/ Private schools

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stella1 - on 21 Jan 2013
I've just read an article on the Independant site (sorry ukc won't let me post link) which basically says private schools provide a better education but should be banned as there is an unfair divide between private and state schools. Why should we ban something which is working better? Why not put more government money towards bursaries allowing parents from poorer backgrounds to pay school fees?

I know the answers to these questions, putting money towards private not state education is going to deepen the divide and I personally don't like the fact that if you are from a low income family private education is typically out of reach, but when my son goes to school and I have the choice of sending him to the local state school (which isn't terrible) or getting a better education privately why should I (and he) be denied that?
Jackie Magpie - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:

I don't think they should be banned.

There are things that need to be done to reduce the gap between private and state schools but I don't think banning private schools is the answer as the effect that will have is reduce the quality of all students.

I think the major problem with state schools since the abolition of the grammar school is that high schools now have to provide for all ranges of intelligence. The net effect is to concentrate on the 'average' student thereby letting down both the gifted and those who are less so.

I think the academies that have been the subject of the previous and current governments educational policy are a good idea but they cater for the top end of the academic spectrum which still leaves the less intelligent behind. What to do with those? I don't know but I suspect that introducing more vocational training, stopping this expectation that everyone must go to university and recognising that not everyone will achieve the same level of academic success are all important steps...
balmybaldwin - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:

What ever course of action the government takes, there will always be "unfairness" in the system.

A few examples:
1. Your parents are poor, but they care about your education and push you to get good grades.

2. Your parents are rich, choose to send you to private school to get you better grades

3. Government bans private schools in favour of equality. Result, there is less money per student (Private schools receive no government funding so funding would have to stretch to more pupils). Rich parents still pay for additional tutoring outside of school to get their kids better grades

4. Your Parents are poor and don't care about you or your education... you fail just like your parents did.


It is probably worth considering if the success of parents is a greater indicator of likely educational outcome for their children rather than the school system the child happens to be in. There are some very poor teachers in private schools, and some very good ones in state schools.

andy - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Jackie Magpie:
> (In reply to stella1)
>

>
> I think the major problem with state schools since the abolition of the grammar school is that high schools now have to provide for all ranges of intelligence.

They've not been abolished - there aren't many, but we still have them in Skipton and Ripon. What tends to happen is parents who can afford it have their kids tutored to pass the 11+, with the effect that they're still not truly representative (having said that Skipton's a pretty middle class place).

> I think the academies that have been the subject of the previous and current governments educational policy are a good idea but they cater for the top end of the academic spectrum which still leaves the less intelligent behind.

I don't think they're not allowed to be selective unless they already were - my daughter's school is a grammar and an academy, but there's a comprehensive just down the road that's an academy and takes kids based on catchment area not ability.
Edradour - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to andy:
> (In reply to Jackie Magpie)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> They've not been abolished - there aren't many, but we still have them in Skipton and Ripon. What tends to happen is parents who can afford it have their kids tutored to pass the 11+, with the effect that they're still not truly representative (having said that Skipton's a pretty middle class place).
>

Are they selective according to academic ability? We have a school that's called a grammar school down the road but it takes everyone in the catchment area.
> [...]
>
> I don't think they're not allowed to be selective unless they already were - my daughter's school is a grammar and an academy, but there's a comprehensive just down the road that's an academy and takes kids based on catchment area not ability.

I don't know the selection rules for an academy but I think they attract greater funding, don't have to follow the National Curriculum and other advantages. Could be wrong mind...
stella1 - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to balmybaldwin:

> It is probably worth considering if the success of parents is a greater indicator of likely educational outcome for their children rather than the school system the child happens to be in. There are some very poor teachers in private schools, and some very good ones in state schools.

I think this is a point which a number of anti-private education people tend to use to illustrate that it is a cycle which needs to be broken where high achievers who were privately educated send their own children to a private school, while low achievers continue to have a low achieving trend.

Trangia - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:

If private schools were banned, the state system wouldn't cope with the increase in pupils and additional financial strain.

Yes, of course it is elitist, but so are a lot of things in life.
andy - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Edradour:
> (In reply to andy)
> [...]
>
> Are they selective according to academic ability? We have a school that's called a grammar school down the road but it takes everyone in the catchment area.

Yep, that's why they do 11+. There's comprehensive grammars near us in West Yorkshire - Ilkley and Bingley Grammars are both non-selective. Then there's Bradford Grammar which is selective and private!

> [...]
>
> I don't know the selection rules for an academy but I think they attract greater funding, don't have to follow the National Curriculum and other advantages. Could be wrong mind...

They control their own budget and don't have to buy services from the local authority - so for example Skipton Girls' High School are a selective academy - they decided that they didn't want to use North Yorkshire's selection process (where all in-area kids do 11+ at school unless they're opted out) and went into a consortium with some of the lancashire grammar schools (Lancaster Royal, Lancaster Girls', Clitheroe, Rawtenstall and Bacup I think) and now you have to opt in and go and do the exams on a Saturday morning - which caused great hilarity in our house from eldest daughter as her sister had to go to school on a Saturday morning.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:

If private schools are banned billions of pounds of middle class parents money that is currently spent on education will go into bidding up property prices. Instead of buying their kids an education parents will buy their kids a flat. Government will either have to raise taxes to pay for the extra kids in the state system or spend less per child.

Everyone is better off if those that can afford it put their money into education. The extra money available for education raises the overall competitiveness of the UK workforce relative to other countries and provides skills we can all benefit from. Educating an engineer or a doctor benefits everyone that uses their services as well as the person themselves.
Indy - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:

The problem here is that people with money will always get their children a better education even in the non-private sector.

How many good schools ask parents for 'contributions' towards extra books,trips, teachers etc
balmybaldwin - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:
> (In reply to balmybaldwin)
>
> [...]
>
> I think this is a point which a number of anti-private education people tend to use to illustrate that it is a cycle which needs to be broken where high achievers who were privately educated send their own children to a private school, while low achievers continue to have a low achieving trend.

The only way to know for sure is to do a pupil swap i.e. private school kids go to a state and vice versa and see what the results are like.
EeeByGum - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1: I am not really sure. I do however think they should have their charitable status withdrawn though.
Jim Hamilton - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:
> Why not put more government money towards bursaries allowing parents from poorer backgrounds to pay school fees?

It's not "governement" money it's taxpayers money, so why should they pay to send your child to a private school. And at say £20k annual fees for one child (£40k earned) it's not just low income families who can't afford it. The "fair" way to do it is to raise the comp schools standards. Selective grammar schools provide private school education for the intellectually privileged, paid for by the taxpayer !
winhill - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:

I couldn't see the article at the Indie - you could post the title or remove some characters from the URL if you want to help people find it.

Some research suggests that private school pupils are not better by the time they finish university - it's just that they are much more likely to get in.

The bursaries would be possible but by the time the kids have finished school the gummint would have paid an extra £100K to educate the child.

I can't make sense of what you say about being denied access - are you saying ALL pupils should go to private school? Or that your son has been accepted but you can't afford to send him? You can apply for scholarships but even then parents pay for extra tuition in year 6 to help the kids with the exam, so are you saying you want him to be given extra lessons? Who knows, it doesn't make a lot of sense.
fil - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Jim Hamilton:

Since when has intellect been a privilege............?
stella1 - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Jim Hamilton:
> (In reply to stella1)
> [...]
>
> It's not "governement" money it's taxpayers money, so why should they pay to send your child to a private school. And at say £20k annual fees for one child (£40k earned) it's not just low income families who can't afford it. The "fair" way to do it is to raise the comp schools standards. Selective grammar schools provide private school education for the intellectually privileged, paid for by the taxpayer !

Well they pay to send a child to a state school, I have no idea what state education works out per child but would be interested if anyone had the stats. Plus while these privileged families are paying for their kids to go to school they are also paying taxes which pay for state education.

Also I don't think 20K is typical from my experience of looking at private schools (this is in the north of England so data my be skewed). I would say that £10k is more like it for secondary school and sixth form and a little less in junior schools. A considerable amount still but not out of the reach for a lot of families, especially with income based scholarships, fair enough impossible for typical income earners with a number of children.

How do you suggest we improve state school standards?
Jaffacake - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:

I went to public school from the age of 14 and do not think they should be banned. I don't think my education was particularly better or anything (the state school I went to before hand was the best in the district at the time) but when you're a smart but weird and socially inept child who attracts bullies like a wasp to the sugary beverage of your choice the difference between state and public school is massive.

My partner also went to public school, from a much earlier age than me, his background is very different to mine, he came to the grammar from a council estate. He thinks it made a big difference to how he turned out as he says he was growing into a right little shit before he got an assisted place at the private prep school.

For me the difference with between state and public school wasn't so much the teachers as the other children. I was so unhappy at state school, I don't know how much is normal kid behaviour but I have things I've written about wanting to kill myself from 6/7 years old, I often deliberately hurt myself to get out of break time in infant school, when that became harder in junior school (as a grazed knee wasn't an excuse to be indoors, also because my parents met with the headmaster a number of times over the rather large number of injuries I sustained during break time) I spent a number of my lunch breaks hiding behind the cupboard units in the classroom (I was very small) or climbing trees to hide. It was a bit easier in high school, I joined the 'IT Team' which meant I could jump the lunch queue and didn't have to eat with everyone else in my year, always had somewhere safe to go during breaks and lunch times and could sometimes miss lessons.

I guess you could argue that having half the nice (or just fellow socially inept) kids in a different school increases the ratio of little shits to pick on the bullied who aren't lucky enough to escape them.
Sam_in_Leeds - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:

I personally think the government should keep it's nose out of what people choose to spend their money on?

If you can afford it, pay for it.

I'd personally like to ban SKY TV and left-wing broadsheet newspapers but hey ho.
stella1 - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to winhill:
> (In reply to stella1)
>
> I can't make sense of what you say about being denied access - are you saying ALL pupils should go to private school? Or that your son has been accepted but you can't afford to send him? You can apply for scholarships but even then parents pay for extra tuition in year 6 to help the kids with the exam, so are you saying you want him to be given extra lessons? Who knows, it doesn't make a lot of sense.

I was just saying that in the hypothetical scenario of lets ban private education he would be denied access. Will post the article title shorly, its time for tea. :-)
stella1 - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to winhill: If you google "independent ban private schools" you can find the article.
ads.ukclimbing.com
stella1 - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Jaffacake:
> (In reply to stella1)

> He thinks it made a big difference to how he turned out as he says he was growing into a right little shit before he got an assisted place at the private prep school.
>

This was my personal experience, was a little shit and a 50% fee grant meant my parents could afford to send me to a private school at age 11, as well as cutting back on other things. I was already heading down a bad path by that age and am sure it got me where I am in life. Not just because of the education but the atmosphere and the other people.
stella1 - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to winhill:
> (In reply to stella1)

> The bursaries would be possible but by the time the kids have finished school the gummint would have paid an extra £100K to educate the child.


If I send my child to state school the government pays. If I choose to send him to a private school thus reliving the government of that financial burden would it not be fair if they paid a little towards a private education? It was going to cost them say 100k if the child was in state school.

I realise that this would necessitate higher taxes or decrease the standard of state education but it does seem like the fairest option, those who choose to pay extra for a private education get a little back of what they have paid in taxes towards the cost of going private.
Tall Clare - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:

I think the key thing in what you say is that in that scenario you would *choose* to send your child into private education. Is it right that you should be financially compensated for making a choice that a lot of people aren't able to make?
Tall Clare - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Sam_in_Leeds:
> (In reply to stella1)
>
>
>
> If you can afford it, pay for it.
>


Does that sentiment also apply to people paying 'their fair share' (whatever that might be) of tax, etc?
stella1 - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: I understand your point and don't disagree it is choice, I am choosing to send my child and will find a way to pay no matter what.

I am trying to think about how that choice could be made possible for more people to make, and if the government could hand over the decision making power to parents who are forced to pay for a state education system which they don't think is effective and don't use. Then again if that was how taxes work a I would be due a rebate as I've not used the fire department, or police etc. this year.
Tall Clare - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:

I'm playing devil's advocate a little, as my partner sends his kids to private school (personally I think they'd be better off in the excellent village primary, but his ex wouldn't hear of it).

The idea of giving parents 'a pot of money' with which to choose how their children are educated is interesting, though as an outsider (I don't have kids) it already seems that parents have quite a lot of say in how their children are educated, whether in the state or independent sector - and rightly so.
Lord_ash2000 - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1: I donít think you should ban them, not at all. I went to fairly mediocre state school but Iím no way against private ones. If you have the money why should your children have to receive inferior education when itís within your means to provide better? You still pay your taxes and thus your share of the state schools cost so itís not like you harm state education. Itís like the NHS, why suffer with average care when you can pay to have the very best?

I agree there is a gap in educational standards between private and state schools but this problem should be tackled by raising up the bottom rather than dragging down the top.
stella1 - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: I'm trying to be as unbiased as possible. My sons not at school yet but will be going to a state primary school up the road which has a nice reputation in a year, however the secondary schools are not great and I personally would like him to go private.

Its years away yet but I am pretty convinced I would want him to have the same opportunities I had. Plus I pay almost 10k a year in childcare at the moment so if I can cope now hopefully will be able to in the future.
marsbar - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:My view is that private schools are a luxury, if you want to send your kids fine, but there are some excellent state schools and I would rather see tax payers money spent there, for example giving extra tuition to kids whose parents can't afford it. As charities, private schools should be forced to let state school kids use their facilities.
stella1 - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to marsbar:
The problem is that *some* state schools are excellent, the ones in my catchment area aren't, and the better state schools tend to be more expensive areas in terms of house prices. So really even the state system favours the more well off.

>As charities, private schools should be forced to let state school kids use their facilities

A number of private schools do allow other schools to use some of their facilities at certain times, particularly sports pitches. Why do you think they should be forced? They are charities but why does this mean they should be forced?
John W - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:

> I've just read an article on the Independant site

Independent - fixed that for you :-)
rwong9 - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1: This is very analgous to the NHS vs private care argument. Yes this is a 2 tier system, and not ideal, but we have to be pragmatic. There isnt the money in government coffers to bring the NHS up to private care standards. The benefits of private medicine can be purchased, but this also improves NHS care for everyone else as the costs of those who go private are saved. Should the government contribute to each patient's private care. I think not. Why should the masses taxes pay towards the care of the wealthier? If you want private care - you can pay for it yourself.
marsbar - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1: Because if they were treated as businesses (which they are) instead of charities then they would be contributing in other ways.

As for the better schools being in better areas, that's not always as true as people think, just that in more middle class areas the kids are pushed harder by their parents and its easier for schools in better areas to show good results because they start with a better cohort. Some really good schools don't always have the highest results, but do well for their pupils. Anyway by the time your child is older everything may have changed again.
Tall Clare - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to marsbar:

I know of at least one state secondary school round here that has a reputation for 'resting on its' laurels', relying on the catchment of middle class kids with pushy parents in order to maintain good grades - apparently the teaching/facilities etc really aren't all that compared to other state schools locally.
stella1 - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to marsbar:
> (In reply to stella1) Because if they were treated as businesses (which they are) instead of charities then they would be contributing in other ways.

Do they make a profit?
stella1 - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to John W:
> (In reply to stella1)
>
> [...]
>
> Independent - fixed that for you :-)

Good for you. You may note that in my other posts I have spelled it correctly but when I type fast my spelling, grammar and general ability to make coherent arguments can disappear. Its good to know that there are pedants like yourself to help out.
Jaffacake - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:

I don't think it's fair for tax payer money to be spent on private schools except to fund places for people who couldn't otherwise afford it.

I may be biased here, as my partner and several of my friends were on assisted places paid for by the government (under a scheme dropped a couple of years after they started I think) and so wouldn't have had the opportunities they did if they hadn't had the option. The schools some of them were supposed to go to were absolutely awful.

I don't know what the answer is though. I feel that all children should have the same opportunity regardless of parental income, but I don't see how you can do that as it's impossible to give it to all children, surely any kind of separation will benefit some while disadvantaging others.

But is it fair to keep the kids who would otherwise be separated in a living hell so you don't disadvantage the shits that torment them?
Jaffacake - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Jaffacake:

But then if you're spending tax payers money to send people who are smart but in shitty school areas to private schools shouldn't you instead spend that money on improving the schools? I realise I'm arguing with myself here.
The New NickB - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Jaffacake:
> (In reply to Jaffacake)
>
> But then if you're spending tax payers money to send people who are smart but in shitty school areas to private schools shouldn't you instead spend that money on improving the schools? I realise I'm arguing with myself here.

You're right though, so don't worry about it! Private schools get better results because they are selective and because they have more resources. Bursuries sound good to the Michael Goves of this world and public schools protecting their preferential tax status, but it isn't a very efficient way of improving educational achievement.
stella1 - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Jaffacake: yes I would only suggest taxpayer money gets given to families below a certain income, so it only goes to those who could not afford to send their child without assistance.
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stella1 - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Jaffacake: I think its hard not to argue with yourself on this one. I have a strong opinion on this subject and would send my child to private school, but I don't think it is fair that it is not available to everyone. I would like to improve the state system and think that sending your children to private schools undermines this, but when it comes to your own child its hard not to put their individual needs first.
baron - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1: Most private schools achieve higher exam results - the main measure of education these days - because
a)they often select the most academic pupils
b)they often have parents who support their children
State schools mostly achieve lower results because a) and b) aren't always true and they also contain a number of children who don't value an education.
Being a successful school is in no great way dependent on money but has much more to do with the quality of the teaching/support staff and the enthusiasm of the pupils.

What some private schools can do that state schools will never be able to do is to provide a network of 'contacts' who can help you through later life.


pmc
Sam_in_Leeds - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Jaffacake:
> (In reply to Jaffacake)
>
> But then if you're spending tax payers money to send people who are smart but in shitty school areas to private schools shouldn't you instead spend that money on improving the schools? I realise I'm arguing with myself here.


Erm, nu-labour tried that. Money doesn't equal good schools.
The New NickB - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to baron:

Compare class sizes, that will be the biggest factor in the performance of any two comparable groups. Smaller class sizes cost more money!

It is all about money. Sure selecting bright kids helps with results, but actually it is often less bright and dedicated kids that benefit most from the extra support that their parents pay for at a private school.

Connections are good to, but that is about money as well.
The New NickB - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Sam_in_Leeds:
> (In reply to Jaffacake)
> [...]
>
>
> Erm, nu-labour tried that. Money doesn't equal good schools.

Well they improved results and a lot of buildings are not longer falling over on the pupils! Lots wrong with the Labour tenure over education, but trying to catch up on spending after years of neglect wasn't one of them.
Jon Stewart - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to balmybaldwin:
> (In reply to stella1)
> [...]
>
> The only way to know for sure is to do a pupil swap i.e. private school kids go to a state and vice versa and see what the results are like.

Well yes, a randomised control trial would tell us, and I'd be fascinating to know the answer - shame about the practicalities, often the way. My own hunch would be that the 'extra' you pay for is actually pretty small, in that if you're bright and have had an upbringing that really encourages learning and doing well at school, then you'll do fine at a state school. I went to a really good, very mixed state school with lots of ethnic minorities including a good handful of refugees straight from Somalia who didn't know what the hell was going on, some white working class kids, some middle class kids. Guess what, the middle class kids who'd been brought up with loads of books and visits to the Natural History Museum at weekends, whose parents had high expectations which they passed on to their children did really well and got top grades, and those from poorer social backgrounds did less well. I'm sure the school makes a difference, but lots of people - especially politicians - seem to believe that kids are like uniform materials going into a factory and what comes out the other end depends on how good the machines in the factory are at making kids into GCSE and A-level grades.

I got a great education, got top grades, and feel that I would have missed out on the healthy, diverse social environment had I gone to a private school. I guess I thought that most state schools were like that, but reading this thread, perhaps many more are crap than I realised, and there's a wider gap between catchment areas rather than the mix I experienced?

As for the unfairness of private education being available, it doesn't bother me much. There is certainly an elite of people who go to posh schools, top universities and get top jobs, and opportunities are handed down from one generation to the next. While it leaves a slightly sour taste (especially when you turn on the TV and see who's running this place), I think any attempt to wipe that out is undemocratic and basically wrong. It's human nature to want to provide the best for your kids, and I don't believe anyone would vote for policies that prevent you from doing so (except for some far-left extremists). The important thing is that ordinary kids are not prevented from being top doctors, lawyers, politicians, etc by receiving a crap education and not having access to funding. Yes, it might be harder for someone from a poor background to become a surgeon or a minister, but as long as it's perfectly possible then I reckon that's a reasonable balance - you can't have it both ways, there are consequences of living in a democracy rather than some crazy centrally planned regime.

I don't think that state education needs to be 'as good' as private education, that would make no sense and be utterly unaffordable. It just needs to be good enough that it gives bright kids ample opportunities to get into the top universities, and of course to give them a more generally sound education in terms of social values and the value of learning itself.
Goucho on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:
> (In reply to stella1) I am not really sure. I do however think they should have their charitable status withdrawn though.

All that would do is double the fees, and make them even more exclusive.

With the charitable status, it means private education is within the grasp of middle England - many parents make large financial sacrifices to put their children private - to presume that everyone who sends their children private earns a minimum of £100k a year and lives in a mansion is somewhat inaccurate.

nniff - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:


Removing charitable status would not double the fees - it would add 20% VAT. That would force many parents who struggle to pay the fees out of the private system. More schools would close - and there are many close to the edge already.

Personally, I always found it difficult to accept the 'privileged' argument. There is of course an income threshold, but all of my wife's salary while the kids were growing up went on school fees and we lived on what was left of mine. It was never easy. Now it's a slightly less arduous task of making sure that they leave university without too much debt.

We could have done other things with the money, but it's our choice what we did with it. I could have spent it on a BMW and skiing, perhaps. I'm happier with a little Toyota with 100k on the clock and kids who have the best start in life that we think we could have managed.

My wife's job? she's a teacher, alternating between private and state schools over the years, and now the Headmistress of a thriving prep school - once her responsibilities for the kids were reduced, she was able to look after her own career. Almost all of the parents in her school have to work hard to send their kids there (or have worked very hard to get to a position where they find it easier).




Jim Hamilton - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Goucho:
> (In reply to EeeByGum)
> [...]
>
> to presume that everyone who sends their children private earns a minimum of £100k a year and lives in a mansion is somewhat inaccurate.

I see the day tuition fees for Sedbergh (I don't know if this is representative for a north of England private school) are £20,790/year, so plus extras say £25,000 or £50k earnings. If one goes so does the other, so £100k not far off ?
andy - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Jim Hamilton:
> (In reply to Goucho)
> [...]
>
> I see the day tuition fees for Sedbergh (I don't know if this is representative for a north of England private school) are £20,790/year, so plus extras say £25,000 or £50k earnings. If one goes so does the other, so £100k not far off ?

Sedbergh, Giggleswick etc are expensive compared to places like Bradford Grammar and Leeds Grammar - both the latter are nearer £10-12k a year - still a grand a month. We had a scare that the youngest might have blown her 11+ and we weren't keen on the alternative in Skipton so we looked into local privates - although we probably would still have sent her to the state school, as we'd decided that she'd probably be fine in the local comprehensive.

Banj - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:

> How do you suggest we improve state school standards?

Simple, get rid of the absurd 'no child shall be left behind' policy.
People are not vacuum cleaners, we don't develop at the same rate. The school year a child is in should depend on the academic standard they have reached (with some safeguards and limits to protect prodigies from university life) I believe that a big part of the difference in performance between independent and state schools is that (many) independent schools (in my personal experience) instill a sense of needing to meet a standard to progress, starting from the selection to get in and continuing throughout the school. My kids' school required a minimum of 6 B grades at GCSE to continue at the school's 6th form. Independent schools have some flexibility in school age and most years have a handful of kids who would be in the year ahead in the state system regardless of their needs. This is a mutually taken decision by the school and parents usually when a kid is just a slow-starter. You end up with a 6-year-old in a class full of 5-year-olds who are all intellectually on the same page, whereas in the state system, you get a 'slow' six-year-old in a class of 'normal' six-year-olds who can't cope, distracts the rest , etc. etc.
I understand and even pushed the socialistic arguments about not letting bright kids get ahead of less bright kids at school and now that I have seen them in practice for a few decades, I can see how wrong we all were back then. . . It's the same kind of thinking that effectively killed off competitive sports in state schools, because "it's bad for the ones that lose".
Making it necessary for a child to reach a standard to advance to the next school year would focus teachers and parents as well as the children and would even motivate parents who don't really care about education. Of course it would be mayhem to start and the nature of this particular democracy means it could never happen. Mediocrity is here to stay.

In reply to marsbar:
> (In reply to stella1) As charities, private schools should be forced to let state school kids use their facilities.

Force may be too strong a word, but they actually have guidelines that cover the contribution to the community for which their charitable status is granted. Use of facilities is part of it but there are other facets like scholarships and bursary for kids who make (actually excel at) the entry requirements but can't afford the fees.

If we ban private schools, what happens to sport? In Beijing, 40% of team GB's Olympic medals came from the 7% of the population that is privately educated. In the London Games, it was 37%.
I don't have figures but I suspect the divide is even wider in Cricket and Rugby. I can speak for Hockey; last year, the Essex under 16 side (East of England Champs) had one state-school kid.
andy - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to nniff:
> (In reply to stella1)
>
>
> Removing charitable status would not double the fees - it would add 20% VAT. That would force many parents who struggle to pay the fees out of the private system. More schools would close - and there are many close to the edge already.
>

Quite a few seem to be trying to become Gove's favourite "Free Schools" - sort of half returning to the state system whilst still keeping control of their budget etc.

John_Hat - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Banj:

> like scholarships and bursary for kids who make (actually excel at) the entry requirements but can't afford the fees.

That would be me.... Actually, as I've said before on here, I think the only difference between a private school and the rest is the private school makes you work.

It's amazing how well even the thickest or mosat lazy kid can do at exams if you're in school 6 days a week and have 4 hours homework a night.

I wasn't the thickest, but given a chance I'd have auditioned for the most lazy...
Father Noel Furlong on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Banj:
> (In reply to stella1)
>
> [...]
>
> Simple,

My God! Who are you? You should run for Prime Minister, or even patent your idea, you'd make a fortune.....oh that's right you're talking shite.

> Making it necessary for a child to reach a standard to advance to the next school year would focus teachers and parents as well as the children and would even motivate parents who don't really care about education

I'm currently supporting a child with profound Cerebral Palsy. How do you propose I make sure he's up to the necessary standard to advance onto the next year?
Goucho on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Jim Hamilton: The 'public' boarding schools are always expensive, (even for non-boarding) and you're right with the fees for Sedbergh - you could add Shrewsbury, Repton, Giggleswick etc, right up to Charterhouse, Harrow & Eton - but there are also lots of private 'grammar schools' for around the £10k mark.

Granted it's still expensive, but doesn't need £100k + even for 2, if parents make sacrifices in other areas.
Cú Chullain - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to The New NickB:
> (In reply to baron)
>
> Compare class sizes, that will be the biggest factor in the performance of any two comparable groups. Smaller class sizes cost more money!

I would say discipline is the other huge issue, something public schools are generally very good at installing into pupils often with the full backing and support of parents. I attended public school from the age of 14 onwards and I was staggered by how well behaved the other kids were.

It is worth pointing out though, as well as small orderly classes, discussion, an inquisitive mind and debate were encouraged in an enjoyable atmosphere. There was no Ďthemí and Ďusí relationship between teachers and pupils, there was mutual respect, humour and a genuine sense that staff gave a shit and actually cared. I was pushed to try my best both academically and in sporting pursuits. A Ďcan doí attitude and the notion of personal responsibility was instilled in pupils. I left the school for university full of fond memories, confident and with a sense of direction.


>
> It is all about money. Sure selecting bright kids helps with results, but actually it is often less bright and dedicated kids that benefit most from the extra support that their parents pay for at a private school.

I agree with this, bright kids were pushed hard to fulfil their potential and the less bright were brought up to a decent level. No drifting was really allowed.


> Connections are good to, but that is about money as well.

Never really believed in the whole 'old boy network' thing, I have certainly not come across it in my post school years and I know for a fact that my school tie means bugger all to any would be employer. In my field of engineering you simply will not get the job if you are not up to the task, irrespective of whether you went to Eton or Harrow.
mypyrex - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:
> Why should we ban something which is working better?

Unfortunately it's all part of the dumbing down process started by the previous government and taken on by the present (heavily disguised) Labour government posing as a coalition.
Moondancer - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:

Just wanted to offer a different perspective. I grew up and went to school in The Netherlands. Private schools are highly uncommon, to the extent that even the royal family generally sends their kids to state schools. Both my local primary and secondary consisted of students of a wide range of background, about half or 2/3 being from average middle class families, the rest from working class background, kids of immigrants, some refugees, and a handful of upper class kids. Although I wouldn't say it's a perfect system, I value it because of the wide range of people it brought me in contact with.

Last year I met a group of kids from some of Britain's top private schools and it is clear that their education is more intellectually challenging than the education that I received. Most of them were extremely well spoken, thoughtful and considerate, but there were also a few who quite clearly felt like they were better than others. In my case, through my parents' support and own dedication to learning I got myself into a decent university in the UK and am now doing a postgraduate degree at one of Britain's leading universities (or so say the standard university rankings). Maybe it is easy for me to say as I don't have kids, and had a good experience with the state system myself, but I like to think that education is as much about interacting with a diverse group of people and developing inter-personal skills as it is about intellectual challenges.
John_Hat - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Cķ Chullain:
>
> Never really believed in the whole 'old boy network' thing, I have certainly not come across it in my post school years

Ditto. I have never felt that any advantage is obtained by an old school tie, nor have I ever seen this occur in 15-odd years of being involved in recruitment for my current firm.
elsewhere on 22 Jan 2013
The PM, Chancellor & Mayor of London were all at Eton & members of the Bullingdon Club at Oxford which is an improbable coincidence. That suggests that the 'old boy network' functions and the UK is probably less socially mobile and less meritocratic than most European countries.
John Roberts (JR) - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to elsewhere:

The Chancellor didn't go to Eton actually as everyone assumes. It was St Paul's.
John Roberts (JR) - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:

I haven't got time to get involved in the debate although there is plenty of research in here which is worth reading so that the debate can be informed, including proposed solutions.

http://www.suttontrust.com/public/documents/1open-access-report-march-2012-final.pdf
elsewhere on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to John Roberts (JR):
OK scrub that and make it a less improbable coincidence that they all went to public school within about 10 miles of each other.
John Roberts (JR) - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to elsewhere:

A little known school fact however is that Boris and Ed Miliband went to primary school together.
The New NickB - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to John Roberts (JR):
> (In reply to elsewhere)
>
> A little known school fact however is that Boris and Ed Miliband went to primary school together.

Much better known after featuring on R4 in the past week.
John Roberts (JR) - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to The New NickB:

Must admit, didn't hear it, but clearly!
Ramblin dave - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to John_Hat:
> (In reply to Cķ Chullain)
> [...]
>
> Ditto. I have never felt that any advantage is obtained by an old school tie, nor have I ever seen this occur in 15-odd years of being involved in recruitment for my current firm.

I think there's a difference between the stereotypical "old school ties" thing of just saying "oh you're an Eton man, here have a plum job" and the more realistic sense of just being used to interacting with the sort of people who're looking at employing you and making them feel immediately comfortable with you...

I work in software development, which is generally fairly transparent and meritocratic - because all the public school charm in the world won't help you if you can't write good code - and even there I've seen people who struggle in interviews because they aren't socially comfortable with the sort of enthusiastically geeky conversation that you're trying to engage them in. In that case it was an oxbridge vs not-oxbridge thing, but I'd imagine that in a less rigorously technical area like politics or media giving off the impression of being "the right sort" will get you a lot further.

Not saying that this is inherently a case for banning public schools or anything or even for rewriting your recruitment procedures, just that it's worth being aware that an expensive education can help you to get a job in more ways than just the interviewer being an old school chum...

I think sociologists call this sort of thing social or cultural capital, fwiw...
doz generale - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:
> (In reply to Jaffacake) I think its hard not to argue with yourself on this one. I have a strong opinion on this subject and would send my child to private school, but I don't think it is fair that it is not available to everyone. I would like to improve the state system and think that sending your children to private schools undermines this, but when it comes to your own child its hard not to put their individual needs first.

Often the difference between state and private education isn't that great. The difference sadly is buying your kids into private schools is also going to open doors for them after school. Also private schools tend to groom the kids for certain types of (very well paid) careers whereas state schools will just get your kids through the exams.

As far as getting tax back for not using the state school system is concerned i don't think thats ever going to happen. You pay tax to help educate everyone not just your own kids, after all would you want to live in a society where most people can't read or write in exchange for having to pay less tax?

I think a grammar school system like we had in the past is probably the best way to spot talented kids early despite of their economic background. Since the demise of the grammar school system many gifted kids from humble backgrounds just go unnoticed. It's reflected in our political classes now. We had a golden age of 5 prime ministers in a row from working class backgrounds and grammar schools (ending with John Major) and now it's back
to the old rich elite. We are in danger of forever being governed by unremarkable people with remarkable educations.

Another thing i have always wondered is where do the thick children of the rich go to school? Don't the top schools all have entrance exams? Can you pay extra and still get in?

This is typical of the difference.

One of my cousins went to state schools. She did well has full quota of qualifications and works as a head of teaching department at a state school.

Another cousin of mine went to an expensive private school and has a similar set of qualifications but works in the city and earns about 6 times more then cousin 1.
andy - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to doz generale:
> (In reply to stella1)

>
> Another thing i have always wondered is where do the thick children of the rich go to school?

In the north west of England they go to Giggleswick and Rossall (or so we grammar school oiks told ourselves). Certainly Gigg's facilities are amazing but their academic results are pretty average.


John_Hat - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to doz generale:

> The difference sadly is buying your kids into private schools is also going to open doors for them after school. Also private schools tend to groom the kids for certain types of (very well paid) careers.

Not from my experience they don't.

MG - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to doz generale:
> (In reply to stella1)

It's reflected in our political classes now. We had a golden age of 5 prime ministers in a row from working class backgrounds and grammar schools (ending with John Major) and now it's back
> to the old rich elite.

What about Gordon Brown? And it is entirely possible Milliband (comprehensive) will be next. That would be 7 non-private to 2 private education, which is not far off balanced, particularly after taking account of the fact more private schools select than state schools.
andy - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to John_Hat:
> (In reply to doz generale)
>
> [...]
>
> Not from my experience they don't.

I don't think it's so much that former schoolmates tend to do each other favours, but when it comes to things like lucrative non-exec directorships there is a definite "network" of unadvertised, recommendation-only opportunities that come along, and people will tend to recommend people they know well, and often that's people who were at school or Oxbridge together, or they know someone who knows someone, and often those initial relationships were forged at school.
doz generale - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to doz generale)
> [...]
>
> It's reflected in our political classes now. We had a golden age of 5 prime ministers in a row from working class backgrounds and grammar schools (ending with John Major) and now it's back
> [...]
>
> What about Gordon Brown? And it is entirely possible Milliband (comprehensive) will be next. That would be 7 non-private to 2 private education, which is not far off balanced, particularly after taking account of the fact more private schools select than state schools.

Yes Gordon Brown was state educated but I doubt he would have ever been elected as a prime minister! but that's a different discussion.

Yes you could say it's balanced but do you think now that a university education for anything that doesn't lead to a specific career is once again the preserve of the rich the trend will go towards the rich elite? I'm pretty sure parliament as a whole is far less class representative then it was 15 years ago and is going to get less representative.
Postmanpat on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to doz generale:
> (In reply to stella1)
> [...]
>
> The difference sadly is buying your kids into private schools is also going to open doors for them after school. Also private schools tend to groom the kids for certain types of (very well paid) careers whereas state schools will just get your kids through the exams.
>
Really? For example?
Postmanpat on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to andy:
> (In reply to John_Hat)
> [...]
>
> I don't think it's so much that former schoolmates tend to do each other favours, but when it comes to things like lucrative non-exec directorships there is a definite "network" of unadvertised, recommendation-only opportunities that come along, and people will tend to recommend people they know well, and often that's people who were at school or Oxbridge together, or they know someone who knows someone, and often those initial relationships were forged at school.

What is your evidence for this? There are "networks" of non execs but I don't think they have much if anything to do with schools any more.

MG - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Postmanpat: It's probably fair to say private schools in general have a stronger emphasis on getting pupils to university than state schools, wouldn't you say? Which is in effect opening doors for them.
Jon Stewart - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to doz generale:
> (In reply to stella1)
> [...]
>
> One of my cousins went to state schools. She did well has full quota of qualifications and works as a head of teaching department at a state school.
>
> Another cousin of mine went to an expensive private school and has a similar set of qualifications but works in the city and earns about 6 times more then cousin 1.

I'm guessing here, but I think the reasons for this sort of difference is not what private schools necessarily do, but more what private schools (particularly expensive ones) are. What I mean by this is that by going to an expensive private school you are being singled out as part of an elite, and you are getting different - better - treatment to ordinary people (the vast majority who do not go to an expensive private school). I think that that in itself has a huge impact on one's self-perception - if you have already entered an elite by the time you're a teenager, you're going to retain that position as your grow older. You're likely to have the same qualifications as many other kids, but completely different ambitions and expectations. A kid in a state school whose mum and dad do very ordinary jobs and aren't wealthy might think "I could train to be a vet with these grades, I love animals", while a kid at Eton might have decided that they would obviously be a top surgeon by the age of 13.
Jon Stewart - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

That is, they would have decided by age 13, not actually achieved their ambition!
John_Hat - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to andy:
> (In reply to John_Hat)
> [...]
>
> I don't think it's so much that former schoolmates tend to do each other favours, but when it comes to things like lucrative non-exec directorships there is a definite "network" of unadvertised, recommendation-only opportunities that come along,

There is? Obviously my school was the wrong type of private school!
muppetfilter - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:

> Really? For example?

Politics, military, civil service, banking

ads.ukclimbing.com
Postmanpat on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Postmanpat) It's probably fair to say private schools in general have a stronger emphasis on getting pupils to university than state schools, wouldn't you say? Which is in effect opening doors for them.

They have an emphasis on getting pupils good exam results which is what the poster said State schools did. Don't you think "opening doors for them" implies something less transparent.

I would argue that they are better at guiding pupils to appropriate universities and raising expectations of success but I am not sure I would describe that as "opening doors". It gives pupils the ability to open the doors maybe.

As an aside, wasn't it you,amongst others, who correctly pointed out on another thread that research suggsts family background and "culture" seems to have much more effect on educational and career outcomes than schooling?

Jon Stewart - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Postmanpat) It's probably fair to say private schools in general have a stronger emphasis on getting pupils to university than state schools, wouldn't you say? Which is in effect opening doors for them.

You're forgetting that anyone can go to university these days, all you need is a Btec in nail technology.

I think a massive problem is that schools are way too focused on getting kids to university, considering that being educated to degree level is now meaningless and having some skills to do something useful would serve everyone much better. If you counted every kid who went got onto a crap degree course as a 'fail' for the school and every kid who got a job with training as a 'success' then perhaps we wouldn't be in such a complete mess. Or perhaps the crap courses should simply never have been funded? I digress...
Postmanpat on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to muppetfilter:
> (In reply to Postmanpat)
>
> [...]
>
> Politics, military, civil service, banking

How do they "groom" them for this? What does this mean?

John_Hat - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to various:

In a kind of way people are right about Public schools opening doors, but why and how is not what people expect. Some of this has been mentioned on here. My view is:

1) Private Schools make you work hard
2) They give you a lot more work to do
3) Standard of teaching (may) be better (lower class sizes)
4) The (may) have longer school hours (I did).
5) Discipline is *much* more heavily enforced. They were still caning folk when I was there in 80's.
6) Parents are likely to be more pushy (their money)
7) Parents likely to be better educated (having money in first place)

Result of 1-7 - much better grades. Add that to

8) Parents have higher expectations
9) School has higher expectations (e.g. assuming you will gop to university)

and you end up with kids who are more likely to succeed.

Some of the stuff is self-selecting - i.e. that they have an entrance exam which means that those who even get to attend in the first place are not the bottom slice, academically.

Anyway, the result is that grades are much better, expectations higher, etc.

However, in my experience what does NOT apply is preferential treatment based on just which school you went to, per se.

John_Hat - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to muppetfilter:
> (In reply to Postmanpat)
>
> [...]
>
> Politics, military, civil service, banking

From my own experience, that is utter b*llocks.
MG - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:

> As an aside, wasn't it you,amongst others, who correctly pointed out on another thread that research suggsts family background and "culture" seems to have much more effect on educational and career outcomes than schooling?

I hope you're not expecting me to be consistent are you?
Postmanpat on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Postmanpat)
>
> [...]
>
> I hope you're not expecting me to be consistent are you?

I forgot, it's UKC :-)

MG - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:
> (In reply to MG)
> [...]
>
> They have an emphasis on getting pupils good exam results which is what the poster said State schools did. Don't you think "opening doors for them" implies something less transparent.
>

I suppose it could, but equally it could just be expecting more and showing pupils what they can do. If you are expected from the word go to get strings of As and do well in sport and lead societies etc etc, you are likely to go further than if you given the impression that smiply getting some good grades is a substantial achievement.
Jaffacake - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to doz generale:

> Another thing i have always wondered is where do the thick children of the rich go to school? Don't the top schools all have entrance exams? Can you pay extra and still get in?

I think it depends on the school, some at least I'm sure will allow entry based on sporting merit rather than academic for example.

If we go back to splitting between grammar and comprehensive then does that not negatively impact the ones who don't make it into grammar? I obviously wasn't around back then but I'm sure it's at least stereotyped that if you didn't make it into the grammar then they didn't really bother or care any more.

I don't think the same path is right for everyone though and you can't have a 'one size fits all' approach to education as it will only favour the people who suit that. Part of why my brother did much worse out of public school than I is that he's not remotely academic and is dyslexic, for which he got little to no support for until he left to go to a state college. It was obviously unusual for the grammar to have kids with learning difficulties and so they were a bit crap at it.
Jon Stewart - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to John_Hat:
> (In reply to various)
>
> In a kind of way people are right about Public schools opening doors, but why and how is not what people expect. Some of this has been mentioned on here. My view is:
>
> 1) Private Schools make you work hard
> 2) They give you a lot more work to do
> 3) Standard of teaching (may) be better (lower class sizes)
> 4) The (may) have longer school hours (I did).
> 5) Discipline is *much* more heavily enforced. They were still caning folk when I was there in 80's.
> 6) Parents are likely to be more pushy (their money)
> 7) Parents likely to be better educated (having money in first place)
>
> Result of 1-7 - much better grades. Add that to
>
> 8) Parents have higher expectations
> 9) School has higher expectations (e.g. assuming you will gop to university)
>
> and you end up with kids who are more likely to succeed.
> ...
>
> However, in my experience what does NOT apply is preferential treatment based on just which school you went to, per se.

That is entirely convincing. As I said upthread, it does leave a slightly sour taste that opportunity is handed down from one generation to the next in this way, but the alternative of not allowing people to do the best for their kids and lowering the standard of the best education is far, far worse.
muppetfilter - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to John_Hat:Q. How many of the cabinet went to public school? A. 62%



Postmanpat on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Postmanpat)
> [...]
>
> I suppose it could, but equally it could just be expecting more and showing pupils what they can do. If you are expected from the word go to get strings of As and do well in sport and lead societies etc etc, you are likely to go further than if you given the impression that smiply getting some good grades is a substantial achievement.

Well, I think John's post above covers most of it but I wouldn't use the phrase "opening doors".

I do find it odd the myths that continue about "old boy networks", "opening doors", "grooming for careers" etc.

I have kept in touch with one school mate over the years, primarily because we shared a flat at uni. He occasionally sees two two others who, as it happens work in the charity sector. I bunped into another who has become finance director of a FTSE company who said he had last had a drink with a school friend ten years previously when they bumped into each other on the street in San Francisco.
So whatever else it did my school wasn't much good at encouraging networking and opening doors for each other!

Simon4 - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to doz generale:
> I'm pretty sure parliament as a whole is far less class representative then it was 15 years ago and is going to get less representative.

The main problems with parliament have little to do with class and everything to do with the political parties selecting obedient clones who are entirely professional politicians who have never done anything else and have no connection whatever with the constituency they represent, also to do with parliament itself being emasculated due to the EU grasping ever more power. This is characteristic of all main parties, it is only the despised minor parties that actually have people from any broader background.

To partly solve this problem, the schools people go to is largely irrelevant. It would be useful (and very amusing), to pass a law to say that no-one can become an MP until :

1) They have done another job totally unrelated to politics for at least 5 years
2) Their main residence has been in the constituency concerned for at least 5 years

That should see off the "representative of the parachute brigade" in all parties nicely!

If MPs are dutiful clones who always do what they are told and have very little connection with the area they supposedly represent, we might as well get rid of them and just give the chief whips cards with the number of "constituencies" they hold, so all the others are dispensed with.
andy - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to John_Hat:
> (In reply to andy)
> [...]
>
> There is? Obviously my school was the wrong type of private school!

I suspect you're a bit early in your career for lucrative NED jobs - this is people who are board directors of firms and get tasty NED jobs through their mates either shortly before or shortly after retirement.
Simon4 - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> I think a massive problem is that schools are way too focused on getting kids to university, considering that being educated to degree level is now meaningless ... I digress...

You do. But you are quite right. We have far too many universities, and too many graduates with both a heavy burden of debt, and inflated expectations of their own value. Neither of which are really their fault.

We should have fewer and better universities and graduates and charge them less (selection entirely on academic merit). But getting from there to here is nigh-on impossible, given the vested interests and lobby groups around.
MG - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Simon4: There was an interesting piece in the Economist recently suggesting that view of MPs is now 10 years out of date. On the contrary it is arguable they are now far more independent than in any recent time. Reasons include the availability of easy communication with constituents not filtered by a party machine (Facebook etc.), the loss of whips' control over committee membership and other factors.
andy - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:
> (In reply to andy)
> [...]
>
> What is your evidence for this? There are "networks" of non execs but I don't think they have much if anything to do with schools any more.

I didn't say it was down to who people went to school with (in fact I said it wasn't) - but it is down to networks, and some (not all) networks are formed through school/university.
andy - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Jaffacake:
> (In reply to doz generale) Part of why my brother did much worse out of public school than I is that he's not remotely academic and is dyslexic, for which he got little to no support for until he left to go to a state college. It was obviously unusual for the grammar to have kids with learning difficulties and so they were a bit crap at it.

Are you talking about a state grammar or a public school? Having had two kids through the 11+ in the last three years I spent quite a lot of time reading 11+ message boards and there seems to be a fair number of parents with (for example) dyslexic kids putting them through 11+.
Jon Stewart - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Simon4:

Haha - I honestly think we agree! And I have no problem with students paying for their own education, I just think they shouldn't be conned into paying £30K for a load of pointless crap.
Jim Hamilton - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to :


http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/research-reveals-widening-social-divide-profession

It may not be an "old-boy" network but it seems that a large proportion of top lawyers are privately educated.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Postmanpat on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to andy:
> (In reply to Postmanpat)
> [...]
>
> I didn't say it was down to who people went to school with (in fact I said it wasn't) - but it is down to networks, and some (not all) networks are formed through school/university.


The vast majority have nothing to do with school. They are generally networks of people who worked together or in the same industry. At the age of 50+ frankly nobody gives a stuff which school somebody went to. They want somebody who is suitable and qualified for the job.
Banj - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Father Noel Furlong:

>
> I'm currently supporting a child with profound Cerebral Palsy. How do you propose I make sure he's up to the necessary standard to advance onto the next year?

I guess it depends on what you want for him, I have never been in your position, but I can't see how it benefits him to advance through school at the same pace as everyone regardless of whether he has learnt anything or not. What I am advocating is not a system where some children will stay in one class until they are 18, it is a system like the one I was educated in, where children are 'promoted' to the next class when they are ready for the material they will be taught at that level. It is the only way to graduate classes of similarly educated children rather than classes of children born in the same year.

There will always be kids who need extra help and/or even different schooling entirely and they need to be catered for but I feel they will benefit from being taught to a learning target and not to a time limit.

The current system says, "I will try to teach you to count to ten for a year and then whether or not you can, I will pass you to Miss Jones who will try to teach you to count from eleven to twenty" I want school to be about, "I will teach you to count to ten and when you can, I will send you on to Miss Jones to learn to count from eleven to twenty"

The current system gives us kids who leave school unable to read, write or do basic arithmetic, perhaps my suggested solution is manure, I'm always open to feedback. Are you saying the current system is fine, just as it is or that you have a better solution?
Father Noel Furlong on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Banj:
> (In reply to Father Noel Furlong)
>
> The current system says, "I will try to teach you to count to ten for a year and then whether or not you can, I will pass you to Miss Jones who will try to teach you to count from eleven to twenty" I want school to be about, "I will teach you to count to ten and when you can, I will send you on to Miss Jones to learn to count from eleven to twenty"

I would suggest this point shows you don't know what your talking about, unless you're talking about a system alien to the UK. The current system is anything but what you describe.
>
> The current system gives us kids who leave school unable to read, write or do basic arithmetic

And it always has done.
Jim Fraser - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1:

Division in education is one of the most wicked things in the world.

Stop it.
David Myatt - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1: Stella, I don't believe a liberal western democracy should go around banning things. If we started on private schools we'd have to, for the sake of consistancy, add in private health and dentists. How about private sports clubs, rather than the corporation tennis court that I remember using? The list would be never ending.

I should declare an interest...my daughter does go to a private school, one of the expensive ones. £20k pa plus, as a day pupil. She would have done really well at the local secondary school but they wouldn't have her as the village primary school had accelerated her and she was "too young for the cohort". She leaves school this summer at 16, with a place at Cambridge to go to after a gap year. The one thing she wouldn't have got from the local secondary is latin and greek as they don't offer it. As it is, she has one to one tuition in these as she's the only one taking them. Another benefit is the international dimension. My daughter's clique is made up of 2 Russians, a Chinese, a Bruneian, a German and a Scot whose parents are in France. I accept she doesn't have the standard demographic mix now, but she will later.
Father Noel Furlong on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to David Myatt:
> (In reply to stella1)
>
> My daughter's clique is made up of 2 Russians, a Chinese, a Bruneian, a German and a Scot whose parents are in France.

You can get better than that in Newham for a lot less than £20K. :-)

Banj - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Father Noel Furlong:
You can't have it both ways. I say children go through school without having to meet any standards and as such, the only factor that determines which school year a given child is in, is their birth year. I consider this approach detrimental.

You took exception to my view and posited the argument that it would in fact, be detrimental to certain children to make all children have to attain a standard to proceed to the next school year.

Now you are saying that there are in fact standards that have to be attained??
Father Noel Furlong on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Banj:
> (In reply to Father Noel Furlong)
> You can't have it both ways. I say children go through school without having to meet any standards and as such, the only factor that determines which school year a given child is in, is their birth year. I consider this approach detrimental.

Your opinion is duly noted.
>
> You took exception to my view and posited the argument that it would in fact, be detrimental to certain children to make all children have to attain a standard to proceed to the next school year.

Ever seen the Simpsons episode where Bart does just that? 'Nuff said.
>
> Now you are saying that there are in fact standards that have to be attained??

No I didn't, I merely pointed out that you don't understand the current system in the UK, and probably most of the developed western world. I won't debate this further with you as you believe the solution to improving standards is 'simple'. If it were simple why has it not succeeded anywhere in the world? Possibly because the solution, if there even is one, is so complex that it would take more memory than the UKC server could hold.
doz generale - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:
> (In reply to andy)
> [...]
>
>
> The vast majority have nothing to do with school. They are generally networks of people who worked together or in the same industry. At the age of 50+ frankly nobody gives a stuff which school somebody went to. They want somebody who is suitable and qualified for the job.

I think that by sending your kids to a private school you are buying them into a broader social network of people that can and probably will help them get along after school not to mention you are buying into the reputation of the school. I know that my 3 cousins that went to expensive schools they all went straight from uni into highly paid jobs as did a lot of their peers. Even the youngest who isn't that bright somehow has gone straight from uni to a job as a management consultant!

Postmanpat on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to doz generale:
> (In reply to Postmanpat)
> [...]
>
> I think that by sending your kids to a private school you are buying them into a broader social network of people that can and probably will help them get along after school not to mention you are buying into the reputation of the school. I know that my 3 cousins that went to expensive schools they all went straight from uni into highly paid jobs as did a lot of their peers. Even the youngest who isn't that bright somehow has gone straight from uni to a job as a management consultant!

For the reasons John Hat covered!!!!

They get good A levels so they go to good uni's and get decent results so they are likely to get decent jobs. They also have the confidence to make the most of their qualifications. If they are good at their jobs which includes networking with people then opportunities appear.

The contacts made at school don't get them into the network and the network generally does not consist of old school chums. It consists of colleagues, ex colleagues, customers etc. The education provides the skills and confidence for them to enter and succeed in that environment.

But as pointed out above, in reality the home environment is probably just as or more important than the school in encouraging these skills.

For what it's worth my eldest nephew and niece both went to a comprehensive in North East Scotland and appear to entered the "network" via good degrees at Edinburgh.



doz generale - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:

Private schools give their pupils more of a sense of direction. I was at Uni with several privately educated people and they generally knew what they wanted to do after uni and often had already made steps towards those careers, The state school lot seemed to be more vague about what they wanted to do with their education.

I have first had experience of different school systems and to me the difference is stark. My first senior school was a Grammar school which I enjoyed my family moved and I went to a fee paying international school for a year which was good fun but not too good educationally and i finished my secondary education at a comprehensive which basically would just leave you to it if you didn't want to try hard, They didn't bother pushing people to really do their best which was my experience at the Grammar school.
Banj - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Father Noel Furlong: I'm happy that we can agree on one thing. This debate has run its course, you believe that the failure of education we are witnessing in the British state-school system is a worldwide problem and I believe there are many places where they have got it right, including the independent secondary school that I chose for my children.
Postmanpat on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to doz generale:
> (In reply to Postmanpat)
>
> Private schools give their pupils more of a sense of direction. I was at Uni with several privately educated people and they generally knew what they wanted to do after uni and often had already made steps towards those careers, The state school lot seemed to be more vague about what they wanted to do with their education.
>
Which is what John said. They try and instill a work ethic and sense of ambition. That's a good thing, not some freemason's subterfuge.
My daughter was amazed, after independent school, to find lots of ex state school students at uni inventing reasons to skive off lectures ,"like, they're paying to be there.why would they skive off what they're paying for?"
Father Noel Furlong on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Banj:
> (In reply to Father Noel Furlong) I'm happy that we can agree on one thing. This debate has run its course, you believe that the failure of education we are witnessing in the British state-school system is a worldwide problem and I believe there are many places where they have got it right, including the independent secondary school that I chose for my children.

What exactly did we agree on? And what "failure" do you believe exists? Actually don't bother answering that.

I would suggest as you sent your kids to a special school you're even less qualified to debate this than i originally thought.
Jon Stewart - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:
> (In reply to doz generale)
> [...]
> Which is what John said. They try and instill a work ethic and sense of ambition. That's a good thing, not some freemason's subterfuge.

I think there's more than one view of how come students from private schools end up with the sense of direction and propensity for getting top jobs, and you see it in a particular way: that the school "tries to instill a work ethic and sense of ambition".

This runs along the lines of so many debates about schools as I said above: kids are viewed as an input into a process which makes them into successes or failures. I think it's attributing far too much to what the school actually does, and ignores what I think are the main reasons that these kids do better in the job market.

I think the influence of the school in "instilling a work ethic" could well be minimal, and the causal factor is just cultural and social. These kids grow up believing that they are the best, and that they will get the top jobs. Their parents care enormously about education, hence the spending. Perhaps it's enough simply for the parents to have those expectations, for them to demonstrate the importance by sending the kids to special school, for the kids to grow up alongside people who all have parents with those expectations, and for them to develop a self-image as someone who is a high achiever.

I would love to see an experiment where the effect of these social factors was seen in isolation (by comparison to a state school which gave identical teaching and resources). I think (just guessing!) that the school itself would have to take remarkably little credit for the success of the students, and that the social factors of upbringing, peer group and thus self-image would be the keys to success.

Since we haven't got any evidence to support this we don't know if it's true. But I'm not baldly stating it to be the case the way you seem to be doing for the role of the school in your post.
Postmanpat on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Postmanpat)
> [...]
>
>
> Since we haven't got any evidence to support this we don't know if it's true. But I'm not baldly stating it to be the case the way you seem to be doing for the role of the school in your post.

See 5th line of my moment of 2104. I don't really disagree with you but it's can't but be more effective if the school is encouraging the same ethic as the parents. Anecdotally my sister's main issue with the comp mentioned above was a reluctance to aim high. It would rather put children in for easier exams to avoid failure.
I believe much academic work supports the idea that family nvironmnt is more important than schooling but I imagine the factors re difficult to disentangle.
Robert Durran - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> I think the influence of the school in "instilling a work ethic" could well be minimal, and the causal factor is just cultural and social.

I suspect the truth is that if a school, for whatever reason, has a strong work ethic, then, if you put a child in that school, they will tend to go along with that norm and do relatively well in exams and "succeed" in life. The work ethic is self-perpetuating.
Jon Stewart - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> Anecdotally my sister's main issue with the comp mentioned above was a reluctance to aim high. It would rather put children in for easier exams to avoid failure.

Yes, it's very interesting. I would guess that those kids are probably either going to get a crap or mediocre grade in an academic subject, or a slightly better grade in "an easier exam" (but Gove got rid of the real shite that was out there masquerading as worthwhile qualifications). Either way, I doubt the school is preventing them from getting into the top universities.

The govt want to raise standards, so it sets targets or incentives. Schools behave according to those incentives rather than the intention of setting them, we all know that that's how govt policy works whether it's health or education or whatever. The amount of new schools policy that comes out year after year after year, and there being no discernible improvements in the view of universities and employers (the opposite in fact?) proves to me that schools policy in general is waste of time. Just teach kids stuff as has always been done, and inspect schools to make sure they're doing it properly. After all, it's the social factors surrounding the kids' upbringing that are going to decide where they end up in life.

The New NickB - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

Got to say most of the public school kids I have known have not been lacking on the sense of entitlement stakes, but a bit short on work ethic.
Jon Stewart - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>
> [...]
>
> I suspect the truth is that if a school, for whatever reason, has a strong work ethic, then, if you put a child in that school, they will tend to go along with that norm and do relatively well in exams and "succeed" in life. The work ethic is self-perpetuating.

What I'm saying is that the work ethic is created not by the brilliant talent of the teachers and managers, but by being full of kids whose parents are paying for their education. Everyone's working hard because that's how they've been brought up.

It's perfectly sensible, if you want your kids to do well, to take them away from all the poor, badly brought up kids who and let them thrive alongside people who are exactly the same. The reason a state school can't offer the same "work ethic" and "high expectations" isn't because the teachers and managers are crap, it's because they're full of poor people!

Sorry for the blunt language if it offends anyone, I just get a bit bored with the pussyfooting around the obvious issue.
Robert Durran - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> What I'm saying is that the work ethic is created not by the brilliant talent of the teachers and managers, but by being full of kids whose parents are paying for their education. Everyone's working hard because that's how they've been brought up.

And, perhaps, because that's what everyone else around them is doing; parachute a disadvantaged child into a school where working hard is the norm and they will probably work hard too.

I don't disagree with you, but I think you are oversimplifying things.

Jon Stewart - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> And, perhaps, because that's what everyone else around them is doing; parachute a disadvantaged child into a school where working hard is the norm and they will probably work hard too.

I agree, but parachute in too many, and you just have a state school with fees.

>
> I don't disagree with you, but I think you are oversimplifying things.

Yes, I'll admit to that!

Robert Durran - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to The New NickB:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> Got to say most of the public school kids I have known have not been lacking on the sense of entitlement stakes, but a bit short on work ethic.

You may well be right; whether the work ethic of one's school is carried through into life after school is another matter!

Postmanpat on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> [...]
>
>
>
> It's perfectly sensible, if you want your kids to do well, to take them away from all the poor, badly brought up kids who and let them thrive alongside people who are exactly the same. The reason a state school can't offer the same "work ethic" and "high expectations" isn't because the teachers and managers are crap, it's because they're full of poor people!
>
There are plenty of ambitious and hard working poor people. If you take away the teachers' ability to discipline and disguise failure as success you hurt their chances of succeeding.

Robert Durran - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> I agree, but parachute in too many, and you just have a state school with fees.

Probably, if they are all parachuted in together, but add a smallish percentage each year and you might eventually have a school full of disadvantaged children fulfilling their potential.
Goucho on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to doz generale: All my children went to private schools, but the reason we chose that, was simply down to a combination of teacher/pupil ratios, and work ethic/perceived increase in opportunities, not just academic, but pastoral and non academic - sport, music etc.

It was never about the 'school tie' or elitism.

Having my genes in them, also meant they always had the potential to just sit back and take it easy - my academic achievements were mediocre at best - but the ethos and culture at private schools makes that more difficult.

None of my children were ever in a class of more than 14, and if you have that kind of ratio, then by default, a pupil is going to get more one on one time with the teachers, and more attention/nurturing.

And was it worth it?

Well, they all got very good GCSE & A-Level results, and also came out very well rounded and happy individuals, with a wide range of interests and hobbies and an awareness and interest in the world in general, not just X-Box and Facebook!

All three went on to Uni - 2 have graduated, youngest is in his final year - and achieved good degrees in vocational subjects, which will hopefully enable them to have rewarding careers they enjoy - and they had a great (at times wild) time as well.

I can't of course say whether they would, or wouldn't have turned out just the same at state school, but what I can say is, I wasn't prepared to take the chance.



SARS on 23 Jan 2013
We'e all forgetting one important point. School is by and large a complete waste of time. Personally I passed my exams by self study.

Listening to someone drone on for an hour about a subject they don't really understand properly themselves isn't the most efficient way to learn imho.

Good teachers are a rarity.

I don't think I'll force my kids to go to school if they don't want.
Postmanpat on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to SARS:
> We'e all forgetting one important point. School is by and large a complete waste of time. Personally I passed my exams by self study.
>
But you don't know anything!

janiejonesworld - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to stella1: In reply to stella1: if you ignore the endless theoretical debate for a minute and just revert to the simple question - "if all the privately educated people were taken out and shot and the whole system abolished tomorrow would the world be a better or worse place?"' Then hell yeah, subsidise the ammunition for a better tomorrow for the masses
Jon Stewart - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Goucho:
> (In reply to doz generale) All my children went to private schools...

> I can't of course say whether they would, or wouldn't have turned out just the same at state school, but what I can say is, I wasn't prepared to take the chance.

All sounds entirely rational to me. In contrast, I went to a state school, got top grades, went to a top university, yet I've had an utterly unfulfilling career and been a miserable bastard the whole time. Frankly, I don't think the school I went to made any difference to any of that!
SARS on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:

:)

What I don't know I haven't found very useful in life to be honest.
Postmanpat on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to janiejonesworld:
> (In reply to stella1) In reply to stella1: if you ignore the endless theoretical debate for a minute and just revert to the simple question - "if all the privately educated people were taken out and shot and the whole system abolished tomorrow would the world be a better or worse place?"' Then hell yeah, subsidise the ammunition for a better tomorrow for the masses

So you replace a "theoretical debate" with a theoretical and completely unsupported assertion!
Postmanpat on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to SARS:
> (In reply to Postmanpat)
>
> :)
>
> What I don't know I haven't found very useful in life to be honest.

It's your unknown unknowns which are the problem :)

SARS on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
>
> It's perfectly sensible, if you want your kids to do well, to take them away from all the poor, badly brought up kids who and let them thrive alongside people who are exactly the same. The reason a state school can't offer the same "work ethic" and "high expectations" isn't because the teachers and managers are crap, it's because they're full of poor people!

Back on topic. I do think this is clearly nonsense. Plenty of kids from poor background have both drive and intellect to succeed. Numerous examples in every day life and throughout history.

I don't find what you wrote offensive, just stupid really.

Goucho on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Goucho)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
Frankly, I don't think the school I went to made any difference to any of that!

All I can say about my secondary school (I failed my 11+ magnificently), is that if Roger Waters had gone there, then The Wall would be a f*ck site more vicious and acrimonious :-)



Jon Stewart - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to SARS:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> Back on topic. I do think this is clearly nonsense. Plenty of kids from poor background have both drive and intellect to succeed. Numerous examples in every day life and throughout history.
>
> I don't find what you wrote offensive, just stupid really.

Yes I know that some people from poor backgrounds do very well, both academically and in any measure of success you can think of. But what matters is the statistics - where the peak of the bell curve lies. If decisions about stuff that matters (like whether it's worth sending your kids to private school, or whether the government should spend more in order to have smaller class sizes, or pretty much anything really) were based on examples rather than trends, the world would be completely chaotic, which is why examples (those taken from the tales of the bell curve) are of very little use or interest.
SARS on 23 Jan 2013
I shouldn't go on, but it really was the most stupid thing I saw written today.

Take my favorite example and the main inspiration to me as a maths student, Carl Friedrich Guass. Born into a very poor family and only possibly the greatest mathematician of all time.
Jon Stewart - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to SARS:

But unless he's representative of people from his background, it's a nice story but of no relevance.
SARS on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

I think you're misunderstanding causation and correlation.

Poor people in comprehensives may be badly behaved or stupid. But this isn't because they are poor.
Jon Stewart - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to SARS:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>
> I think you're misunderstanding causation and correlation.
>
> Poor people in comprehensives may be badly behaved or stupid. But this isn't because they are poor.

I think it's because of an incredibly complex mesh of interacting social factors which are associated with being poor. Why do you think it is?
ads.ukclimbing.com
The New NickB - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to SARS:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>
> I think you're misunderstanding causation and correlation.
>
> Poor people in comprehensives may be badly behaved or stupid. But this isn't because they are poor.

Some people, possibly a majority, have a tendency to form a world view based on outliers, this isn't a terribly constructive way of thinking.
Simon4 - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Simon4) There was an interesting piece in the Economist recently suggesting that view of MPs is now 10 years out of date. On the contrary it is arguable they are now far more independent than in any recent time.

Sounds like wildly unrealistic optimism. Hard to credit that when you have examples like this (very far from the only case, but a particularly egregious example) :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tristram_Hunt

"Because the candidacy was filled just before the election, the shortlist was drawn up by Labourís ruling National Executive Committee selection panel, with none on the shortlist local to Stoke-on-Trent. This led to the secretary of the Constituency Labour Party, Gary Elsby, standing as an independent candidate against Hunt in protest.[11][12] Despite the controversy of being "parachuted in" to the district Hunt was elected with 38.8% of the vote."

and :

"He is married with one son and two daughters. He lives in London. His brother-in-law is the author Giles Foden"

Not too many Tristrams in Stoke-on-Trent, though his surname is conveniently easy to mispronounce as an obscenity, which I imagine is how he is refered to there. Of course he is enough of toff to be a Guardian columnist, they only take la creme de la creme for their coterie of champagne socialists. Did he actualy know where Stoke-on-Trent was when he was annointed? Does he in fact know where it is now?

> Reasons include the availability of easy communication with constituents not filtered by a party machine (Facebook etc.)

Or rather, the ease with which unrepresentative astroturfing can now be carried out.

> the loss of whips' control over committee membership

No evidence of that, rather the reverse. The number of mavericks has dropped almost to zero, that is how the central parties engineer things.

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