Monday, February 08, 2016

UK: State schools grow in popularity among wealthy parents as experts warn poorer children could miss out on good education

Not mentioned below is that many British State schools are now "academies" (charters)

State schools have become more attractive to wealthy parents in comparison to 30 years ago, according to the editor-in-chief of the Good Schools Guide.  Ralph Lucas, an old Etonian and hereditary peer, said state schools had improved beyond all recognition since the 1980s.

While in 1986, his publication only included 10 state schools, last year there were 264 – representing almost a third of the total recommended institutions.

His comments come amid growing evidence that well-heeled parents are increasingly turning to state schools amid inflation-busting rises in private school fees.

Many of the best state schools now sit in the wealthiest areas of the country, where parents pay a premium on their homes to be within the catchment areas.

Often families view it as an investment because the money they spend is less than paying for an independent education.

However, critics have said the trend has meant less good school places for poorer children.

Lord Lucas told the Times Educational Supplement there could be a ‘shrinkage’ in private schools in the coming years.

The independent sector, he said, was set to reduce as parents realised that they could get a good education for their child in the state sector for free.

He added: ‘The trend over the next 50 years will be for the independent sector to reduce. ‘The rise of the state system and it being free is a very difficult thing for the independent sector, as a whole, to resist.

‘Some of them will respond very well. I’m not pessimistic about it, but I think the general trend, the baseline that they are up against, is of slow shrinkage and that they will have to run really hard to stay where they are and run even harder to make progress.’

Wealthy parents pay up to £675 for personal advice from Lord Lucas’ organisation on the best state schools.

He added that in the 1980s, he disregarded two London state schools for his own children but these had now improved so much that he had included them in the Good Schools Guide.


Gun Free School Zone? Not in THIS District

In the gun friendly state of Oklahoma, one school isn't messing around when it comes to making criminals think twice.

In the town of Okay, school district officials have purchased signs that read, "Attention: Please be aware that certain staff members at Okay Public Schools can be legally armed and may use whatever force is necessary to protect our students." The signs are posted outside of schools for everyone to see.

More on the background for the signs from Muskogee Phoenix writer Harrison Grimwood:

    The Okay Public Schools Board of Education passed an “Armed School Employees” policy in August. On Monday, the district publicized that policy with signage in front of the school.

    “The signs are more or less a deterrent,” Superintendent Charles McMahan said. “We don't want to be a soft target.”

    McMahan said his administration looks for ways to keep students safe and secure, particularly since the Okay Police Department was disbanded in December 2014. Although Wagoner County sheriff's deputies are available, McMahan said it is “seconds, not minutes, that matter.”

    Student Richard Antosh and several of his peers supported the policy, trusting their teachers should a threat arise.


Non-religious ethics classes growing in NSW schools

NSW school children are facing unprecedented hurdles to get into ethics classes in schools, the state's provider of ethics classes has warned.

For the first time this year parents of kindergarten students do not have to be informed of the availability of ethics classes by the school principals until after they have been through at least four different steps.

"It is a deliberately difficult process for a parent to access ethics classes and give students an alternative to developing their critical thinking and moral reasoning," said Mr Hogan.

Despite the hurdles, Mr Hogan said the classes had continued to grow in popularity throughout the state.

The classes received some high-profile backing last year when the Dalai Lama spoke out in support of their inclusions in NSW schools as a way of keeping people who did not engage with religion on a moral path.

"We will start in 400 schools this year," Mr Hogan said. "In the end, parents always win when it comes to their children's best interest."

Marrickville mother Theona Bustos said that despite being Catholic she still wanted her five-year-old son Xavier to enroll in an ethics class at Wilkins Primary School.  "If I want my children to have a religious education, I don't want it to happen at school, we can go to Sunday mass for that," she said.

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said that as not all NSW public schools offer ethics classes, it is up to schools to provide parents with the options at their school. Some schools openly advise parents of the availability of ethics classes.

Last year, NSW Premier Mike Baird denied the removal of ethics classes from enrolment forms was part of a deal with Christian Democrat MP Fred Nile to secure the passage of legislation through the NSW upper house.

The changes to the enrolment form were rushed through the Department of Education after the Premier was lobbied by faith groups, documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws showed.

The government's recommendations were in line with those of an upper house inquiry into ethics classes chaired by Mr Nile in 2012.

A spokesman for the Catholic Conference of Religious Educators in State Schools said: "Special ethics education is not an enemy or a threat to special religious education and the volunteer teachers in both groups are offering valid and valuable choices for parents for education in faith and ethics."


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