provided education. The liberalization of the system with more groups allowed to start new schools will automatically create excess capacity. I agree with Sue that people don’t necessarily want a cornucopia of different options. I think that the widening of providers is a means to an end. That end being a better quality of childhood and a better quality of life.

  6. It’s not the ‘logical conclusion’ that most parents would have to pay private fees. However, it is widely acknowledged that their are mechanisms right now that mean ‘pushy’ richer parents can get access to better state provided education. The liberalization of the system with more groups allowed to start new schools will automatically create excess capacity. I agree with Sue that people don’t necessarily want a cornucopia of different options. I think that the widening of providers is a means to an end. That end being a better quality of childhood and a better quality of life.

  7. Choice is goodThe present system drives out that choice and we need to take action to restore it.Education vouchers for parents, all schools to run themselves, with increased support from the generous education vouchers .. funded by the total abolition of Council Education departments and the slimming down of the Dept for Education to just a quality benchmarks body.Billions’s £’s freed up for schools and a whole army of useless, pen-pushing politiclly correct tosspots will have to get a real job. If they canWin-win for children, parents and the taxpayer.

  8. Choice is goodThe present system drives out that choice and we need to take action to restore it.Education vouchers for parents, all schools to run themselves, with increased support from the generous education vouchers .. funded by the total abolition of Council Education departments and the slimming down of the Dept for Education to just a quality benchmarks body.Billions’s £’s freed up for schools and a whole army of useless, pen-pushing politiclly correct tosspots will have to get a real job. If they canWin-win for children, parents and the taxpayer.

  9. .. ohAnd while we are at it close down teacher training colleges as wellWith the increased money available schools will be able to pick the graduates they like and fund their training on the job, or buy in teachers from the excellent commercial training colleges that would spring up in the open market to fulfil the demand.Sad for the thousands of Left wing ‘trainers’ though. Failed at teaching themselves and now out of a job again.Back to waiting for the revolution I suppose…..

  10. .. ohAnd while we are at it close down teacher training colleges as wellWith the increased money available schools will be able to pick the graduates they like and fund their training on the job, or buy in teachers from the excellent commercial training colleges that would spring up in the open market to fulfil the demand.Sad for the thousands of Left wing ‘trainers’ though. Failed at teaching themselves and now out of a job again.Back to waiting for the revolution I suppose…..

  11. Sue,To a starving man bread and water would seem like a feast. The fact that so many parents would settle for a good school at the end of their street only goes to show that their expectations have been depressed.People do want choice, in every walk of like people show that they want choices. Education is to important an issue to promote a one size fits all agenda.

  12. Sue,To a starving man bread and water would seem like a feast. The fact that so many parents would settle for a good school at the end of their street only goes to show that their expectations have been depressed.People do want choice, in every walk of like people show that they want choices. Education is to important an issue to promote a one size fits all agenda.

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