The school property ladder grows ever sadder

12th October 2007 at 01:00
Jim Goodall is a retired science teacher from Torfaen.

One of the major considerations for people moving house is whether there are "good" schools in the area. A house can be perfect but unless there are good primary or secondary schools in the locality, it is unlikely to sell.

People have even been known to lie about their address just to get their offspring into that elusive good school.

The purchasers have aspirations for their children and unless the reputation of the local school, albeit on a set of dubious criteria, comes up to standard, the sale will fall through. The results will be scrutinised including the Estyn report. Nothing but the best is good enough for my James and Jemima.

What other factors make for that good school in the eyes of the would-be movers? Good behaviour and uniform with blazers? Oh yes, these are a prime requirement. No blazers definitely means no move.

Is it on the site of the old grammar school, they wonder? Affirmation of this is a definite plus, even though it's been a comprehensive school for 30 years.

Does it allow those kids from the council estate in? Council house riff-raff in my child's school? No chance. But level 5 in the core subjects at the end of KS2 means even a house with an outside toilet is moving-in material.

The worth of teachers in the school is compared. Conversations are held with local people to discuss the merits and demerits of the staff. No criterion other than the sort of academic results gained by any particular teacher is worthy of mention.

Are they kind and considerate? All very nice but if they can't teach for toffee in terms of academic results, then unfortunately the house deal will fall through.

However, even in the good school we all know there will be some average teachers. Scholastic Utopia will not follow even the best-planned move. Unbelievably, the intelligence of the pupil does count. Horror of horrors, the local school has some vocational or technological subjects at GCSE that's fine for everyone else's children but mine need some academic rigour. It's only the less able who do well at these subjects, isn't it?

There is a plethora of house-moving programmes on television these days and it astonishes me that deals are made or broken on the basis of good local schools. For most pupils, the local school will afford them a perfectly good education. Let's stop this madness, please.

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