Old-fashioned educational values offer the UK’s most deprived children a future

Economics is the gloomy science, but we can end the year on a cheery note.

Newham Collegiate Sixth Form College is in one of the most deprived and ethnically mixed areas of the country, with high numbers of immigrants. Yet the example set by Mouhssin Ismail, the headteacher, is inspirational.

At the start of every year, all the students are taken to Cambridge, to raise their aspirations. There is a minimum three hours of homework every night, and five a day at weekends.

The effort pays off. This year, 190 out of 200 students were offered places at the Russell Group universities. Nine were offered Oxbridge places, with one student destined for MIT in the US.

Of course, there is an element of self-selection in the success of the school. Young people unwilling to submit to the rigours demanded are unlikely to apply.

But even though Newham is riddled with poverty, there is no shortage of aspiration.

In Crumpsall, a rather run-down area just to the north of Manchester city centre, King David High School is consistently ranked in the top 10 state schools in the country. This year, over 50 per cent of the A-level results were at grade A or A*.

The school’s ethos is based on respect for parents, teachers, elders, fellow people, standards, and discipline.

Rochdale Sixth Form College, located in a poor former mill town, began to insist on “high expectations within a ‘you can do it culture’”. As a result, for the first time in years, students from the area are going to Oxbridge.

London’s secondary schools in general have been turned around in recent years. From being one of the worst performing regions in the country, they are now the best.

The attitude of the Schools Inspectorate has been crucial. Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector, insists that disadvantaged children cannot be used as an excuse for consistently underperforming schools.

The quality and attitude of teachers is also important. This has been established in the academic literature for a considerable time.

The importance of a scientific paper is judged by the number of times other academics cite it in their work. Very few papers in any subject get more than 1,000 citations. Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford carried out a study based on educational outcomes in American schools in 1993/94, which has nearly 6,000.

She found that “teacher certification and preparation are by far the strongest correlates of student achievement in reading and mathematics”. In other words, the better qualified the teaching staff, the better will be the results of a school.

But there is more to it than that. It is the “preparation” which teachers carry out which is also key. Again, successful schools, whatever their socio-economic catchment, insist on a professional approach.

Far more than money – the perennial “solution” of the Left – social norms are decisive in delivering good education. Traditional values of hard work and discipline pay off.

North Korea has nuclear missiles, the Brexit talks falter – but here is something to feel good about.

Paul Ormerod 

As published in City AM Wednesday 20th December 2017

Image: Old Fashioned Education via Wikimedia is licensed under CC by 0.0

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e: aobyrne@volterra.co.uk
t: +44 020 8878 6333

Alex O’Byrne, Associate at Volterra, is an experienced economic consultant specialising in economic, health and social impact, economic strategy, project appraisal and socio-economic planning matters.

Alex has led the socio-economic and health assessments of some of the most high profile developments across the UK, including Battersea Power Station, Olympia London, London Resort, MSG Sphere and Westfield. He has significant experience inputting to EIAs and s106 discussions as well as drafting economic statements, employment and skills strategies and affordable workspace strategies.

Alex is also experienced at economic appraisal for infrastructure. He was project manager of the economic appraisal for the City Centre to Mangere Light Rail in Auckland. He also led the economic and financial appraisals of the third tranche of the Transport Access Program for Transport for New South Wales, in which Alex developed and employed innovative methodological approaches to better capture benefits for individuals with reduced mobility.

He is interested in the limitations of current appraisal methodologies and ways of improving economic and health analysis to ensure it is accessible to as many people as possible. To this end, Alex recognises the importance of transparent and simple to understand analysis and ensuring all work is supported by a robust narrative.

Alex holds a BSc (Hons) in Economics from the University of Manchester and he was a member of the first cohort of the Mayor’s Infrastructure Young Professionals Panel.


Senior Partner

e: eevans@volterra.co.uk
t: +44 020 8878 6333

Ellie is a partner at Volterra, specialising in the economic impact of developments and proposals, and manages many of the company’s projects on economic impact, regeneration, transport and development.

With thirteen years experience at Volterra delivering high quality projects to clients across the public and private sector, Ellie has expertise in developing methods of estimating economic impact where complex issues exist with regards to deadweight, displacement and additionality.

Ellie has significant experience in estimating the economic impact across all types of property development including residential, leisure, office and mixed use schemes.

Project management of recent high profile schemes include the luxury hotel London Peninsula, Battersea Power Station and the Nova scheme at London Victoria. Ellie has also led studies across the country estimating the economic and regeneration impact of proposed transport investments, including studies on HS2 and Crossrail.

Ellie holds a degree in Mathematics and Economics from the University of Cambridge.