Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Children Are Punished for Going to Good Schools

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Children Are Punished for Going to Good Schools

Article excerpt

Byline: EMMA DUNCAN

NEWS of the latest salvo in a strange war between parents and the Government comes from Durham University, which has turned down a boy from St Paul's School with four A grades at A-level.

He was rejected because his eight A* grades at GCSE were no more than average for his school, and Durham -- on the basis of recommendations from the National Council for Educational Excellence, endorsed by ministers -- requires pupils to outperform their school average.

Conscientious parents reckon their job is to get their children as good an education as possible. The Government takes the view that its job is to prevent some children from getting an advantage over others. While there are obviously limits to this -- it does not send the police in to raid the houses of those parents caught reading to their children or feeding them Omega 3 supplements -- it has been conducting a determined and inventive campaign to stop parents from securing their children places in good schools.

A recent example of this was the Government's neat counter-attack on those parents who thought they could sneak into good state schools by buying houses in their catchment areas. Many local authorities have cut them off at the flank by allocating places not on the basis of distance from school but randomly, by lottery. Ha! Got you! Still, some schools remain a lot better than others. That's partly because no government has dared abolish independent schools and partly because state schools are of very variable quality. But now ministers have devised a cunning counter-counter-attack on those who have managed to evade its assaults on school admissions. They are using the high-quality secondary education that parents have been struggling to get for their children as a disqualification for high-quality tertiary education. In other words, the better the school you went to, the lower your chances of getting into a good university. Brilliant! Faced with this Catch-22, some parents are taking extreme measures. …

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