If you can afford private education but remain in the state sector...

(1000 Posts)
TheseJeansHaveShrunk Sun 30-Dec-12 08:59:01

It's going to be hard to avoid this becoming another state v private thread, but what I'm interested in is a slightly different take on that debate. It's not "which is better?" but "if you think state school is better even though you could afford private education, then why is that?"

The question is based on the assumptions that the DC in question is/are reasonably bright (so might benefit academically from academically selective education), that the state school is non-selective (as most people don't have access to grammar schools), and that you hope for your DC to go to a good university (to make the £££££ fees worthwhile!)

I've been mulling this over ever since I heard some maths professor from Cambridge talking on the radio about the age-old private v state inequality of Oxbridge admissions. He was all for improving access for state school applicants but said that the simple fact was that for maths, even the best state schools generally teach only to the A-level syllabus, whereas the best private schools take their maths/further maths A-level candidates well beyond the syllabus and so the state school applicants are at a huge disadvantage - they simply don't have the starting level of knowledge required for the course.

This made me wonder: with this sort of unequal playing field, if you have the choice of private education, what reasons might you have not to take it?

Would be interested to hear from those who've made this choice - how it's working out, or if your DC have finished school now, how did it work out? Did they go to good universities/get good jobs, etc? On the other side of things, if you paid for private schooling but now regret it, why?

My DC go to a state school by the way.

<Dons hard hat>.

Yellowtip Sun 06-Jan-13 10:15:44

But five you're imputing a position to me which isn't mine. And the fact that I may have DC at the university in question doesn't mean I therefore ignore published data - I'm making separate points entirely. Of course there are issues, but they aren't the shallow ones that you're shouting about.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 10:17:30

'And attitudes like yours do more than anything to deter'

What the Hell does that mean?

Should I, instead, do what other posters do on this thread and pretend that all is hunkydory, ignoring what is evident in Oxbridge's own admissions data?

Being aware that there is a problem is the first step to overcoming it. Burying your head in the sand and pretending there isn't an issue is not going to make it go away.

Yellowtip Sun 06-Jan-13 10:21:42

five the average A level score for Oxford and Cambridge undergraduates is perhaps five times as high as 'the average for universities in Britain'. As Mordion says, figures can easily beguile.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 10:24:09

'But for most of a term the gown moulders in the back of a cupboard getting grubby.'

Which does beg the question of why the Hell bother then?

'It's a tiny, tiny deal.'

For YOU. I evidently need to spell out to you that your experience is not the same as everybody else's and you cannot judge what is and is not going to be a big deal to other people.

I have taught real, kids who have felt that such antiquated symbols are very offputting. They say nothing to them about their lives except 'This isn't the sort of place you'd fit in'. This is also what Ithaca says and others on this thread.

Even today, with all my years of experience and confidence, I find academic gowns intimidating and offputting. This is partly why they continue to be worn - they divide and exclude. It doesn't take much empathy to think about the impact such images and realities have on a working class kid who is thinking about university application and may face many, many barriers. But that what seems to be lackign here - empathy and a consideration for others.

seeker Sun 06-Jan-13 10:24:57

What does"perhaps 5 times as high"mean?

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 10:26:22

'But five you're imputing a position to me which isn't mine'

Yellow, some of my points are addressed to Mordion who has explicitly said that she is going to ignore any data.

happygardening Sun 06-Jan-13 10:40:32

Five it seems to me that you are becoming increasingly aggressive about this and most weirdly attacking those who actually take a similar position to you. I don't deny the published research or in fact am surprised that 5 schools send so many but what you and other who feels like you need to ask is why? What is it that they are doing and most importantly can it be replicated on the state sector.
I was also labouring under the impression maybe erroneously that both Oxford and Cambridge and other are trying to widen their access and I have heard admittedly anecdotal comment from various teachers at schools who regularly send a high% to Oxbridge including a couple in that top 5 that they are no longer so sure what they are looking for (although I accept this is not reflected in their results) and that the "seriously gifted" are being refused places and the "less talented/able" are being offered places hence IMO one reason why these schools are also looking more to the US and others.

Yellowtip Sun 06-Jan-13 10:41:13

seeker to come out with figures such as 89% mc as opposed to a national average of 66% mc is as pointless a comparison as saying that the grades of Oxford students are that much better than the national average. In fact, since grades so closely corrrelate with middle classness, on the face of it those figures suggest that access-wise Oxford is doing quite well.

Yellowtip Sun 06-Jan-13 10:44:25

I'm also curious as to why you're so aggressive on this particular issue seeker? The English student population at St. Andrews is surely even now still far more rah? And wear gowns.

seeker Sun 06-Jan-13 10:55:33

I don't think I have been aggressive, have I? And I haven't actually quoted any stats at all.

I just wanted to know what "perhaps 5 times as high" meant. Which seems to me to be a reasonable question!

And yes, certainly in my time St Andrews was very "yah" (not rah!) if you looked at the English students, and I have no reason to suppose it's different now.

happygardening Sun 06-Jan-13 10:58:48

"I find academic gowns intimidating and off putting"
Five have you ever wondered whether you would benefit from some sort of therapy I can recommend some excellent CB therapists who i am sure would help you over come this rather bizarre fear!
I myself am not keen on gowns etc but I my problem stems from an intense loathing of meaningless ritual.

happygardening Sun 06-Jan-13 11:02:19

"perhaps 5 times as high"
seeker Im not going to troll back though all the posting where was this said and in what context?

seeker Sun 06-Jan-13 11:05:13

However,nit is undeniable that there are plenty of people who base their views of Oxbridge on depictions on the TV and think "not for the likes of us". It is that image which needs to be challenged- among other things.

Any explanation of "perhaps 5 times as high" yet?

happygardening Sun 06-Jan-13 11:05:30

By the way everyone watch out ronaldo is about perhaps Xenia will also start posting her rather irritating comments on women and work!! Enough to make me run for the hills.
it would be such a shame to spoil an fun debate with their comments.

happygardening Sun 06-Jan-13 11:06:31

Where an who said it seeker?

happygardening Sun 06-Jan-13 11:09:16

"However,nit is undeniable that there are plenty of people who base their views of Oxbridge on depictions on the TV and think "not for the likes of us". It is that image which needs to be challenged- among other things."
The fact that these views exists is not the fault of the top five schools who send so many. Maybe the likes of five instead of being quite so chippy about them you need to look at what you as a teacher can do for the children you are involved with.

Ronaldo Sun 06-Jan-13 11:10:13

happygardening - that is an unfair and rather rude and ungracious comment from you ( maybe you should reconsider how you present yourself on MN?) . I have no intention of taking part in this thread and have watched it through Christmas btw.

To post about me on a thread to which I have not contributed is bad form and smacks also of back biting and bullying. Maybe rather than watching out for me, posters should watch out for you?

I wish you well in the hills as you run there.

Yellowtip Sun 06-Jan-13 11:14:08

five I meant to pick you up on your William point. He won't run the country ever, in the tiniest way, even if he inherits his father's propensity for attempting to meddle. He has no power constitutionally. He's even more irrelevant than subfusc, and less decorative.

Although of course the monarchy will very probably collapse before the half century is out in great part I hope on the back of the fact that the whole lot of them appear to be dimmer than the dimmest of dimwits.

happygardening Sun 06-Jan-13 11:14:12

Sorry ronaldo.

happygardening Sun 06-Jan-13 11:25:09

By the way re the wearing of subfusc my nephew at Oxford was explain to us that he had to wear it every evening whilst dinning in halls my DS listening i could see was appalled and thus even more determined to go abroad five he does not fit your image of a working class kid thinking about future universities. I think you will find that a significant minority who've come through the independent sector and have at various times in their lives experienced "meaningless ritual" and tradition first hand feel that moving to university is a chance to move away from it.

creamteas Sun 06-Jan-13 11:25:35

I have a PhD in social sciences and I work in an HE with admissions so I know exactly how the HESA data is gathered. It is not perfect (no data ever is), but it has consistently shown that Oxford and Cambridge are not as diverse in relation to social class as other top universities. Even Oxford and Cambridge admit this openly, so why anyone would try to deny it really defeats me.

All universities have to take steps to widen participation (not to do so would mean that you would have to become a private university) but so far they have made less progress than many other 'top' universities. The reasons for this are endlessly debated, but lots of the evidence shows that children from poorer backgrounds are at a disadvantage during the interview. Again this is accepted by Oxford and Cambridge who have tried (but so far failed) to make the interviews fairer.

The origins of this thread was talking about private schooling. Many (not all) people send their kids to private school as they want them to attend a 'top' university. This is using their position to try to gain the same advantages for their children. Some people believe that this is acceptable, others do not. But surely no one can really deny that it is about privilege.

happygardening Sun 06-Jan-13 11:26:03

Has to wear it not had to wear it.

happygardening Sun 06-Jan-13 11:27:15

creamteas why are they disadvantaged during the interview?

creamteas Sun 06-Jan-13 11:43:53

Happy It is complicated, but much is due to their 'habitus' (the way of being in the world) so the way that they conduct themselves in the interviews (not their intellectual ability) is different to that of the interviewer. This difference marks them as not really a 'fit' for Oxbridge.

Yellowtip Sun 06-Jan-13 11:57:26

happy your DS could always opt for one of the more usual colleges which doesn't have formal hall every night. or opt not to eat formally every night. He won't escape tradition by going to the US: they love it even more than we do smile (yes, I've lived there and know it)

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