All posts tagged 'subsidies'

KCC risks the ire of the squeezed middle as grammar pupils hit by spending squeeze

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Tuesday, June 14 2011

FOR a Conservative education authority with the largest number of grammar schools in  the country, it can't have been easy deciding to end transport subsidies for those attending selective schools.

KCC to scrap transport costs help for grammar and church school pupils>>>

While KCC has been at pains to emphasise that it will look to offer support to children in care and those on low incomes who get a place at grammars, it risks antagonising those who fall the wrong side of this line and may well be on modest incomes and see - rightly or wrongly - that grammars offer their children a chance to get on.  The "squeezed middle" takes another hit.

And let's be clear - there are plenty of them: an estimated 4,199 pupils who currently get support for their transport wouldn't under the new arrangements coming in in 2012.

As education chiefs admit: "A significant minority are likely to be from families on low incomes surviving on low limited means."

But on balance, KCC is right to end these discretionary subsidies. There is an inherent unfairness in the current arrangements which could be  said to adversely impact on those parents who pro-actively choose a non-selective school for their children. (Hard for some to believe, but yes, they do exist).

There is no such support for children who attend a non-selective school which they may have opted for which is not the nearest to their home in the same way. So KCC could well have been legally challenged. The only way in which it might have preserved subsidies for grammar and church school pupils would have been to have extended the same right to those attending any other type of school.

Given the potential costs, that would have been a non-starter. More importantly, there is the principle of equity - why should only parents of church or selective schools enjoy this kind of support? It is true that the spread of these schools means they may be further afield than others. But we have been sold the idea that when it comes to schools, we have choice.

And it is this political obsession with the illusory concept of school choice - and the attendant pursuit of "diversity" within the school system - that can be blamed. Parents told they can exercise choice will inevitably look further afield than the nearest school down the end of the road if they think it might be better for their children.

And believe it or not, sometimes they opt for schools that are neither selective or denominational and which are also more than three miles away from their nearest appropriate school.

  

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