Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Making admissions a lottery

My former no 10 colleague, Phil Collins has a great piece in The Times today rehearsing his old argument in favour of lotteries for school admissions. If the Tories are serious about opening up the school system and doing so with fair admissions, then they must encourage lotteries or banding in the cities. As Phil argues:
Ten more years of reform would certainly mean that the second best schools would be a lot better than they are. But even that wouldn’t solve the problem entirely. There is no admissions system within the wit of man that will avoid the best schools being over-subscribed. Even in the utopia of universal greatness it will still be rational for parents to choose the best school they can. Therefore, it is crucial to find a fair way of distinguishing between applicants.....There is one decisive political objection to the lottery scheme: it means that, all of a sudden, access to a good school cannot be purchased via the housing market. In politics, the complaints of those who lose will always drown out the muted thanks of those who gain. It will be hard to do but it is only when we have enough good schools and a fair way of selecting children that parental choice will become really meaningful.

1 comment:

Alastair said...

Lotteries do have the virtue of fairness - but how do you square that with encouraging schools to develop specialisms in performing arts, technology etc rather that being 'bog standard'? Tough if your child has a passion for maths but rather than going to a school with such a specialism across the road, s/he gets assigned to a school that specialises in languages several miles away! And has anyone calculated the social and environmental costs of bussing children across town to randomly-determined destinations? Must be a massive and avoidable carbon footprint compared to going to nearest schools. Don't the Scots do things better?