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School Wars: The Battle for Britain's Education
School Wars: The Battle for Britain's Education
by Melissa Benn
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.39

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Articles of faith and evidence, 17 Dec 2011
There is an expression doing the rounds in the world of education 'good enough for other people's children'. It actually means the opposite, and points to an unacceptable acceptance of inequality in educational provision and performance. Melissa Benn is clearly against that, and makes a strong and very readable case which deserves to be read by those who don't already agree with her.

Nonetheless, there are a number of points that could have been faced or developed further. She might, for example, have asked questions about the funding gap between independent (private) education and state schooling, and how much it would cost in terms of teachers' salaries to equalise pupil-teacher ratios in the latter with those in the former. It would let us know how steep the uphill task faced by teachers in comprehensive schools actually is.

She might also, if she is to reach those who are not already persuaded of her case, need at some point to answer questions about what should happen when things don't quite go right. An obvious one is what the response should be to a manifestly failing school or local authority, but there are others.

The evidence from London is that social sorting in state schooling, whether by parents, schools or both, was endemic in all London boroughs by the middle of the last decade - well before the arrival of Free Schools. I very much doubt that those involved would be persuaded by exhortations presented in 'School Wars' for parents to support their local school.

And then there is the point that one size does not, never did, and never will fit all. In order to teach a wide range of specialist subjects, schools need to be large, and state schools also cater for a wide age range. Both points lead to rules that need to be applied equally to all pupils, irrespective of whether the are the right rules for each child or not. That point in itself can prompt good teachers to move to smaller independent schools. I did work in such a school, where that view was commonplace.

Understandably, anyone whose work is published will want it to be read, and 'School Wars' deserves to be read by those who support public (as opposed to private) schooling. I look forward to the next book which takes on those who support, but have reservations about, that schooling, and those who are simply opposed to it.


Fair Play: A Daniel Dorling reader on social justice
Fair Play: A Daniel Dorling reader on social justice
by Daniel Dorling
Edition: Paperback
Price: 24.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inequality - it doesn't have to be like this, 17 Dec 2011
There was (small) anti-banker demonstration recently outside one of central London's public buildings. A bystander asked 'What are they angry about?' Perhaps thinking of the government's claim that we are all in the current crisis together - while bankers' bonuses rise and the ranks of the poor grow each day, another bystander replied 'What is there not to be angry about?'

Daniel Dorling is a geographer in academia who likes maps (as many do)and is also very much aware of the growth of inequality and poverty. His previous writing on this has been in an accessible academic style, and his book 'Fair Play' now adds a collection of his newspaper and journal articles, lectures and presentations, and material published in other ways, to that portfolio. His style is again accessible, but also analytical and well-supported by evidence. He is clearly not a one slogan 'its all the bankers fault' man, and the book deserves to be widely read.


Ethnicity in the 1991 Census Volume 4: Employment, education and housing among the ethnic minority populations of Britain: Employment, Education and ... Minority Populations of Great Britain v. 4
Ethnicity in the 1991 Census Volume 4: Employment, education and housing among the ethnic minority populations of Britain: Employment, Education and ... Minority Populations of Great Britain v. 4
by The Office for National Statistics
Edition: Paperback
Price: 36.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A 1991 census report. A model for 2011?, 17 Dec 2011
This is one of four volumes commissioned by ONS on data from the 1991 census, and provides analyses of ethnic group data.

It shows how discussion of what to include in the census can proceed, and provides insight into how a number of today's, perhaps taken for granted, concepts developed.

However, more importantly it brings together experts from a range of disciplines, mainly in academia, but also from the then London Research Centre. For that, it will interest those who are aware that policy issues frequently require perspectives from more than one discipline, and it provides a powerful reminder for publishers and policy makers of the value of that approach to analyses of 2011 census data.


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