‘Posher’ versus ‘poorer’ school – what’s the real difference?

(325 Posts)
stickygotstuck Mon 22-Oct-12 13:58:04

A bit long, sorry.

Please feel free to be very candid about this, I am being! I am forrin and my perception/hang ups about class/social advantage are different to DH's (or the majority of the population for that matter).

My DD will start primary school next September. So far, we have seen two state schools. Both are in our catchment, although one of them is very small and oversubscribed (we are talking 70 vs. 170-ish pupils) The larger school has a Good Ofsted, so does the small school. The larger school is in our relatively 'poor' (if you like more 'working class') village, whereas the small school is in the more affluent village next door. When I have spoken to parents asking for advice I can't shake the feeling that there is a certain snobbery towards the larger, 'poorer' school, and I am not sure that it's actually a better school.

We like both schools, but they are totally different and we can't decide our order of preference.

I guess my question is, would we be missing a trick by not pushing for the small school? Is there some sort of 'social advantage' to be gained for DD? (also could it even influence whether she gets a place in the oversubscribed local state grammar later on?). We are not the type to engage in convoluted social dilly-dallying for personal gain, but we are not so naive that we think it does not exist (we are just useless at it!) and we are aware that it's not all about numbers and academic ability.

Xenia Wed 21-Nov-12 12:09:23

I agree that aspiration makes a difference. We all know Chinese girls in the UK do better than any other group of exam results etc (and they tend to be pretty and well dressed and rarely as they obese either so that will help them too). There will be cultural issues behind whether some groups of children do well and others not.

On getting jobs - I have had 3 children graduate so far so seen how it is (in London at least). It very much depends on the career. For loads of the jobs my children applied to you start with an on line test of maths or whatever it is. You feed in your UCAS points. If you don't pass those hurdles whether you're red, white or blue posh or working class you don't get through. It is different in something like fashion or journalism where your unpaid work experience counts. The institutions whcih have paid work experience programmes in university holidays - those places you compete to get on and you are paid which means the bright working classes have more of a chance.
www.cgsh.com/careers/london/legalrecruiting/vacationschemes/ £500 a week. They will also sponsor - pay in full- your post grad qualifications.

Medicine - similar - you do the very long course etc.
However you need work experience on your CV so it is worth sixth formers trying to get some and university students if they can.

Helping your son get a job in the mine or down the shipyard is not a new thing. I was at an industrial company in the Midlands a few weeks ago and we were discussing fairness and also if those connected to the company were allowed to recommend relatives or friends for jobs. Yes, they want someone who is known and vetted by the shop floor workers or managers rather than a local lay about. On the other hand that is unfair on the local people who don't know someone who works there and you may not get the best candidate.

It is that initial experience that counts. Once you are in a job and become the best you can be and people are fighting to have you whetehr you're black white 20 stone rich or poor or without legs then it's very different and you got in because of what mummy did you dont' last long if you're useless. The trouble is that that luck in getting in int he first place is often the key. The Outliers book looked at this - of 100 people not getting into Harvard and one who does, those 100 best but near misses would all have done equally well had they got that place so if you can increase the chance of that advantage then you can do pretty well. As of course you can do pretty well living in a cave or tent in Spain or whatever your own definition of well is.

I have not said state school pupils become cleaners. I have never said that anywhere. In fact I have often said 50% of those at Oxbridge come from state schools. I don't mind debating but should not be misquoted.

APMF Thu 22-Nov-12 09:13:17

Here on MN I regularly read/hear parents go on about not pressuring DC with academics. Time enough for that when they are older. Home tutoring for 11+? Gets in the way of scouts. Besides, if they need tutoring then GS isn't right for them etc etc. AND then they complain that the education system is biased towards 'privileged' kids.

Many foreigners arrive without this attitude and many of their working class children go on to Oxbridge and jobs in law or medicine.

When will we Brits stop blaming the system and take responsibility?

CecilyP Thu 22-Nov-12 10:04:48

You must be reading a different mumsnet to me, APMF. In real life, I have never encountered so many angst ridden parents, who want to micro-manage every aspect of their child's education and think nothing of tutoring for years. Or who say, 'oh, we didn't tutor, DD just did practice papers every Saturday for 2 years.'

Perhaps I am biased, as the first thing I ever read on mumsnet was the 'pushy parent Tiffin' thread.

APMF Thu 22-Nov-12 10:27:03

This reminds me of a Woody Allen movie. He and his girlfriend are in a split screen shot. Both are with their therapist. When asked, Allen replies that they hardly have sex. Only about 3 times a week. In the split screen the GF says that they have quite a lot of sex. About 3 times a week. smile

I look at MN and I see a bunch of let children be children types. After all, we don't want our children to be liked those damned Tiger Moms now do we?

annlopes Thu 22-Nov-12 10:29:16

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

APMF Thu 22-Nov-12 10:32:54

.... mine did 2 hour papers daily during term time and 4 hours during weekends for 6 months so those every Saturday parents are slackers by my standards smile

How you raise your child is up to you but it irritates me when people bad mouth pushy parents AND then complain that the system is biased in favour of our children.

CecilyP Thu 22-Nov-12 10:40:28

As long as you don't insist your child was not tutored, then I am OK with that! I am more annoyed with schools/education departments who insist that their exams can't be tutored for, despite ample evidence to the contrary.

APMF Thu 22-Nov-12 11:16:09

To a lot of parents 'tutoring' is not a dirty word so why would I/we deny it?

A lot time ago a Brit sports commentator was asked why the Brits suck at tennis. His reply? A lot of Brits think thar trying too hard is not British. Just look at those 'pushy' Americans like McEnroe and Connors. We don't want to be like them do we?

That attitude seems to be carried over into education. Rather than complain that the coveted school places are going to the children of pushy parents, become a pushy parent yourself.

Xenia Thu 22-Nov-12 11:23:59

I think there is a British characteristic of appearing laid back and that you do no work but actually you do quite a bit or are so brilliant you get on well without too much work. That is certainly how many teenagers have traditionally been here which might explain part of this.

annl, congratulations. We found our nanny when I was pregnant with the first as I went back full time after 2 weeks and that worked out very well.

APMF Thu 22-Nov-12 11:30:43

re your comment about schools insisting that their 11+ can't be tutored for, well they are right. I mean, how often do you read posts along the line of - tutoring is a waste of time and money because X did it for 4 years and still failed to pass.

All tutoring does is it takes a bright child and get him/her use to the format, to work faster and be less prone to error. That is all it is.

CecilyP Thu 22-Nov-12 11:33:55

To a lot of parents 'tutoring' is not a dirty word so why would I/we deny it?
No-one denies it exactly; just a lot of mumsnetters don't think it is tutoring unlesss they paid a tutor to deliver the tuition.

CecilyP Thu 22-Nov-12 11:41:59

I mean, how often do you read posts along the line of - tutoring is a waste of time and money because X did it for 4 years and still failed to pass.

I don't think I have read such a post on mumsnet. Posters either ask for information about tutors, or say what tutoring they did or didn't do for their child to have got in to selective schools. I have often wondered what happened to the children of enquirers who don't, subsequently, return.

APMF Thu 22-Nov-12 11:53:22

You are right. We are on different versions of MN smile

There has been no recent tutoring bun fights. Feel free to start up a thread. Sit back, have a cuppa and then tell me that the views that I've summarised don't exist on MN.

rabbitstew Thu 22-Nov-12 13:59:55

I agree with CecilyP - parents who deny it completely are often viewing "tutoring" as only one type of thing... Like the problems I always had understanding the supposed milestones for child development and when to worry about your child's development... so far as I was concerned, my children couldn't really "talk" until rather late, but other mothers had FAR lower standards of comprehensibility grin. People often think they disagree profoundly on something when it turns out they just interpret the words they are using differently...

stickygotstuck Thu 22-Nov-12 18:05:52

rabbitstew: people often think they disagree profoundly on something when it turns out they just interpret the words they are using differently...

So true!

Xenia, I think that's exactly it - it boils down to hypocrisy, if you'd pardon my interpretation. Many people say they don't try hard but they do.

So here I am with my DD's school's dilemma. Not a pushy parent, relatively aspirational, dosn't know people in high places and am quite picky in my interactions with people. There is no hope, is there?

Xenia Thu 22-Nov-12 18:19:20

There is loads of hope.
If you cannot get a job which will pay school fees pick the best of the two schools and work from there.
If she talks with a rough accent get her elocution lessons. If when she's 16 she doesn't know what to wear for interviews at particular potential employers/internships help her. There is a code she may not learn at some schools b ut might pick up from some families or even by herself if she's perceptive which may help her in due course.

Do lots at home. See what private school parents do - eg 2 music instruments practise each day take exams etc etc

stickygotstuck Thu 22-Nov-12 22:04:03

xenia that's exactly the difficulty - the 'rougher' school is the slightly better school, both for results and installations.
All schools here are smaller than average, with fewer children with special needs, and fewer free school meals. And yet, when I mention I rather like the 'poor' school I am met with disbelief - from people whose kids go elsewhere.

I'm finding it hard to understand if is is just snobbery and prejudice or if there is something in it.

On a separate note, your comment re. the 'rough' accent made me smile because it is such an alien concept for me: accent is a geographical thing, no bearing on education or anything else. We are up North anyway!

APMF Fri 23-Nov-12 09:18:45

When I book a holiday hotel I pay a premium for it being in a nice area. Does that make me a snob/prejudiced against poor people? If it does then a lot of holidaymakers are snobs.

Going a bit off topic but in variously past threads MNetters go on about how they didn't choose a 'posh' school because of the parents/children to be found at these kind of schools. Why are you so surprised that some 'posh' parents feel the same way about 'poor' schools?

Xenia Fri 23-Nov-12 09:38:00

If I were picking a state primary I would be looking at where the children go after as loads of 11 year olds want to stay with their friends. If they mostly go on to a good secondary after that then that's fine. If the ones from the not so posh state school tend to go to worse schools after then the posher one might in fact be better. Also

I am from the North and always had received pronunciation as do many people in the North although perhaps jut those in private schools, without or virtually no accent.

On holidays some people choose not to take a holiday but to travel (another snobbery issue) and they want to go somewhere with very very poor local people and "authenticity" perhaps doing an environmental project whilst they are there and few facilities which I suspect is in a sense the typical "in" posh holiday actually which shows how perverse the whole thing is.

rabbitstew Fri 23-Nov-12 09:38:41

APMF - maybe she's surprised because she focuses on educational attainment at the schools, not local opinion of their "poshness"??

As for holiday hotels - how do you know somewhere is a "nice area?" Advertisements normally describe areas as "lively" (which might well be appealing whatever your social class if you like nightclubbing...); "family orientated" (which you might well HATE if you didn't have kids, however "nice"); "quiet" (which you might like if you were retired and didn't have kids, but might hate if you did have kids and found conglomerations of elderly people tiresome), etc, etc... Don't you mean you like your hotels to be in an expensive area? - something that most holidaymakers don't particularly consider, because they can't afford "expensive." In other words, maybe it's the same people being "snobby" about holidays who are snobby about schools, not a wider group of people at all.

rabbitstew Fri 23-Nov-12 09:40:41

I also agree with Xenia on holidays - lots of "posh" people like to "slum it" on holiday and backpack around places bearing no resemblance to their life at home.

Xenia Fri 23-Nov-12 09:47:14

One example of that being my going last year to my own island alone to camp (it's pretty primitive but beautiful) to pick litter. I was very amused by that - going abroad to collect litter... laughing. I removed every bit of plastic which had ever come on to the island for 50 years. Another friend took 2 months off last year to work teaching in a orphanage abroad. And then you get all the certain type of student going on about their gap year or university holiday. My daughter's amusing descriptions of 24 hour bus journeys in central America where short Inca women would dump a gorgeous local baby on her lap for 4 hours etc

APMF Fri 23-Nov-12 10:15:04

@Xenia - That settles it then. I don't like slumming it whilst on holiday so that means I'm not posh or a snob smile

I work with a lot of 'posh' people and it seems to be a badge of honour for some of them. A couple of times a year they leave behind their Chelsea/South Ken homes, travel to some Third World the- poorer-the-better country and then bore us with their stories about connecting with the locals upon their return.

@rabbit - expensive does not necessarily equal snobby. Paying £500 a night for a box like room in Knightsbridge is 'snobby'. Paying £200 for West End hotel next to theatres and affordable restaurants, as opposed to £50 Travel Dodge in Peckham, isn't.

Bottom line - I grew up in a poor part of the UK. I went to a 'poor' school. Ok, it wasn't that bad compared to what reads about some inner city schools but even so, I would not be prepared, where my DCs are concerned, that this school would be any different.

rabbitstew Fri 23-Nov-12 13:50:22

You sound as though you think your childhood was pretty crappy, APMF. sad

APMF Fri 23-Nov-12 18:58:08

Not crap. Just not fantastic. I liked chess, aspired to go to university. My dad ran a shop as opposed to working at the local steel works. That made us 'snobs'. Yup, life was good.

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