Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The desperation to get kids into a good British school

Rocketing numbers of parents are fraudulently trying to get their children into the country’s best state schools.

They are being caught using false addresses, pretending to be Roman Catholic, lying about siblings and even impersonating family members in an attempt to secure places.

Over the past five years, the number of council investigations into suspicious applications has risen almost 11-fold, a Daily Mail investigation has found.

The number of sanctions imposed – school places withdrawn or applications not accepted – has risen more than threefold over the same period.

The findings reveal the lengths desperate parents are prepared to go to prevent their children ending up in ‘sink’ schools.

Education experts believe the figures are the ‘tip of the iceberg’ because some councils are more proactive in investigating than others.

Tens of thousands of pupils are set to lose out on their first choice secondary school on National Offer Day on Friday. In some areas, half of them are expected not to gain their first preference.

The Mail submitted Freedom of Information requests to all 152 local education authorities in England on fraudulent applications for primary and secondary schools between 2007/8 and 2013/14.

For 2007/8, 96 councils responded. Of these, 36 gave full or partial data and the rest either did not collect the information or cited exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act.

Applications of 99 children were probed which led to 38 sanctions.

In 2012/13, 91 councils responded, with 61 giving full or partial data. Applications for 1,059 children were investigated, leading to 129 places being withdrawn or not accepted.

From 2007/8 to 2012/13 there were 2,599 investigations and 516 sanctions. Extrapolated across the country, this equates to 7,573 investigations and 1,595 sanctions over the period.

Most probes relate to accusations that parents are registering a family member’s address or renting a property in a catchment area. Some also claim false sibling links.

In 2012/13 in Wolverhampton, five places were withdrawn due to parents using incorrect addresses, including a family member ‘posing’ as a child’s father.

Medway Council in Kent withdrew four primary places last year after it found families fraudulently used grandparents’ or childminders’ addresses. Knowsley Metropolitan Council in Merseyside withdrew  11 places from 2008/9 to 2012/13 due to ‘false Catholic baptism’ claims.

In another case, ‘parent A’ tipped off Buckinghamshire County Council last year about ‘parent B’ no longer living at the address provided. The school place was withdrawn from ‘B’ and given to ‘A’.

Hertfordshire County Council has seen an eight-fold rise in investigations, from 56 in 2008 to 455 last year.

Professor Alan Smithers, of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: ‘We owe it to parents to defend admissions against unscrupulous competition and fraudulent activity.

'This is probably the tip of the iceberg as it’s not being investigated as much as it should be.’


Preschool does not help most kids

The idea that kids should learn to read, write, and add when they are very young has been thoroughly disproven, and in fact, this sort of structured evironment is so bad for boys that it puts them on an early path to being labeled low performers. This is why the rich don’t even bother with preschool—they know their kids will be fine without it. And almost all the research to support preschool is based on lower-income statistics, like preschool keeps kids out of prison.

Kids want to be with their parents when they are young, and given the choice, 84% of women would rather be home with their kids than work full-time. The universal preschool proposal ignores the needs of both these constitutent groups.

We do need good childcare.

What everyone wants is good childcare. That’s why they send their kids to school – because school is our state-funded babysitting system.  Parents who are home with their kids want to have a break from their kids. Parents depend on school to provide that break from parenting duties, but we have no system for giving parents breaks when kids are not school age.

At best, universal pre-K is a babysitting service. Middle-class parents can’t afford good child care, which Obama says in his speech, and he says that preschool is a childcare solution more than an education solution. The real issue here is that he wants to give good childcare to the parents who want it.

That’s really different from saying that all kids should go to school.

The Harvard Business Review cuts to the chase and goes so far as to say that this discussion is not about school. It’s about whether kids are better off having early child care from a family member or a preschool. You have to have a pretty bad family life to think that a stranger, with a 15 to 1 ratio, is better child care for a young child than a mother or father.

Universal pre-K is a throwback to pre-1970s feminism.

Feminist site Jezebel also goes straight from universal pre-K to universal child care, pointing out that more women can work. Which would be a useful discussion if it weren’t that most women with kids do not want to work full-time. But we know they don’t.

Bryce Covert, writing at Forbes, says, “Working parents, particularly the mothers who still do the majority of care work for young children, can’t be expected to take three years out of their careers to stay home with young children until they’re ready for preschool.”

WHAT? We know that kids benefit tremendously from being home with a single caregiver during this period. We know that most women cannot earn enough money to pay for quality childcare, which they would still have to pay for if they had full-time jobs.

Putting universal pre-K on the table is taking away the very idea of choice that women have been fighting for. Women should have a choice to work or stay home with kids. Women should be able to choose parenting. Today we raise girls to think they are in school expressly to get a job.  That is not parenting. That’s as damaging to girls as telling them they are going to school to stay home and have kids.

We do not need our politicians to use their federal funding to denigrate the job of parenting any more than so much of society already does.

We need to acknowledge that school is a waste of time.

This country is already an absolute mess because we funnel kids through an education system for fifteen years to get to a college system that is a ponzi scheme. Even the research that supports preschool concludes that an all-around lousy school system undermines the positive impact of preschool.

We need to admit that kids do not need to go to our schools to be educated. One of the largest education trends is middle class parents taking kids out of school. The most expensive private schools model a homeschool environment because kids can learn through self-directed exploration. They don’t need school.

Middle class parents recognize this and don’t want their kids to suffer through an antiquated education system that was established to educate kids to be factory workers.

Obama is pouring more money into the idea that kids need to be in classrooms in order to learn. In fact, kids learn better outside of classrooms. We already know this, we just don’t have the money to fund it.

School in the US is for poor kids. Underprivileged kids are the kids who have to sit through standardized tests when they should be playing. The movement in this country to get kids out of the standardized tests is solidly middle-class. Let’s have universal protests about the stupidity of school instead of universal pre-K. Let’s enable lower-income kids to have the benefit of being told their time is too precious to sit in school all day.

In light of the overwhelming evidence that kids and parents are better off without preschool, let’s use the funding for universal pre-K to help parents create safe, stable environments where they stay home with their four-year-old kids.

More HERE  (See the original for links)

Australia's federal Leftists  trying to take control of schools from State governments

The State governmenbts are mostly conservative at the moment.  The Federal government will be too soon, judging by the polls

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is vowing to take on state governments which are unwilling to overhaul school funding, amid increasing hostility from some state and territory leaders.

Over the weekend, Victoria announced plans to implement its own scheme, with an extra $400 million in education funding focusing on areas of disadvantage.

Queensland is considering whether it should follow Victoria's lead in the absence of clear details from the Commonwealth on its proposal, and Western Australia has indicated it is not yet willing to sign up to funding changes.

Ms Gillard says she is committed to implementing the recommendations of the Gonski report, which suggested an annual boost to education funding of $6.5 billion.

"It will take political will to get this done. I've got the political will to do it, and we will fight through to get it done," Ms Gillard told reporters in Canberra.

"Now I hope that fight is concluded in April around the COAG [Council Of Australian Governments] table, but if there are states that are still holding out from giving kids the best possible education, then we will certainly fight on to secure that for those children."

Under the Gonski plan, each school would receive funding based on how many students are enrolled, with extra loadings for educational disadvantage, including students with poor English skills, disabilities or geographical distance.

On Friday, Ms Gillard told an Australian Education Union conference that if Labor lost this year's election, the opportunity to implement the Gonski report would also be lost.

The ABC understands that the Federal Government only plans to inject an extra $1 billion next financial year, with more money to be "phased in" over time.

Ms Gillard is hoping to reach an agreement with state and territory leaders within months, but several states appear unwilling to sign up in the absence of firm details.

"We've had 18 months of Chinese water torture coming from the Australian Government, and the vast bulk of the populous have no idea what we're talking about," Queensland's Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek told AM.

"What we've seen from the Prime Minister is Julia Gillard saying 'this is what you'll get from the Labor government if we're re-elected'.

"And at the next COAG meeting in April, Premier Campbell Newman, along with the other premiers, will be put under pressure to agree to something, the detail of which we haven't seen yet.

"We can't sign up to Gonski until we see more detail."

Federal School Education Minister Peter Garrett says the Commonwealth is close to finalising its offer to the states, but he has declined to provide details about how much money is involved.

"My expectation is that in this week and the weeks ahead we will be sitting down and specifically going through with those states who are committed to a national plan for school improvement both what we believe are the necessary components of the plan, and also the likely offers that will come onto the table for us to pay our fair share - as we've always said we would do - and to seek the same from the states," Mr Garrett told AM.

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett says most funding for government schools comes from state funding.

He says the Gonski report would mean more state funding for private schools at the expense of government schools, something he is not prepared to do.

"We don't have to change. They're our schools. We don't have to do anything," he told reporters on Friday.

"Gonski's a fair report and points to some real issues in education, but just because the Commonwealth Government thinks we should change our funding, doesn't mean we'll do that.

"And in fact we won't."

While visiting a school in suburban Canberra this morning, Ms Gillard announced the appointment of the first National Children's Commissioner, whose job it will be to advocate for the needs of young people.

"As Government gets on with doing tasks across a wide range of portfolios, the National Children's Commissioner is there to make sure that the outlook of children and their needs is always being taken into account," Ms Gillard said.

The Government has asked Megan Mitchell to carry out the role. She is currently the New South Wales Commissioner for Children and Young People.

Ms Mitchell says it is important to have a children’s advocate at a national level, to review federal laws and policies and to ensure compliance with international agreements.

"I'm really very, very keen to ensure that children’s voice is up there and heard by adults who are making decisions on behalf of and for children," Ms Mitchell told reporters.

"Personally and professionally, I do have an interest in ensuring that we identify kids that are at risk of disengaging from education and social life, as I think there are lots of implications of that.

"I'd like to look at the laws and policies of this nation - and states and territories - to make sure that we very early on pick up any risk factors for kids and act on that."

Ms Mitchell has been appointed for a five year term beginning on March 25.


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