Monday, January 23, 2006

Educashun, educashun, educashun

Funny, isn't it.

Our Liberal Democrat/Tory masters can find hundreds of thousands of pounds to fund their adventures with the underground or their vain attempts to find a better solution to the problem of the Birmingham Library. When it comes to keeping an award-winning specialist school open, they can't seem to locate the cash.

St Paul's Community Foundation School in Balsall Heath faces closure at the end of this year. For decades, it has specialised in children who have had problems in mainstream education. Many of them have already been excluded from other schools, but that doesn't stop the council from planning to close the school and move the pupils back into the mainstream (the same schools that previously threw them out).

Because these pupils have assorted problems and are located in a single school, it is also the worst performing in the City, with only 22% of the pupils getting the benchmark GCSE grades and missing the minimum government target of 25% - which is perhaps more important than the cost. The school's roll of 45 pupils will be spread amongst the other schools, so their poor performance won't be concentrated in one place and making the council look bad. The fact that these kids won't be as well served elsewhere in the system is irrelevant.

The scandal is that this seems to have nothing to do with giving these children the best education that we can, nor even financial constraints, but a cynical attempt to massage the figures to meet the targets. This shouldn't be a surprise - we've seen similar tricks with housing.

Of course, it won't be an election issue, the parents of these pupils are spread across the city, so there won't be the local outcry that might save it in an election year. That doesn't stop it being a crying shame and another blot on the record of this failed administration.

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