Classes split by tables

9th April 2004 at 01:00
Well, fancy that. Middle-class parents are less bothered by high academic results than their working-class counterparts.

Upmarket parents do not really rate league tables - which show how well a school's pupils do in exams - when it comes to choosing their child's school, according to the parents' poll.

So, what do they want? They want league tables scrapped. When do they want it? After their child is settled in school.

The TES poll of more than 700 parents asked people with children in state schools how useful they found various sources of information in choosing a place.

With hindsight, school visits were seen as the most important factor in choosing a school by all social classes.

The poorest parents were almost twice as likely as the richest to say league tables were also very important when choosing a school.

Consequently, although half of parents wanted league tables scrapped, the majority of the most affluent parents (56 per cent) say they should go, while the majority of the least wealthy (54 per cent) say they should stay.

Research from the London School of Economics indicates that the most important factors for all parents in choosing a school are a child's happiness and the quality of education.

But perhaps where the classes differ is in how much they can take the quality of education for granted.

Even the most middle-class parent, fully confident in their child's ability to achieve wherever they are, may waver when the odds seem stacked slightly too high - just ask Diane Abbott. The Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington sent her son to the pound;10,000 a year City of London school rather than a local comprehensive. And while the Government is correct that performance tables make the same information available to all, they do not mean everyone gets the same service.

Affluent parents may be choosing between several high-achieving schools - only 5 per cent of primaries in England's richest areas will not get more than than two-thirds of their pupils to the expected level in English before they leave.

But parents in more deprived areas may have to distinguish between a wider range of schools from the highly effective to the failing.

Perhaps middle-class parents say that they do not need league tables, because they know the local school will get their children through their exams.

And how do they know that? Well, perhaps they take more notice of those tables then they care to admit.

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