Monday, March 19, 2007

Just not getting it

Blair has today announced plans for website-based user ratings for schools, like some successful internet sites:

Tony Blair promised to give parents, pupils and patients a greater voice in the running of public services, proposing a user-ratings system like that used on Amazon and eBay.

The Prime Minister, flanked by his likely successor Gordon Brown, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt and Education Secretary Alan Johnson, today unveiled plans for user reviews to help families identify which schools are most suitable for their children.

Websites could also provide up-to-the-minute details of pupils' achievements under the proposals announced at a school in Hackney, east London.

Mr Blair said: "What we want is to keep these basic public service values, which are about access to quality public services irrespective of your wealth, but make sure those are truly personalised services where there's a much greater diversity of provider and the old ways of working are broken down."

The policy review claims that public services must be shaped by the taxpayers who fund them, and that there must be a much greater diversity of providers.

One of its suggestions is that people should be able to choose where they learn by using league tables which give satisfaction ratings for schools, including uncensored reviews such as those published on the Amazon or eBay websites.
(emphasis added)

I went off a bit half-cocked when I first saw this, and the present post is heavily updated.The eBay and Amazon guff is typical techno-fluff. Without parental choice, it would be meaningless; with parental choice - genuine parental choice about which schools to try to send their children to and, ideally, an equivalent choice (selection) whereby the schools can decide which pupils to accept - this would be the icing on the cake.

Choice is the cake, and it's good to see that in this suggestion. If the waffle about user ratings helps smuggle this past the Jurassic fauna on the Labour benches, it'll have served a purpose.

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