12 November 2006

Compulsion, compulsion, compulsion

Labour wants to extend the compulsory school leaving age to 18. According to the Times, our dear Education Secretary Alan Johnson thinks it's "unacceptable for children of 16 to be in full-time work".

The Government is keen to increase the number of working-class students going to university, but in spite of the wide variety of outreach programmes, they seem to be making little headway. A spokesman for Universities UK, the umbrella group of vice-chancellors, said that fair access to higher education could be achieved only if schools increased the staying-on rates beyond 16.
Once again, people are presumed by Labour to be too stupid to decide for themselves what is good for them. Never mind that state education is often rubbish and may do more harm than good; let's force working class children to be subjected to another two years of it against their will.

Having tinkered with university admissions for years without achieving proportional representation, you might expect some reappraisal of the assumption that ability is environmentally determined, and therefore must be evenly represented among the classes. But with an unshakeable ideological commitment to this assumption by politicians and academics alike, the only recourse is to force the outcome you desire.