Why is private education so taboo now?

(587 Posts)
DoMyBest Fri 11-Apr-14 06:24:55

When I was younger I was privately educated as were most of my friends. Now we all have children and almost all of them have decided to send their children to state schools. Whilst for most of them it was a question of money, for others it really wasn't: they believe that every child should have the same educational opportunities and if parents like them start giving their kids exclusive treatment then the system won't work. Some of these parents chose local 'outstanding' state schools, but one couple with enough money to buy every private school in town admirably chose their worst local state school and work hard to improve it.

I listen to these stories with interest, sometimes admiration but mostly respect for their choices & views.

So it's with some alarm, now we have chosen a private school for our son, do discover the hatred this decision engenders. Private education has, it would seem, become taboo.

So here's my question: is it morally right for people to get angry with parents who privately educate their children?

Martorana Fri 11-Apr-14 08:31:06

"It therefore attracts a lot of working parents,"

As opposed to state schools which attract a lot of [] parents?grin

mummytime Fri 11-Apr-14 08:31:32

Its not at all taboo around here! My children all have lots of friends at private schools, all schools mix quite widely.
However it does cost a lot more than it used to. So quite a lot of people in normal professions who could have afforded it (Doctors - including surgeons, Bank Managers etc.) cannot afford the fees. They were rising at at least 5% per year in the not too distant past. I often wonder how people manage to pay the fees.

wordfactory Fri 11-Apr-14 08:34:46

mummytime it is a lot more expensive (relative to income) than it used to be...

This means much of the traditional middle class can no longer afford it. In much the same way that they cannot afford much of the life style that they grew up with.

goshhhhhh Fri 11-Apr-14 08:46:42

We chose an outstanding state school vfor our Dd (which does better both pastorally & results wise than the private - so a no brainer really) & distinctly remember the conversation with one mum last summer, who was distinctly snooty about our choice of a state school. I think it goes both ways & we have some people being iffy because we didn't choose the local school. I think some people will always disagree with your choice as human beings have this need to compare to either feel superior or feel lesser. It seems to me that people do judge or be judged.

boomoohoo Fri 11-Apr-14 08:48:00

In answer to your question op, because england has a long standing and uncomfortable history of class division. Less so now, though private school is one of the ways it continued to exist. If private schools didn't exist, state schools would be better.

I don't agree with private schools ideologically. A good friend has a child at private school. She knows how I feel about it, (she asked my opinion I might add) but I equally understand her reasons.

CMOTDibbler Fri 11-Apr-14 08:52:43

I should have said 'children with two ft working parents'.

Neither is reflective of population as a whole, but your school can only ever be reflective of the catchment - and unless every school was forced (and parents were forced to send their children) to select an intake according to disposable income/gross income, ethnicity, disability/additional needs, religion mix, then thats never going to happen is it.

MrsC1966 Fri 11-Apr-14 08:55:07

No, of course, not morally right but perhaps you need to think about why they feel this way. My (privately educated) parents decided to state educate me despite being able to afford private and their friends chosing the private route for their kids. My father had socialist parents and he strongly believed that we had the same opportunity that those in the private sector had. I would love to say that he was right but he wasn't - failing the 11+ and going to a run down state secondary modern was my undoing! For those who can't afford it, I'm guessing their anger is generated by jelousy. For those who can afford it but chose not to privately educate them, then perhaps they have the same idealist views that my father had. Saying that however, there are some amazing high performing state schools around that take away the need for the private option. Show some kindness to those who direct their anger towards you - they have issues that they need to work through about their own choices.

middleclassonbuesary Fri 11-Apr-14 09:07:45

98% of our friends/acquaintances have or are educating their children privately, over 70% will be at boarding schools. At work only a large handful educate their children privately, very rarely at boarding schools, here I encounter more hostility especially to boarding because of the exorbitant cost and many are hostile to the idea of boarding in general. People interestingly become very much less hostile if I say we receive a bursary, I think people often don't like it if they think you've got a spare £34 000 pa that you can spend on school fees. Money doesn't bring out peoples better sides IME.

Slightly off topic, but I wonder how much real difference any parents can make to a failing school, no matter how rich and idealistic they are or how hard they work. Of course they can support their own DCs, they can become governors but that isn't really about the day to day running of the school, so what is it that they are going to do to improve the school?

middleclassonbuesary Fri 11-Apr-14 09:10:19

boom this is a genuine question why would state school be better if private schools didn't exist?

Nocomet Fri 11-Apr-14 09:17:11

I have a circle of friends where some of us have DCs at state, some at private and one with DDs at both.

It isn't always a recipe for total harmony as everyone feels they have made the right choice (or are jealous they don't have rich grandparents).

It's very hard to sympathise with someone being broke, when there are 3 very good state secondaries they could have sent their DCs to.

I guess it's the lack of imagination and lack of the courage to step out from the world they knew as children.

But as other posters have said private education used to be cheaper. Both my DM and my DSIL went to the sort of little private girls schools which have now closed or amalgamated into far more professional and expensive establishments.

Also both DM, DSIL and one of my privately educating DFs went to private school, in part because the boys grammars were far better than the girls. A reason that no longer exists.

alemci Fri 11-Apr-14 09:36:08

yes I agree about the cost, I was privately educated as was my db and the fees were reasonable I've been told by my parents.

Mine go/went to a very good state school which is not immediately where I live but my dd got in on music ability selection which was one of the criteria. Alot of the parents live in the area surrounding which is very affluent but some dc travel a distance.

I've had the odd dig over the years' usually from disgruntled parents who couldn't get their dc into the school.

Take no notice of others. Do what you feel is right.

wordfactory Fri 11-Apr-14 09:40:41

The way I see it, my shoulders are broad, so I can take it if people want to get sniffy grin. I never ever argue back.
Whatever comment they make my answer is 'yes, I'm sure you're right.'

But I draw the line at adults making comments at my children! That is unacceptable and I will step in.

Mintyy Fri 11-Apr-14 09:45:30

I am one of those who is just deeply uncomfortable about private education. I am not jealous or bitter or anything like that and I have good friends who educate their children privately (but we skirt round the subject). I happen to think that comprehensive education is better for children, I hate the privileged bubble referred to above.

Martorana Fri 11-Apr-14 09:47:51

"I should have said 'children with two ft working parents'"

As opposed to state schools which attract [..] parents?

Martorana Fri 11-Apr-14 09:48:46

<hands round state/private bingo cards>
<licks lucky dabber>

wordfactory Fri 11-Apr-14 09:50:59

mintyy I am sure many of us are deeply uncomfortable about a lot of things...but good manners prevents us harranging people about it!

boomoohoo Fri 11-Apr-14 09:57:43

Middleclass - because they'd have to be, to deal with the demands of wealthier parents who have higher expectations of their children than less well off parents.

I.e. expectations of privately educated children are to get professional well paid jobs. Doctors /lawyers at the least. Aspirations of working class are lower as opportunities (for good education etc) are less.

happygardening Fri 11-Apr-14 10:02:47

"I hate the privileged bubble referred to above"
Many children at state schools live in a privileged bubble we don't all live in cities with all the advantages but disadvantages too. Here in Smalltownsville only 1% at our "outstanding academy" are on FSM, 2% are not white, there are more Range Rovers in the car park at parents evenings than there are in the car park at my DS2's school. But this is a reflection of the area as a whole. This is the stamping ground of the affluent, the wealthy rural middle classes, many here seem to either choose state education or big name boarding schools, small unknown independent days schools are really struggling to fill their vacancies. Our head at the "outstanding academy" prides himself on the fact that's he's modelled much of what he's done on independent ed. He feels he's a viable alternative not to Eton et al but your average run if the mill independent. He's very aware of parental expectations.

Martorana Fri 11-Apr-14 10:03:02

"demands of wealthier parents who have higher expectations of their children than less well off parents."

Ooh, that's a new one!

<hastily prints new bingo cards>

tiggytape Fri 11-Apr-14 10:03:09

It isn't taboo where I live.

Lots of people dip in and out of private school over the years.
Lots especially start off in private schools because it is virtually the only way to get wrap around care. A lot of the primary schools don't even have a breakfast club let alone after school care.

Lots of parents have one child at state and one child at private which seems to cause outrage on MN but is considered perfectly normal in an area where one child can get allocated a great state school but the other one might not (single sex, selective and lottery schools all in the surrounding areas)

Nobody seems to think private fantastically is better. In fact there tend to be state schools that lots of people want and the private school is often their back-up if it doesn't work out.

When I talk to parents at my DC's (state) school, lots of them either used private schools for a short time when the children were little or have other children in a private school or are considering a private school for 6th form.

middleclassonbursary Fri 11-Apr-14 10:13:29

But boom do we not need the top independent schools to set the bench mark, just like we need top athletes, top musicians etc? I know that top independent schools offer so much more because they have so much more money but is it all about money?
Friends send their DC's to a well know but not overly selective boarding/day school in a well know city, The local comp yr on yr is catching up with their results, and also increasingly emulating many of the things offered at this school in particular sporting opportunities, they are often competing for the same day children especially for the 6th form where many jump camp from one to the other, this has in turn made the independent school pull it's socks up, it's trying to improve it's results, getting even better coaches in for sport etc the comp is now doing the same, so perhaps both need each other.
Is life as black and white as you seem to think it is?

wordfactory Fri 11-Apr-14 10:14:24

Oh come on martorana you know full well that the expectations/aspirations are different in different wealth groups.

I am absolutely certain this is an issue between your DS and your DD's schools.

One of the biggest issues that we have to try to address in the widening access prog for Oxbridge is to try to get people from certain backgrounds to even consider us!

Oubliette0292 Fri 11-Apr-14 10:19:35

I sent the DC to their local lower school. However, when it came to middle school I sent DD private (DS will also go private from September). I feel very privileged to be able to make this choice - most of the parents I know cannot afford to do this. They are generally educated middle class professionals (teachers, lecturers, scientists) who would have been able to afford private education 30 years ago.

I haven't found my friends to be hostile to the decision I have made regarding schooling. On the other hand, my mum (retired teacher) and sister (teacher) have made it very clear that they disapprove of my decision. Apparently I should have sent my children to the local catchment school (which has been in and out of special measures for several years) because 'if you don't support it, it will never improve'. hmm

boomoohoo Fri 11-Apr-14 10:27:01

It IS all all a out money, of course it is! If u have money, u have more choices, simples! The question is really, are u ok with that or are u not?

If u feel uncomfortable about choosing private school I suspect ur values lie closer to notions of equality, rather than freedom.

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