So how would you react if you were asked to pay to send your child to a state school?
A few weeks ago Dr Anthony Seldon, an educationalist and biographer of Tony Blair, published a pamphlet that suggested exactly that.
He said families earning more than £80,000 a year should have to pay something to go to a popular state school, with those earning £200,000 plus paying the full cost. There’d be a super premium charged for the most popular schools too.
To many this may sound like something worth thinking about, but I’d like to persuade you it’s a lousy idea – that something as seemingly simple as this is a nightmare for a government to implement and how, in the long run, it would almost certainly be self-defeating anyway.
Consider for a moment these simple variables: what do we mean by a family income of £80,000; what do we mean by the ‘full cost’ of school; what do we mean by the ‘most popular’; what do we do if someone’s income changes; what happens if a school becomes less ‘popular’; how do teachers react to those parents paying, as opposed to those not paying? What would be the response of the private school market to this change?
And that’s just a few off the top of my head! My point here is that for every simple-looking idea out there that seems like a great solution to a problem, there is a whole heap of unanswered questions swimming along behind.