Sorry, Middle Class Kids, No School for You: British Education Reform Would Favor the Poor

Filed under: In The News, Education: Big Kids, Education: Tweens, Education: Teens

A proposal for sweeping national education reform includes a provision to allow hundreds of academies and free schools to pick and choose pupils based on family income. Credit: Getty Images


It's like a scene out of "Oliver Twist." Sort of.

"Please, sir," replied Oliver. "I want some more."

The master aimed a blow at Oliver's head with the ladle, pinioned him in his arm and shrieked aloud for the beadle. "This upper middle class child wants more! Well, there's no extra gruel for the likes of 'im!"


Welcome to London in 2011. The Daily Telegraph reports on a strange reversal of fortune among the haves and have nots, where poor kids could get an education and free school lunches while the children of middle class families are turned away at the door.

Times are tough in Britain. With limited resources, the Telegraph reports, leaders feel it is important to give first priority to the poor and hope the more affluent can fend for themselves.

A proposal for sweeping national education reform includes a provision to allow hundreds of academies and free schools to pick and choose pupils based on family income.

The Telegraph reports poor kids have sometimes been edged out of these institutions because richer families buy property in the neighborhood to secure a place in the school. Members of Britain's Labour Party say these reforms will close the gap between rich and poor (poor being defined as families who make less than $26,000 a year).

Under the proposal, schools would get $700 for every poor child enrolled. The proposal would also:


• Require all schools to give preference to children from military families, meaning primary schools must admit them to infant classes even when they exceed the current legal limit of 30 pupils.
• Ban local councils from imposing area-wide "lotteries" to distribute places to overcrowded schools. However, individual schools will still be allowed to hold lotteries.

And what would happen to middle class Oliver under this system?

"The parish authorities magnanimously and humanely resolved that Oliver should be 'farmed,' or in other words, that he should be dispatched to a branch-workhouse some three miles off where 20 or 30 other juvenile offenders against the poor law rolled about the floor all day without the inconvenience of too much food."

The Dickens you say!

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