Alistair Owens http://www.keen2learn.co.uk
Our primary and secondary educational teaching resources are becoming overloaded. Parents wanting the best schooling for their children are finding access to the better primary schools problematic. Preparatory schools feeding the intake, increased birth rate and immigration have caused a surge in applicants and a huge growth in failed appeals.
Complaints from parents finding the school gate closed to new entrants have soared by 24% this year. The recession hasn’t helped as children are being transferred from independent schools to reduce costs. Not unsurprisingly the schools have had little option but to reject appeals. If they have filled their quota the only course of action is to increase class size, which would rather defeat one of the main strengths of a good school.
Considerable time is needed to prepare an appeal by parents, and each hearing at the school can take 30 minutes. Multiply this by the total number of appellants and the resultant energy dissipated is colossal, with little positive outcome for either side. Worryingly some parents have sought legal representation to support their case. This tends to favour the better off and the advent of a legalistic culture in admissions is of some concern to the Local Government Association.
The solution is difficult. The performance of our schools has been severely criticised over recent years and the expansion of good schools is an evolutionary and lengthy process. Critically therefore we cannot expect a rapid solution to this growing problem. But one very positive option lies in the hands of parents.
Already parents with sufficient disposable income hire tutors for their children. This one to one educational support proves extremely beneficial, and ironically, provided inevitably by teachers from the local school. But parents still have low cost options. One is to participate in the educational games used by the teachers in the classroom to support the lesson. These teaching resources in the form of educational games, toys and puzzles are now available for use at home where the one to one link between parent and child can have surprising results back in class. Providing an essential element of lesson practice, parents do not need to be a teacher. It provides a dynamic insight to performance rather than end of term reports, and most of all it is fun.