Sunday, November 25, 2012

'Pupil premium': British schools will be paid hundreds of pounds to let poorer children jump the queue for places

Each lower-income child would bring £900 a year but few schools are likely to go for it.  Even though it is unmentionable,  everybody knows that is the pupils that make the school, not the teaching or the buildings.  Poor pupils are usually the disruptive ones and letting them into a school would ensure that it is no longer a desirable school
Schools are being urged to let poorer pupils jump the queue for places in return for hundreds of pounds in extra funding per child.

Ministers are inviting schools and councils to abandon admissions rules which forbid selection on the basis of family finances and give low-income families priority over the middle-classes.  Each lower-income child who is admitted under the initiative would bring ‘pupil premium’ funding to the school – worth £900 next year.

The move is being championed by David Laws, the new Liberal Democrat schools minister, who hopes to curtail so-called ‘selection by mortgage’, where families can improve their chances of getting into a popular school by buying a home nearby.

The plans risk provoking a middle-class backlash and accusations of social engineering.

Schools would be allowed to discriminate in favour of children who attract ‘pupil premium’ funding because they are on free school meals - or have been registered for free meals at any time over the last six years.

Children are eligible for free meals if their parents are on a range of benefits or the family’s annual income is less than £16,190. Up to 1.77million children attract the pupil premium.
The Coalition has already altered the admissions code to enable self-governing academies and free schools to prioritise children who attract the premium.

It is now considering extending the freedom to all state schools. They would have ‘discretion’ over how much priority they give to pupil premium children.

An Education Department spokesman said: ‘We are determined to narrow the unacceptable gap in attainment between children from different backgrounds.’


British universities tsar warns 'dreadful snobbery' wrongly forces students into taking degrees

School leavers must ignore the ‘dreadful snobbery’ which forces them to go to study for a degree, the universities watchdog has warned.  Sir Les Ebdon said too much pressure was put on pupils to get into Oxford or Cambridge, regardless of whether it is the right for them to do.

He also warned that some black and minority ethnic parents in particular were too focussed on their children studying law and medicine at top universities, and missed out on places elsewhere as a result.

Sir Les became the head of the Office for Fair Access in September, with a remit to improve the number of children from poor backgrounds who gain a degree.

Education Secretary Michael Gove ordered the publication of ‘destination data’ on where pupils go after A Levels, and challenged schools who resign themselves to children doing badly.

‘Once you accept that a child is likely to do less well than his contemporaries, you condemn that child to fall further and further behind, to never know the satisfaction of pushing  himself beyond his limits, to be a prisoner of others’ prejudice,’ Mr Gove has warned. ‘The victim of the bigotry of low expectations.’

But Sir Les, in an interview with the Times Educational Supplement, said the focus on universities meant schools risked ignoring vocational courses and apprenticeships which could be better for pupils who should be ‘choosing the subjects in which they excel and enjoy’.

He said schools should be encouraging students to take ‘the most appropriate route to realise their full potential’ and warned that society ‘really undervalues apprenticeships’.

Sir Les added: ‘One of our problems is there's such a dreadful snobbery about whether people go to university or which university they go to.  ‘I would hate to see that work through into undue pressure on schools.’

He said black and minority ethnic students are put under pressure by their parents to apply for medicine and law courses at Oxford and Cambridge, despite those courses being some of the most over-subscribed.

‘This is one of the reasons that some groups are underrepresented at some universities. We should be treating people as individuals.

‘This perceived feeling in our society that to be a doctor or lawyer is a high-status profession that black people aspire to for their children... there's nothing wrong with it, but the most important thing is that students should be encouraged to fulfil their full potential in whatever subject that is.’


After effectively barring Ann Coulter from campus, Fordham University welcomes infanticide advocate Peter Singer

After effectively barring conservative columnist Ann Coulter from speaking on campus last week, the Jesuit college Fordham University welcomed infanticide and bestiality advocate Peter Singer for a panel discussion on Friday.

According to Fordham’s media relations website, Singer, a tenured Princeton bioethics professor, spoke from 4 to 6 p.m. in a panel the university promised “will provoke Christians to think about other animals in new ways.”

Singer has long lamented the societal stigma against having sex with animals.  “Not so long ago,” Singer wrote in one essay, “any form of sexuality not leading to the conception of children was seen as, at best, wanton lust, or worse, a perversion. One by one, the taboos have fallen. But … not every taboo has crumbled.”

In the essay, titled “Heavy Petting,” Singer concluded that “sex across the species barrier,” while not normal, “ceases to be an offence [sic] to our status and dignity as human beings.”

“Occasionally mutually satisfying activities may develop” when humans have sex with their pets, he claimed.

In addition to supporting bestiality and immediately granting equal legal rights to animals, Singer has also advocated euthanizing the mentally ill and aborting disabled infants on utilitarian grounds.

In his 1993 essay “Taking Life,” Singer, in a section called “Justifying Infanticide and Non-Voluntary Euthanasia,” wrote that “killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person.”  “Very often it is not wrong at all,” he added, noting that newborns should not be considered people until approximately a month after their birth.

Both Singer and his supporters maintain that ethics experts must often confront taboo topics to arrive at greater philosophical truths.

The Catholic Cardinal Newman Society’s blog spoke out against Fordham’s decision to allow Singer a speaking event in a recent blog post. “Be assured, this is not a Peter Singer scandal. This is a Fordham scandal. The moderator of the event is Charles Camosy, a Fordham theologian,” the society wrote.

However, James Schall, a Jesuit and a senior government professor at Georgetown University, defended Singer’s appearance at Fordham in an email to The Daily Caller.

“Basically, the Church is not afraid of any idea, if it has a fair chance freely to explain its own position,” Schall said. “Normally, a university is the place, but this [issue] demands more liberty to hear the Catholic view than most places permit.”

Schall also condemned Singer’s views in no uncertain terms.  “His position is lethal really, and incoherent, but too much of the culture accepts it,” Schall added.


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