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A Free Pass To Privilege.
What a surprise to learn that far from being a ladder to excellence for state kids, Michael Gove’s free schools are simply a queue-jumpers’ charter for pushy parents with the right contacts.
One in five of the Tory flagship schools are giving priority places to “children of founders” despite them being paid for by the taxpayer.
Free schools are turning out to be exactly what we expected – a free pass to privilege for middle-class parents who can’t afford to go private.
The day I’ll believe the Tories are serious about free schools is when Eton charges local parents from Slough nothing to send their kids there.
Which is never.

( Brian Reade, 09.05.2013 )

In Japan – In between lessons, older Japanese primary school pupils have to clean corriders and classrooms.
These extra duties are accepted as part of the school’s role in teaching youngsters essential discipline and life skills.
English has become a compulsory primary subject since April 2012, so Japanese children can compete with other Asian countries.

In the USA – Primary pupils start doing multiplication at seven and eight.
They are expected to know how to add and subtract by seven.
President Obama unveiled massive investment in teaching to tackle the chronic underspending.
He wants poor children to get the same chance to succeed in publicly funded schools.

In Singapore – Their school leavers are doing our old GCE O-Levels, which were replaced by far easier GCSEs here.

In Hong Kong – Their equivalent of our GCSE grade A is a C.

In Germany – School starts at six, but many kids go to forest kindergarten first, for children aged three to six, and the focus is on playing, exploring and learning in the natural environment.
Typical activities include building shelters from branches, memory games from natural objects, climbing trees and hide-and-seek.
From age six to nine, pupils have one teacher for basic skills like reading, writing and maths.
They also learn local history, geography and biology.

In France – French youngsters don’t have to go to school until they are six, but many parents send them to state nursery classes from as young as two.
Reading starts in the final year of nursery.
Because the school week only has to cover 24 hours contact time with the teacher, most children have Wednesdays off.
Currently an hour and a half is devoted to a foreign language, often English.
Eight to ten hours are set aside for reading and grammar.

In recent years the government has banned the use of modern teaching methods in all primary schools, insisting on a return to more traditional teaching of the language.
Children don’t wear uniforms.

In Finland – It has no league tables or targets.
Instead it relies on its teachers to prepare their lessons.
As a result of the added responsibility and input, teaching there is the most sought-after career in the country.
All teachers have to have a Master’s degree, thus enhancing the status of the profession.
In England you can qualify with a third-class degree.

In China – The primary school curriculum consists of Chinese, mathematics, physical education, music, basic science, history and geography, combined with practical work experience around the school campus.
All primary schools are required to offer morality and ethics and English is often introduced at age seven.
The development of primary education in China over the past 60 years has been a formidable achievement.
In 1949, enrolment rates were around 20%, today they are over 98%.

Children must be taught how to think.
Not what to think.

( Margaret Mead )

What Should Be Said To Every Child.
Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this:
You are in the process of being indoctrinated.
We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination.
We are sorry, but it is the best we can do.
What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture.
The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be.
You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors.
It is a self-perpetuating system.
Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself, educating your own judgements.
Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.

( Doris Lessing )

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