Most people learn at an early stage that one of the stepping stones to success are the 6 P's...... Prior Preparation Prevents P*ss Poor Performance. Like most of us, I've challenged this little rule of life in the past, only to fall smartly on my face. David Adelman, the principal at Godalming College recently decided to stress test the 6 P's on an industrial scale.
It's a good thing they teach both law and rugby at the popular 6th Form college in Guildford because both would have been very useful on the 18th of this month. In a mesmeric display of incompetence the college decided to change the traditional application process and invited parents and students to present themselves at their doors at 9am with applications in hand. Whether true or not, word quickly circulated that conditional places would be offered on a first come, first served basis.
The first people arrived at 4am and by 6am the queue meandered around the building. By 9am, when the doors opened, there was an unseemly scrum with some of the more enthusiastic prospective parents at the back of the queue using tactics more traditionally associated with the front row.
The police were called to maintain public order.
Now that Mr Adelman has concluded his little experiment in humiliating desperate parents and proving to the rest of the county how inept his admissions department is, the rest of us can ask a few questions ourselves of Godalming College and indeed, the educational establishment,
1. What happens to the parents and children who were unable to travel by public transport to be their in time to make the front of the queue.
2. Is this the way to create a balanced, inspiring and creative educational environment?
3. What happened to the kids there who didn't have a dad with them built like Gareth Chilcott?
4. Given all the money that has been spent on education in the last ten years, why does this appear to be the only popular choice with families in the county?
5. How do Goldalming College propose to introduce a fair applications process which by the way, scores of other schools appear to manage without satchels and handbags at dawn?
Clearly, if the recession accelerates and more children leave independent schools then the state sector doesn't have the capacity to cope. I'm left wondering, if the class warriors of Labour and the Liberals had their way and closed all the independent schools just where exactly would all those kids go to be educated and if families are, as is clear, lifting some of the burden from the state then why are there no tax uplifts for families for doing so.
There remains so much residue of sixties dogma in state education, which has become so entrenched in mainstream thinking that to challenge it is unthinkable, that creative solutions to more capacity and excellence are being suppressed. Give parents tax breaks if they pay for education and education will grow and flourish.
Moreover, it's crystal clear to me that the last shower of incompetents in government should not get away with their mismanagement of our money in education and for that matter other government departments. We urgently require a total financial and intellectual audit of our education system followed by the fresh clean air of devolved responsibility.
Government has failed.