Should parents shun the state sector and go private?

7 January 2010

Having been there and done it, I feel now that parents are usually best off sending their child to the local school as a government adviser recently suggested. Having helicoptered my child into a private school and seen him subjected to rote-learning and the barbaric, pointless competition of the private sector, I decided to pull him out and send him to our local primary school. He has flourished since, making friends in the area; he is much more motivated than he used to be. The advantages of living near to a school are numerous: your child is part of the community, can safely and easily get to school, and has time to do extra-curricula stuff such as playing music. Furthermore, state school teachers are better trained than their private counterparts, learning about the latest educational research on important matters such as Assessment for Learning and Visual, Audio and Kinaesthetic Learning.

I was talking in a very heated debate on Radio 5 Live about this with a private school teacher Simon Waugh who trotted out the usual cliches about indiscipline and poor standards. I said obviously there’s no room for complacency, but private schools tend to be much more complacent places, thinking that lecturing, copying, rote-learning is teaching, rather than active, problem-based learning.

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