Good gravy. Long time connoisseurs of this sort of thing will remember that Melanie Phillips’ long strange journey to wherever she is now started off in fulmination about the “liberal left” and how they have ruined education. Nasty Nick appears to be off on the same journey, in this case presenting evidence that 25-year olds born in 1970 are showing more income correlation to parental wealth than they did a while ago. Apparently this is evidence that Sure Start (introduced in 1999) doesn’t work. Meanwhile, IQs continue to rise, standardised test scores continue to improve (despite what Mel sez) and increasing inequality in society continues to be the fault of wider social policies and not the schools. Oh yeh, and “rich parents choosing education while the working class blah blah” remains an almost purely London-specific problem. Grammar schools feh.
It’s not that NC is definitely wrong about grammar schools, it’s just that he so blatantly doesn’t know what he’s talking about and the Observer doesn’t seem to care. This has got nothing to do with education; it’s just Nick Cohen randomly having a pop at “the liberal left” (which lower down the col he identifies as the natural constituency of RESPECT, so there are fewer of us than I thought). He was going on about tower blocks in the Standard a couple of weeks ago (“see what yer working clarss want is a nice semi wiv a gahden”) and got given his head in his hands by town planners pointing out that under his model for postwar redevelopment, the last people made homeless by Hitler’s bombs would be moving into their little brick semi a) now and b) it would be in the London Borough of Warwickshire. Drivel.
PS: I notice that everyone mentioned in Cohen’s article has their school and university in brackets after their name except one – Cohen himself. Anyone know? Wouldn’t it be just the shit if it was Eton and Sandhurst?
Update: “Altrincham Grammar School For Boys and Keble College Oxford”, apparently.