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

(1000 Posts)
happygardening Sun 06-Jan-13 13:22:36

Thought I repost the OP although the debate has moved on a little smile .
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>.

rabbitstew Wed 09-Jan-13 19:03:43

How very greedy!

seeker Wed 09-Jan-13 19:27:40

9x7 was always my downfall.

rabbitstew Wed 09-Jan-13 20:00:16

7x9 has a better rhythm...

rabbitstew Wed 09-Jan-13 20:03:56

SE-ven NINES - so much better than nine SE-vens or NINE SE-vens.

happygardening Wed 09-Jan-13 20:04:41

Tas do many UK student study in German universities and those that do how do they get on?

Tasmania Wed 09-Jan-13 20:54:52

happy Main problem is usually the language, so not many British kids go. HOWEVER, the relatively low tuition fees (from virtually nothing to a few hundred euros per semester) may change this in future. If the student speaks German fluently, they should be fine, and plenty of German high school kids spend a year at a U.S. High School (or Canada/Australia/NZ...) anyway so they will find enough internationally-minded friends.

Just like here in the UK, some are better than others. Some are probably more appropriate for international students, too (do not send DC into the German hinterland where even your average German would rather not send their kids to!). Preferably you'd pick a university that operates under the (for Germany relatively newish) Bachelor/Masters system as the traditional one they used to all have about a decade or so was... quite different.

Tasmania Wed 09-Jan-13 21:10:24

^^ By the way, unlike in the UK, the one German university deemed as seriously "posh" is relatively new. One of the reasons for its popularity is its modern facilities and rather picturesque setting. But it tends to attract kids from very well-to-do families who are more at home in loafers, polo shirts, Barbour and Burberry than trainers and t-shirts. Even the media perpetuates that image...

marfisa Thu 10-Jan-13 00:21:11

Sorry to be chiming in late again and backtracking a bit (don't want to derail the interesting stuff about French and German education!).

Thanks for those stats, Tasmania - quite illuminating. I agree that aiming for 93% of state school students at Oxbridge is unrealistic. However, I'm intrigued by the stat showing that 10% of state school pupils get A-level marks high enough to apply for Oxbridge. I wonder how many of those pupils don't apply because they think they won't get in, or because they think that the Oxbridge atmosphere is rarefied and stuffy and that they would be miserable if they did get in? Those are the people I would like to see apply.

Seeker, your point about how grammar schools make up a large part of Oxbridge's "state school" percentages is also well-taken. All I can say is, Oxbridge tutors are very aware of that fact. (God, the admissions meetings where everyone sits around talking endlessly and making loads of the same points that people have made on this thread! grin) There is no easy solution, but as I said, the UCAS forms do flag up candidates from schools that don't regularly send pupils on to university. And we really do look at this stuff.

There is still plenty of social injustice in the way that Oxbridge operates, I'm sure, but the social inequalities start to affect young people from the time they're tiny tots (as a few people on this thread have pointed out). Take my DC; they are in a state primary, one that quite recently came out of special measures, but they already have plenty of what one poster (was it creamteas?) called cultural capital. Stacks of books in the house, museum visits and music lessons and blah blah blah. Basically, no matter what school they go to, they're already swimming in privilege.

If a higher percentage of pupils at independent schools do better than their state school counterparts, it's not because the teaching there is necessarily any better (though I'm sure the smaller class sizes do make a difference); it's because the families who send their DC to independent schools overwhelmingly have plenty of cultural capital to begin with. And some schools go even further, targeting the elite of the elite: the most prestigious public schools where I live actually kick out the pupils who aren't performing well enough in exams: they don't want their precious national rankings to drop. Compare that to a school where a substantial proportion of the pupils are children of first-generation immigrants, or quite simply children of parents who are struggling to put food on the table. OF COURSE the exam results of that school is going to be less stellar. It doesn't mean that the teachers there aren't fantastic, or that the brightest kids there aren't as good as the brightest kids from the independents.

I wish we could find ways to spread the cultural capital around more. Actually, what I wish is that independent schools and grammar schools would be abolished, but that seems a little unlikely at this point. grin So in the meantime, small steps.

marfisa Thu 10-Jan-13 00:23:32

are going to be less stellar. Can't write proper English now!

MordionAgenos Thu 10-Jan-13 06:20:08

Sorry, I don't accept at all that being the child of a first generation immigrant means that 'of course' your results are going to be less stellar. Some have stellar results, some have average, some have poor. But it's unconnected to their second gen immigrant status per se.

Mominatrix Thu 10-Jan-13 06:24:21

I always found the 9s very easy to learn as they have a very elegant pattern. The trickiest one was the 7s as they always seemed like an outlier.

Marfisa, why abolish grammars and independents - don't think this will really affect the school system in the way you desire. Better to just take all children away from their parents at birth and randomly assign them to other parents, then give them back to their original parents at the age of 11.

Chandon Thu 10-Jan-13 07:29:43

Marfisa, I was with you up until the mentions of immigrants and bread on the table (ie poverty).

Firstly, immigrants are all very different, and IMO, immigrants from some countries ( china, India) get their kids in the top sets, or private or grammar school very effectively. Our private school has loads more immigrants ( mind you, these are educated immigrants) than our local all white British state school.

The problem is not poverty either, or not always. The problem families are the ones where education is not valued, and where the parents do not even trust education.

I have seen wealthy people with this attitude ( the much maligned footballers and their footballers wives) for example, though many of thse will send their kids to a high status private school. Still.

happygardening Thu 10-Jan-13 07:33:48

"that 10% of state school pupils get A-level marks high enough to apply for Oxbridge."
A friends son went to a state school and got thre A's (before the A* was introduced) but did this by resitting parts of his AS papers. This meant that he could not apply to Oxbridge or IC to read physics and was unlikely to get a place at Bristol but for example it was fine for Exeter. I understand this resitting AS levels to improve grades is a common occurrance in the both the state and indepednet sector although I think I read somewhere that there are changes afoot. The stats given above therefore may not tell the whole story.

happygardening Thu 10-Jan-13 07:37:47

Actually, what I wish is that independent schools and grammar schools would be abolished,"
Can you explain to me how this will help those who are stuggling to put food on the table.

Chandon Thu 10-Jan-13 07:43:52

And why abolish the successful schools ( grammars and private)?!

Yes that would create a more level playing field, one where NOBODY gets a great education. That would benefit....nobody. But at least it is "fair". That great lowest common denominator.

Maybe lower all the standards so everyone can get 5 a- stars, that would be only fair. Real constructive Labour thinking. Oh wait, they were actually trying that.

Only that what really should be aimed for, imo, is for state schools to improve. There is lots of room for improvement. The problem does not lie with the pupils, many could do better than they are doing. The problem does not lie with the teachers, they do what they can. The problem is that for so many years, the sector has not received enough support and money. Being a teacher is not well paid comared to being a GP or an accountant ( only 50 years ago their salaries and status were comparable), the classes are too big ( it has hard to teach groups bigger than 24 effectively), there is too much faffing with box ticking ( have only worked as a TA for a year, but boy was it an eye opener)

The tories are just as bad for education as labour. So many tories send their kids private, they do not care what happens to the rest. And labour just tinkers with results and box ticking, as long as more kids get As, they do not care if every generation is a bit less well educated.

It is depressing really. I almost feel " forced" into private education, and wish it was a financially viable option for everyone. Small classes and higher expectations would benefit lots of kids.

Yellowtip Thu 10-Jan-13 08:02:27

marfisa what are the precise nature of your reservations in admitting grammar school pupils, provided they indicate the ability and potential that the university requires? Or are you merely observing that there are a lot of them within the state school stats? You'd expect that though surely? And wouldn't you also expect the grammars to be represented roughly in proportion to the academic selectivity of their intake, in the way the top independents are? Given that grammars are no better funded than comps although far, far less well funded than independents, I'm not convinced there's a great case for discrimination there. Obviously I'm aware of the bastions of social exclusion argument (which is credible if one forms one's opinions from MNsmile) but that's not how it is on the ground. Any more than the make up of the student body at Oxford is actually all thick posh twits beagling off across meadows. There's a strong argument for saying that the top leafy comps are more exclusive socially and on a less academically meritorious basis
in any event.

I happen to be a second generation (white European) immigrant where initially money was tight (as in all possessions fitted in a suitcase, then the suitcase was sold for funds). But education was seen as essential, without which the family would have gone to the wall. One size doesn't fit all on the immigrant front.

seeker Thu 10-Jan-13 09:04:41

Family poverty is the single most reliable indicator of educational under achievement. Obviously that doesn't mean that all poor kids underachieve- any more than it means all well off kids achieve their potential. But the fact remains- poor/disadvantaged kids do worse. And, unless we believe that they are intrinsically less bright- which we don't, do we?- something needs to be done to change that.

marfisa Thu 10-Jan-13 09:52:49

Oh dear, you're right, I phrased some things much too carelessly. Not all children of first-generation immigrants are disadvantaged. I was thinking about some of my DS' friends who are the children of Bangladeshi immigrants. The kids are incredibly bright and doing well at school, but their parents were from peasant families in Bangladesh and left school themselves at age 12 or so. And while the parents are lovely, they don't see education as a value (unlike, say, the parents of yellowtip). So although the kids have the enriching experience of growing up with two languages, of course their English vocab is not going to be expanding at the same pace as the English vocab of kids who start out with lots of cultural capital. This doesn't mean that they're not Oxbridge material; it just means that exam results at this point in their lives may not reflect their full potential.

Sorry if I have offended anyone. I totally agree with seeker's last comment.

Also, I never meant to indicate that I would discriminate AGAINST grammar school candidates or independent school candidates. Lots of them are wonderful and have done wonderful things with the opportunities afforded them by their selective schools, and I am very happy to have the privilege of teaching them now. What I meant was that when trying to discern a candidate's potential, we (admissions tutors) are supposed to take all the different elements of someone's background into account as best as we can. And if an application has all sorts of contextual flags in it indicating various kinds of social deprivation, we will take that into account when making an admissions decision.

Should probably stop commenting now in case I am just digging myself into more holes!

I was partly being provocative (rather than deadly earnest) by saying we should abolish all selective schools. And no, of course social inequality would not disappear even if that happened. I just think that when a lot of the more privileged children are "creamed off" and sent to selective schools rather than state ones, that reinforces social inequality. These are of course my personal opinions and not by any means those of all Oxbridge tutors!

I dislike dogmas. So I'm not even entirely against selective schools, given that they already exist and are not going to disappear any time soon. I know parents who have moved their DC from state to private for what I consider very valid reasons. Different children are different. I am lucky enough to be very happy with my DC's school, but if I ever felt that my DC were deeply unhappy at school, or being shortchanged educationally, I would probably move heaven and earth to get them a better education in any way I could manage.

Bonsoir Thu 10-Jan-13 09:58:22

Compare that to a school where a substantial proportion of the pupils are children of first-generation immigrants... OF COURSE the exam results of that school is going to be less stellar.

marfisa - that is discrimination/prejudice. There is absolutely nothing about being first-generation immigrant per se that makes a child less likely to perform to the very highest standards at school.

marfisa Thu 10-Jan-13 09:58:45

I also totally agree with what chandon said about how what we really need to do is improve state schools by giving them more money and resources. And instead, the government keeps cutting funds. sad

marfisa Thu 10-Jan-13 10:00:08

I know, Bonsoir, I take it back, I take it back! It was a particularly stupid thing to say in my city, where a ton of the first-generation immigrants are highly educated academics and professionals.

As Buffy would say, my bad.

happygardening Thu 10-Jan-13 10:00:16

"Family poverty is the single most reliable indicator of educational under achievement.......something needs to be done to change that"
Absolutely right but abolishing independent schools or for that matter grammar schools is not going to make an iota of difference to those living below the poverty line.
We've lost our CB frankly at the end of the day it's not going to make a difference to our life style but rather than the government putting it in their pockets and spending it on more pointless unwinable wars why not give it to those families in the bottom 15% or even better the bottom 7% because I'm pretty sure it will make an enormous difference to their lives.

Bonsoir Thu 10-Jan-13 10:04:10

smile OK.

As one of those first-generation immigrants myself (English in France), I get fantastically annoyed at the stupidity of teachers who bang on about bilingual children (English-French bilingual children!) being bound to perform less well in school than a monolingual child, and then the teachers themselves ensure it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even when the parents are highly educated this battle is fought over and over again. What chance for less educated families?

marfisa Thu 10-Jan-13 10:07:00

What I was thinking was, new pupils join my DS's class regularly who don't yet speak any English. It's going to take awhile for them to catch up, just as it would take my own DC awhile to catch up if I suddenly plonked him down into a new school in, say, France. That doesn't mean the pupils aren't bright or the teaching isn't good.

In one school a mile away from where I live, 80% of the pupils come from non-native English speaking families. And yes, their exam results look different from the exam results of the oh-so-desirable state primary whose catchment area includes the mansions of leafy north Oxford.

Yeah, I'm in Oxford. I should actually go get some work done now!

Chandon Thu 10-Jan-13 10:07:59

I did not take offence, Marfisa. I am an immigrant myself, I came to the UK with no reason to doubt the state system, no hang ups about class and toffs and whathaveyou.

After 3 years in an "outstanding" state school, I wanted to move my children to a school with more SEN support, smaller classes and higher expectations. A small private school nearby offered all that.

It is funny though, that in MN discussions people would assume I am some Tory Brit grin. There are lots of immigrants who actually think their state school is not up to scratch, and, maybe, not quite what they expected from a country like the UK with its amazing cultural heritage.

As an anglophile, I felt quite sad about this.

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