In Unequal Opportunities John Humphrys "investigates what can be done to close the widening gap between the educational achievements of advantaged and disadvantaged pupils in England for his BBC TV documentary"
The programme was interesting, and informative for non-specialists, although it didn't come to any startling conclusions. If you are poor you are at a disadvantage. Children whose parents can afford to send them to independent schools can benefit from that advantage. What was particularly valuable was its highlighting of how inspirational heads and teachers can make a difference.
Voice has said many times on this blog and elsewhere that changing the way schools are organised and governed is not a guarantee of success or better education. The key to the success of a school is the quality of the leadership, along with investment, good discipline, and a positive ethos and relationship with local communities.
The schools featured in the programme demonstrated that it doesn't matter if a school is an academy or a free school or a comprehensive it is the head teacher, the staff and the resources at their disposal that make the difference.
It was also clear that the only way to create a totally level playing field between state schools with classes of around 30 students and the private schools with their small, university-style tutorials would be a "commitment of resources and political will on a scale we have never seen before" and that's not likely to happen, especially in this "Age of Austerity".
"Why should a single child be denied the chance of achieving his or her potential?" but is society prepared to foot the bill?
What did you think of the documentary? Did it raise serious issues, was it informative for the general public, or did it ask the wrong question "What’s wrong with our schools?" instead of "What's wrong with our society?" Could it have made more of the schools that took disadvantaged children out of the school environment and gave them inspiring life-changing experiences and used this evidence to ask why successive governments and Ofsted browbeat schools into teaching to tests and meeting targets rather than encouraging them to undertake more of this inspirational and experiential work?
Do you agree or disagree with Phil Beadle, who described the programme as "Mr Humphrys’ unsophisticated, biased, under nuanced, lying documentary on the attainment gap. [middle class] telly propagating m/c lies"?
What do you think of the BBC’s School Season in general?