The people who don't want poor kids to get a decent education (Labour, Tories, Lib Dems, NUT, SHA) like to tell us that the fee-paying (i.e. selective) schools get the best results because they cream off the brightest kids.
Not so. Many bright kids have parents who can't afford selective fees, currently artound the £7.5k pa mark.
Professor Jesson’s findings came from research that tracked the progress of the brightest 5 per cent of pupils between 1999 and 2004, based on scores in national curriculum tests of English, mathematics and science at age 11 in primary schools. He was given access to the data by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES).
Professor Jesson said that it was a myth that the brightest children attended private schools.
In fact, of the 37,500 children in the top 5 per cent, 30,000 went on to state secondaries and 7,500 were educated privately. By the age 16, all 7,500 in fee-paying schools had achieved at least five GCSE grades A* or A. But only 20,000 of the original cohort in state schools reached this standard.
The professor said that 13,000 students in state schools achieved three A grades at A level. In independent schools, the number was 7,600.
Now that last statistic is really scary. Of the 5% of brightest 11 year olds, only two thirds get their 5 GCSE A grades in the state sector, compared to all the publicans.
But by 18, assuming that all the 3-A students are our top 5%, only 40% of the clever-clogs can hit this gold standard at state schools. 100% strike gold at public school - AND they drag another 100 up to the mark who are presumably from outside the top 5%.
At the educational coalface, Shuggy is feeling the strain as Christmas approaches.
"I've often thought we need to get away from this idea that teaching is a job for life. I've only been doing it for eight years, I'm already half-insane, half-alcoholic as a result - as no doubt this blog clearly demonstrates - and frankly I'm absolutely sick to death of it already."
He thinks us armchair teachers should get out there and give it a pop.
Perhaps Melanie Phillips could be persuaded to take a few classes on a part time basis. Or Chris Woodhead to show us how it's done - provided he can be persuaded not to shag any more pupils, that is. Or Peter Hitchens, as long as he promises not to hurt anyone (he'll have to be kept away from the scissor drawer, I reckon).
Shuggy, you may understand Chris Woodhead, but you've not understood Hitchens. Neither he nor I would want to teach in a state school UNLESS you could hurt the pupils.
Not all of them, you understand - or even a majority. But pour encourager les autres.