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School Daze: My Search for a Decent State Secondary School Paperback – 1 Sep 2010

18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Mogzilla Life (1 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906132976
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906132972
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,299,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Andrew Penman’s book is an eye-opener about the traumas parents can face when choosing a school for their children. It makes me glad I’ve only got a dog to look after! (Richard Garner, Education Editor Independent)

Written in diary style, this is an incredibly useful personal journey through the confusing and frustrating maze that is finding a school for your 11 year old child if you don’t want to pay for it. After all, we all pay our taxes and much of that goes into the education pot so for most it seems madness to pay for it even if one could afford it. The author is an award-winning investigative journalist who through his personal experiences of finding a school that would get the results he was seeking and in his local catchment area. Taking a sideways look at our increasingly complex education system School Daze is packed with up-to-date information on the coalition’s latest education plans. It’s a must-read for all parents of children about to make the move to secondary school. (Lovereading)

About the Author

Andrew Penman has been a journalist since starting on the weekly West Sussex County Times in 1984. Since 1997 he has been writing an investigations column for the Daily Mirror that exposes crooks and conmen. He is married with two children. He'd quite like them to get a decent education.

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Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. T. Ralph VINE VOICE on 3 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The book serves as a diary of Penman's attempts to secure preferred school places for his children. He laments the effectiveness of modern state schools, the lack of common sense, and the amount of work that he sees as necessary for parents to engage in. The public/state school divide widens by the day.

Penman does fall into some traps and digressions, in particular an excessive amount of diary entries about his troubles moving house, and these are somewhat tiresome.

Perhaps we may disagree with his criteria (such as "MOB", mediocre or better GCSE results) and beliefs, but the book is entertaining and, if you are either far-enough removed or relaxed enough not to get into a tizzy of "will this happen to my children!?!!?" I expect you will find it as interesting as I did.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lulu VINE VOICE on 27 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have seldom taken such an instant dislike to a book as I did to this one, but I persevered; by the time I had finished it I liked it slightly less than I did when I started.

In the first place, what does Andrew Penman define as a decent standard of education? He spends the first 160 pages of this book using the single criterion (or rather criteria, as he keeps, maddeningly, calling it) of the percentage of pupils passing 5 GCSEs at A*-C grades. Anything less than 30% is defined as a failure; he will only consider a school as suitable if it achieves more than 60%, and envies the fee-paying schools' average of over 80%. He resents the existence of faith schools, or rather their preference for admitting children of their own congregations, asserting that as we all pay for them they should be open equally to all, and on the same principle opposes charitable status for private schools. Both of these are reasonable arguments, but he rather undermines his own position by taking every advantage available to him by way of fake religious belief and moving house to a more prosperous catchment area (the amount he spent on buying a more expensive house purely to qualify for a particularly good school could have paid for years of fees). He has the usual attitude of the ambitious yet politically-correct parent, that things would be much better if only other middle-class people sent their kids to struggling local schools and used their professional and social skills to work for the weal of all, but that his own children, mysteriously, should not have to suffer the consequences of such altruism.
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By Cat R VINE VOICE on 23 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'll preface this by admitting that I attended private school my whole life - and that I'm not married and don't have an children, so perhaps this wasn't the book for me. On the other hand, I'm convinced that state schooling is the way to go - it's what I want for my future kids, and for all future kids of this country - to have a decent free education.

The book isn't long - it's nominally a diary of a year (or so) in the life of the author as he attempts to find a decent state secondary school for his children - currently aged 6 and 8. And these bits - the bits that actually chronicle this struggle - are interesting, in the way that I find most books simply chronicling life, pretty interesting. The writing's fairly engaging - certainly it's not hard to read at all - and there were a few bits regarding the sale of the author's house that I could deeply relate to.

Unfortunately, all of the day-to-day things are interspersed with quotes from newspapers regarding the dire state of secondary education in this country, and general rants about how the system is failing everyone. The author does acknowledge his own hypocrisy in this regard - it's all very well saying that the best way to improve failing schools is to enroll kids whose parents are motivated in their education, until it comes down to enrolling your own children in failing schools, and then it's time to flee to a different part of the country (better state schools), or fake faith (to get into a free faith school), but heaven forbid you send your child to a private school.
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By JoMaynard VINE VOICE on 13 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I picked up the book expecting either: some useful information for parents looking at secondary schools, or an entertaining read, or maybe even both.
It is neither.
It details diary style, the year one Daily Mirror journalist and his wife; compromise their principles and move house to get in the catchment for a "better school".
He frequently says he wishes there was no choice, so the middle classes would have to go to their local state school, and so such schools would improve. He argues strongly against Faith schools, especially as paid for out of tax-payers money (with none of the counter arguments for faith schools given).
However he shows that he (a self-confessed atheist) and his wife (an agnostic) have already compromised their views by becoming involved in their local church; him on the coffee rota, her on the PCC; just to get their son into a preferred school. By the end he is considering whether to get his son baptised as a Catholic (having already had him baptised C of E) just to get him into a very high achieving comprehensive.
He spends most of the book downgrading Ofsted's judgement, as being too positive for example "To translate "Satisfactory" for most parents will mean "unsatisfactory" ". However when schools he has chosen for his children get less than glowing reports, he then criticises the Ofsted system, "I won't bother asking whether ten minutes in a couple of lessons is a fair basis on which to base an assessment of a school".

It is not the entertaining read I had hoped for, maybe something reminiscent of Clive James? It was repetitive, which was partly due to the limited number of interviews and research.
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