Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The schools question

Our daughter is just one and a half, so you might think it's a little bit early to worry about this, but all anyone ever seems to want to talk about is schools. I've lost count of the number of people who have asked us if we'll move house (possibly, but not to be near a good school) or if we'll find faith (no way, and even if we did we both believe schools should not be faith based).

Then there are the people you meet at the park, or signing sessions, or through the other parent and child networks, who assume you'll feel the same way. "London is so vibrant," they say, by which they mean multi-cultural, "and when we didn't have kids we really loved going to the theatre and eating food from different cultures, but now we have children our priorities have changed and we want to be somewhere quieter," by which they mean whiter and more middle-class. 

Fine, I don't want small minded racists living near me anyway (or for that matter, non racist people who think a small market town is the height of excitement), though it is particularly galling if you've earmarked them as a potential friend because they too allow their child an occasional biscuit and have heard of Ed Miliband. 

But what isn't fine is that some people seem to think you are practically abusing your children by choosing to stay in London. In Haringey no less, home of riots and child abuse and 160 languages. 

I'd been warned that as your children grow older, the things that drive you and your friends apart are not the differences over demand feeding and routine, sleep training and co-sleeping, each to their own on those, but ideological differences over education, and insinuations that you don't want the best for your child - that you will sacrifice their future on the alter of your own pompous misguided left wing values. 

As if we don't all want the best for our children. I want the best for my child. I want the best for all the children who will be in her local school with her, when it is her time to go to school. And I believe the best way to get the best for them all is to have a comprehensive education for all our children, not just for those who have to go to the shit schools (because that, my friends, is not comprehensive). 

One person I know pointed me to a bit of research she had come across that suggested middle-class parents don't mind their kids going to 'bog-standard comprehensives' because they feel it teaches them a lesson about how to get on with all kinds of people, even those from ethnic minorities, even those who are poor. I'm offended by this. I do not want my daughter to benefit because they are poor for fuck's sake, I want them not to be poor, and above all not to be poorly educated. 

What we'll have to teach her at home I guess, because there won't be any of them at the school she is likely to go to, is how to deal with the holier-than-thou smugness of the kind of people who think we'll be doing the wrong thing by her, by not choosing where to live by catchment area. 

1 comment:

  1. I hate Harringay haters - so boring, and often just racist. I have people who've been so condescending about our son's school. The very best thing about schools are the people who hector you about it for years at the park, and then bugger off and/or don't send their child to their local school anyway. Seriously. I can't say how bored I've been (to tears) by people who in the end did move/fib/try to play the system etc.