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There's no such thing as fair - but should there be?

Added June 2014


A week ago I had to kill a little time in Worcester.  The weather was glorious and I was on my bike, so I pootled along beside the river.  One of the things I came across was Kings Worcester's Boat House-  and a very impressive thing it was too.  Beautifully designed and built to look like a boat entering the water itself it fits right in and is a genuine pleasure to see.  I had mixed emotions though as a teacher in a state funded school, with facilities that cannot hope to rival this.  These were bought into focus a little further down river, where not far from the river full of healthy focused looking youngsters aboard state of the art equipment I came across another group of less well equiped students in a field clearly also used to exerise dogs, and with a teacher with one stop watch and twice the number of children.


I am no less amazed and impressed by the wonderful Boat House, but really cannot understand how as a civilised society we cannot allow all children similar opportunities.  As I pondered this I settled down to read the Guardian, and a lovely piece by the venerable Alan Bennett http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jun/17/alan-bennett-attack-private-education-lecture-wrong.  He pulls no punches:

"My objection to private education is simply put. It is not fair. And to say that nothing is fair is not an answer. Governments, even this one, exist to make the nation's circumstances more fair, but no government, whatever its complexion, has dared to tackle private education."

This echoes my beliefs in education and so many other areas.  One of the first lessons I learnt was "Life's not Fair" followed rapidly by "But that doesn't mean we have to accept it."  As someone working in Fair Trade you would expect me to be motivated by fairness. He is right.  All children should have the same opportunities, and schools in areas like Worcester suffer from having so many bright and well supported families opting out of the state system.  Those children also lose out by not being integrated with the whole of the society that they belong to.  Integration is key.  And here I believe that faith schools are just as much of a problem.  Separating at a young age sends the wrong message and explains why many ordinary people are disenchanted with politics - the politicians are separated from them - most of our current cabinet like the one before it came through private unfair education.

This label in a bargain item of clothing bought in Primark "Degrading Sweatshop Conditions" has again bought cotton production into the spotlight.  The truth is that if most of us could see the conditions many people work in we would not hesitate to purchase the pricier but fairer alternatives.  Degrading workers in de facto slavery conditions is something we can only tolerate because we cannot see it. 

What do you think?

 

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