Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Life's A Lottery - But It Depends On Who You Know!

Just a small anecdote to add to the discussion about the school places lottery.

Our 11-year old was automatically disbarred from going to the nearest comprehensive (less than a mile away) because our house is, literally, on the wrong side of the road. The main alternative (two and half miles away) has a very poor reputation and so we made the decision to make our main preference a school that is a 40 minute bus ride away. It has a strong record in terms of academic achievement and the wide range of sporting and extra-curricular activities that it offers. (Much like the grammar school I attended in the 1960s!).

Fortunately, our child has been offered a place for September 2008. I suppose it was not surprising really, as the school is in a rural area and it has compensated for falling rolls over the last few years by widening its catchment area.

And the point of this "anecdote"? Well, we happen to know a (physics) teacher at this school who has given us an insider tip. Apparently, there is a clear distinction between the overall performance of pupils that opt for French and those that are placed in the German set. The teachers believe that the parents of pupils most interested in their children's education persuade them to take French. The children of those parents who don't bother to express a preference are placed in the German set because all the French places have been filled.

QED: Children whose parents are interested in their education are likely to do better than those who aren't. Don't know if it's true but "Vive la France"!