The news that a flagship inner city academy had failed in England prompted a question which has long lain dormant. Has the comprehensive school ideal succeeded or failed?
In one sense the comprehensives have succeeded. The grammar school / secondary modern system of state education has largely disappeared. Privilege has been uprooted.
More realistically the less effective comprehensive schools are found by and large in the inner cities. Hence even a Labour government found the need to invent the City Academies. And now one of those has been taken into special measures. Looking up its website, I find that it has not been updated for at least two years. Oh dear.
It would appear that for several generations of students, schools in the inner cities have too often provided a poorer quality of education while purporting to provide the same opportunities for learning as their counterparts in leafy suburbia. The curriculum and syllabus may be the same, the exams identical but if the results are consistently poorer do we blame the comprehensive system or the students themselves?