'Good Schools' and 'Failing Schools'

Recently, Brighton and Hove City Council decided to hold a ballot for children who had elected to be sent to secondary schools for which there weren't enough places. They believed that this was fairer than the previous system of simply deciding who should be the 'lucky' ones and who should be sent elsewhere. This initiative (immediately dubbed a 'lottery' by the media) started a huge debate about choice, fairness, social engineering, 'raising standards', why one school was 'better' than another and so on.

Clearly, a great many people are concerned about the education of the young.

But nobody thought to question: 'What is meant by a 'good' school?'

And nobody thought to ask: 'What is a secondary school for anyway?'

The entire debate centred on the premisses that:

For such an important - and expensive! - stage of our young people's lives, it's about time we started to ask some pretty fundamental questions.