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The kids call it “a shit school,” shorthand for their parents’ opinion of the local secondary school. These kids will go to a private, or a “good,” public school. Anywhere but their local secondary school, the one I call Pariah College.


Pariah Colleges can crop up anywhere. They are the schools that miss out in a district when parents make their choices – of secondary schools especially but also of primary schools. Private schools and selective public schools are the top choices. After that, public opinion shuffles the rest into good and bad. The biggest losers are usually categorised as disadvantaged, but even in poor areas where every school is officially disadvantaged there will be Pariahs.


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