Tuesday, 4 March 2008

The News

There were two stories in the news about education that caught my attention. The first is that many people struggle with maths and especially mental arithmetic. Many people wish they had learnt more maths at school. This surprised me a bit as first of all you would had done a lot of maths at school already and secondly failing to answer what the square root of 64 is isn't really high level maths. You should have been able to answer this before you even get to secondary school. The problem is more with the question being asked and knowing what a square root is. After a quick survey of two 12 year old both knew 8*8=64. I was then trying to work out the last time I had to calculate a square root for any purpose and failed. Conclusion - the survey set out to try and make it look bad or push an agenda. On a slight tangent what is the square root of 169. Did you use your memory or calculating skills?

The second story was on school selection. Recently was the first time that there was a universal day when students find out which secondary school they are going to. Schools can no longer select who comes to the school based on student ability, parental help for the school and a number of other criteria. In Brighton to try and make it fairer they have introduced a lottery to determine where you go. Before this it was mainly based on distance from the school and this is still the major concern. The problem then is that the house prices around a "successful" school rise and only the middle class parents win. The whole system now seems to be designed to discriminate against parents who care. Thus there is now no benefit for taking an interest in your child's education. If you are prepared to give up your time for the school, fill in forms expressing why little Johnny should go to or volunteer with the school association bad luck. What a fantastic way to help build a build school community and have a group of willing and helpful parents associated with the school, ensuring that their child is prepared and ready to learn. Whatever system you introduce parents who care will try and eek some advantage out of it. On a side note how do you measure a successful school. I have a good handle of the figures and I would not like to say which school in Norwich is the best, which figures are you going to look at?

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