Tuesday, January 09, 2007

On Ruth Kelly

It is not often, if at all, that I’m moved to speak favourably about Ruth Kelly. Indeed I don’t expect to here, but I will avoid, I hope, any descent into the ad hominem. Rather I will set out some reasons why her decision to send her son to a private school should not be viewed or judged in the same light as that of the decision of Diane Abbott, for example.

Firstly, the details
which have emerged in the media in the last couple of days serve to tell us little. We know that the school Kelly and her husband have chosen is private and that it costs something in the region of £15,000 per year - a modest amount when one is considering special school places. It is suggested that her son has dyslexia but we don't know whether or not the child has a Statement of Special Educational Needs.

It may be reasonably expected of a mainstream school to cater for the needs of a child who has dyslexia. Indeed, some authorities do not consider dyslexia a special educational need at all. In Ruth Kelly's case we must assume that she believed her son would receive an education more suited to his needs in the school her family has chosen. This does not necessarily suggest that the school the child is leaving was somehow failing the child.

With conditions such as autism and dyslexia there have emerged alternative theories and methods of teaching which are not made available in the state sector. The relative merits of some of these methods such as the 'Applied Behavioural Analysis' are much disputed. Many parents opt for such programmes in the hope that they will provide a remedy for their child's educational difficulty. In this case it's a private specialist school. I think the essential difference is that Kelly has opted for a school which she believes best suits her child's needs. She hasn't gone private simply because she's wealthy or because it's a better option than the local inner city school. It appears she has done it because her son has a particular type of need which can be best provided for at a particular type of school. I suppose the city banker could argue that they chose Eton because their child has a particular type of need, but I would hope the difference should be clear.


At 12:49 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha! You would say that posh boy!


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