Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Education flagship, captain needed?

This post appeared on Stroppyblog before Christmas. It publishes a letter, apparently from Diane Abbott, calling for a bright Hackney schoolboy to take up a scholarship at the school she sent her son to. "Dear Friend, I am writing to you about a full fee scholarship for the Sixth Form of City of London Boys School I have been asked to find applicants for this. City of London Boys School is one of the best boys schools in the UK. It has wonderful facilities and regularly comes near the top of the examination league tables. I can vouch for the school because I sent my own son there!"

The blogger says: "Frankly, I am appalled that a supposedly socialist MP is promoting a fee-paying private school. She would be better off fighting for more funding, places and accountability for Hackney's state schools so that all the borough's boys and girls can benefit, rather than offering one youngster a leg-up into privilege."

And she's not alone. Clearly people still get annoyed if education and Diane Abbott are mentioned in the same breath.

In August 2009, Luke Akehurst's blog was the arena for Diane bashing: "Anonymous said... If Hackney's schools are so terrific these days, why does Dianne Abbott choose to pay £15k a year to send her kid to the City of London. Terrific but not terrific enough for her son."
To which Luke Akehurst replied: "None of the academies were open when her son was 11 - though that doesn't excuse her decision."

So, what does Diane think? Like everyone else she supports successful Mossbourne but in a 2006 NASUWT-sponsored paper (Academy schools: case unproven) she said: "The trouble with the academies is that, popular as they are and supportive as I am of Mossbourne, there is a danger that they take us back to that past. All the research shows that if you introduce an element of selection, working-class children will lose out. If you have a borough like Hackney and have four academies and four wonderful heads there will still be a residue of children and I know what those children will look like... We know what parent power means in London. In practice, it means giving power to small groups of white middle-class parents, or if not to capture by one ethnic group as opposed to another, the best organised. Actually, if you want to empower the breadth of the parent body in inner-city areas you have to look to the local education authority."

Will she be on the invite list if Gordon drops in on Mossbourne?

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