Up the creek without a paddle : Mossbourne again

There’s been a great story in the last two days about one of my old favourites, Mossbourne, announcing that it plans to select some of its children by “aptitude to row”.

Immediately, a brief spat broke out between those who saw this as a proxy for selection by “aptitude-to-have-wealthy-parents”, and those who thought such carping was merely left-wing nonsense; nothing wrong with boats; rowing isn’t posh etc etc. I even got involved myself a bit below the line on the Guardian website.

During that discussion, one fellow contributor pointed out that Mossbourne is near the River Lea, and there is a boat club there which is a community club going strong for many years. So apparently it was perfectly normal and to be expected that local schools should focus on rowing, and it was merely my prejudice which prevented me from seeing that rowing is a sport for all which, apparently “lots of state schools” practice (I’ve never, ever come across one, and while I’m sure there are some, I think we may be stretching the definition of “lots” here).

Anyway, I’m going to keep this blog very short, and merely post this


This is the Facebook photos page for that nearest rowing club. They look like lovely people having a lovely time. Now look again. This is in Hackney, remember. Go on, see if you can work out why some of us might consider this to be simply another cunning way to reserve spaces in Mossbourne for those from the most affluent of local backgrounds.

“Aptitude for rowing”. My arse.


8 thoughts on “Up the creek without a paddle : Mossbourne again

  1. Ha.

    My children both learned to row at Lea RC (i live in Hackney). There were a lot more black kids there a few years ago. But my kids tell me the club has changed markedly.

    Not relevant to your post – which is bang on – but when the kids learn to row they learn in wide botttomed boats. All the boats have ILEA on the side – which all the kids read as I-Lea and ask what connection it has to I-pads etc.

    But ILEA was the last education authority to put any money into it.


    Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary, National Union of Teachers http://www.teachers.org.uk


  2. The entire notion of selecting 10% of students by ‘aptitude’ (most notably for school-specialist subjects) is flawed, given that no one has a good way of distinguishing aptitude from ability at age 11… When my old school brought in this for performing arts, it was pretty clear what the aim was…


  3. Don’t know so much about the rowing side but the kayaking side of the club has wide mix and specialises in taking disaffected youth and transforming their lives.


  4. Look on the LEA RC website at the fees.
    Demonstrating an aptitude to row costs.
    Oh, and if you apply for a concessionary membership as unemployed you are obliged to undertake extra duties for the club.

    I have nothing against young people learning to row – quite the opposite. Perhaps rather than creating reserved spaces for those already enjoying the privilege, Mossbourne could use some Pupil Premium to enable those who can’t afford it to join the club and learn.


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