The news that academies are “using covert selection to skew intake” (10.1.13) is no news at all. It’s a familiar pattern, established for more than 20 years. Invent a type of school – opted out, direct grant, CTC, academy – which is intended to be better than the rest. Grab the kids who are better than the rest, keep out or throw out the ones who aren’t. Hey presto. Instant quality.
There is another way of doing things. Instead of schools trying to grab the best kids, they try to do the best with the kids they’ve got. They even collaborate, with the aim of giving every child in the country a decent education. There are places in the world, less obsessed with privilege and headlines, who make such a system work. Comprehensive education. It’s long-term, it requires thought and effort, and it’s easy to dismiss as “bog standard”, but it’s so much better than the mess we’ve got.