The internet fails on social justice

Home to cats, buzzfeed, fails, and lots and lots of porn, the internet has fuelled the hopes and dreams of a generation. In a world fundamentally transformed by the internet, and a world crowded (one might even say over-crowded) by competing campaigns, causes, and clamours for equality here, fights against injustice there, and e-petitions just about everywhere, it’s easy to slip into the complacent belief that ours is the age of social justice, and that its greatest beacon is the internet.

If only. Online forums of all kinds are becoming ever more isolating as their crucial arguments become lost in abusive jibes, unhelpful confrontationalism, and a belief that you can say what you like in front of a computer in your dressing gown with a fresh cup of coffee to bolster your nerve. Continue reading

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Tailored entry requirements: unfair and unnecessary?

In the midst of our continuing and obsessively class-conscious war between state and private education, elitism and access, positive discrimination and laissez-faire, a study commissioned by the Department for Education has found that students from comprehensives tend to perform better at University than grammar or privately-educated students with the same GCSE and A-level results. In a seemingly sensible bit of logical progression, the study has suggested that universities ‘may wish to consider lowering their entry requirements for pupils from non-selective or low-value-added state schools’, but stopped short of actually detailing what this might entail in practice.

In many ways, it’s about time that someone had the courage to face up to this rather thorny question in our education system’s side. It’s been reasonably clear for a long time that, in general (and I really do mean in general), privately educated students perform better at GCSE & A-level  than their state-funded counterparts, and that grammar school students sit somewhere in the middle. If you look at the facts of it, this would make sense. On average, the pupil-teacher ratio in state schools is 1:22, whilst in private schools it’s only 1:9 – a vast difference. Continue reading