Education system biased against poor families

    The prime minister yesterday admitted that the education system
    was biased against poor families, writes Clare
    Jerrom.

    On a visit to the City of London Academy, Tony Blair said that
    for better off families, the education system was full of options
    while this was not the case for children from poor families.

    “In schooling, the better off do have a choice and power
    over the system,” he said. “If they are sufficiently
    wealthy, they can send their children to a range of independent,
    fee-paying schools, which, by and large, provide excellent
    education. Or they can move house to be next to the best state
    schools. Or they can buy private tuition.”

    “But for a middle or lower income family, whose local
    school is the option and which is under-performing, there is
    nothing they can do, except take what they are given,” he
    added.

    Blair went on to say that city academies were helping the
    education system to “move into the post-comprehensive
    era”.

    Academies are usually located in areas of deprivation and take
    funding from private sponsorship. If a school can raise up to
    £2 million from private sponsors, the government pays the rest
    of the start-up costs, typically £25 million.

    A recent survey found that almost 90 per cent of parents with
    children at academies were satisfied with the quality of
    education.

    The government wants 200 city academies by 2010 with 40 by next
    September. Blair said the government was on schedule to meet the
    target.

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