What's the difference between a "hothouse" and a school that pushes your child to meet their true natural ability?

(200 Posts)
HappyDads Thu 20-Dec-12 01:56:00

On Mumsnet, "hothouse" often seems to be used - by implication - as a slightly derogatory term for "damaging your child" by those not getting into said hothouse school (Westminister, St. Pauls, Eton, SPGS, Tiffins, Habs, Wycombe Abbey etc - whatever floats your boat actually).

Yet we all want our DCs to reach their maximum potential, and be stretched, yet without being damaged. Where is our dividing point?

Seriously I struggle to balance my own thinking with my DD at a school often described as both a "hothouse" and yet also called "balanced".

So what is a "hothouse" and is it more a term of jealousy vs your own DC's ability, or is it something more tangible you can describe?

JoanByers Thu 20-Dec-12 03:18:30

At any comp at year end there will be a number of pupils with strings of A*s. These children are obviously bright kids, no hothousing.

At a very selective school there might be ONLY bright kids, and therefore very high numbers of A*s for all is not evidence of hothousing.

Hothouse practices are:

* not allowing children to sit their exam, or making them sit privately, or expelling them if they are thought not to be on track for A's.
* taking a less able intake (so NOT the likes of Wycombe Abbey) and spoon feeding then to get high numbers of A's
* insisting on constant activity (this seems to be the case at Eton)

I think that the most successful schools have no need to hot house because they attract the brightest children. That's not to say they won't engage in hothouse practices because they want to get 98% rather than 96% A's, but it's not necessary.

I would imagine that there's a lot of hothousing going on with the less able children, e.g. the d grade students, to push them up to A's. but for the bright there's simply no need, but that's not to say the school won't then demand taat they also do numerous other activities, music, etc.

propatria Thu 20-Dec-12 07:12:05

Hoithouse schools are attended by other peoples children,the school that pushes to ensure true natural ability is met is attended by ones own children,simple...

TotallyBS Thu 20-Dec-12 07:22:39

Insisting on lots of activities is an example of hot-housing???

My DCs each have extra curricular activities 3 times a week on top of music lessons and practice sessions. One DC also goes to two lunchtime clubs on top. My kids were being hot-housed and I didn't know. I thought that they were just packing a lot into their lives.

happygardening Thu 20-Dec-12 08:19:57

"expelling them if they are thought not to be on track for A's."
I think the schools would rather it was called "asking them to find a more suitable school" this is I suspect the norm in all super selectives and in fact in many selectives in the independent and state sector even our "comp" (one of the top performing comps in the UK) asks children to find a more "suitable" school if their AS results aren't good enough.
Some children thrive in a "hothouse" environment they love the A* culture and participate in a myriad of extra curricular activities as well others simply drown. You just have to work out whether or not your child will like it or not.

wildirishrose Thu 20-Dec-12 09:05:48

Thousands of children gain a string of A/A*s at GCSE and A level each year without being "hothoused"

happygardening Thu 20-Dec-12 09:25:06

I think it becomes a hothouse environment when an A* (or whatever I suppose) becomes the expected norm and a child is going to struggle to achieve this, feels under intense pressure whether from his parents or school to do this.
I've repeatedly heard in the last few months from a variety of heads in both the state and independent sector that achieving an A at GCSE (Im not so sure this applies so much to IGCSE as there's no course work) is not a mark of intelligence it's an ability to follow instructions and jump through hoops in the correct order. Perhaps many children feel that a lot of pressure is being applied to make them jump through these hoops in the right order? Also perhaps this order is contrary to what they feel comfortable doing?

bulletpoint Thu 20-Dec-12 09:29:07

Joanbyers - "taking a less able intake (so NOT the likes of Wycombe Abbey) and spoon feeding them to get high numbers of A's" confused care to elaborate more ? You also mentioned less able children pushed up to get A's do i detect some disdain for the less able child here ?

So basically a less able child in your opinion a D child, has got A's and that means child has been hothoused. How would you be able to correctly assess another child's true ability ?
by your very definition this maybe exactly what some parents might call "stretched to reach their maximum ability without being damaged "

happygardening Thu 20-Dec-12 09:36:13

Many years ago my DH went to one of those mentioned by the OP above it. It was super selective then too. Only a relative handful got all A's at O level and and an even smaller handful A's at A level. Those who achieved these results were seen by my DH and other to be super super bright in a school of the very bright. If bullet your saying a genuine "D child" with the right help can achieve an A therefore backing up the comment I made above then surely something is going very wrong with our exam system?

Bonsoir Thu 20-Dec-12 09:45:32

Some children thrive in a competitive hothouse - that very environment is the one that pushes them happily to achieve their maximum potential. My DSS2 (15) is one of those children - he adapts to meet the challenge as he always wants to be "best in class" at whatever he turns his hand to. DSS1 (17) is a very conscientious and hard-working pupil, but he is quickly at the limits of his capacities - he doesn't have time for much in the way of extra-curricular activities if he wants to perform well at school, and he needs a lot of TLC. They both go to the same school, which is perfect for DSS1 and gets the most out of him. I suspect DSS2 could deal with an even more demanding environment...

For DD (8) it is still a little early to tell, and I don't want to pressurise her at all. But I suspect she is more like DSS2 than DSS1... and we will choose her school accordingly.

bulletpoint Thu 20-Dec-12 09:48:37

Happyg - I strongly doubt a true D child with the right help (bar providing all the answers in an exam) would suddenly metamorphose into an A, at most would pobably acheive a strong C'.

But i detect in joanbyers tone complete contempt for any child that is less than "super bright" trying to better him or herself, a tone i've alo picked up from her in other threads. I also wonder how she can get a accurate baseline of child unless she is the teacher, and would like her to explain to me how she knows someone with an A, is actually D material.

It seems they are damned if they don't and damned again if they do succeed.

I must admit I had always thought of a hothouse as a school that pushed academic achievement to the exclusion of everything else. So whilst St P and Westminster are academically pressured, given how selective the intake is, I wonder if they are true hothouses.

I may get a different perspective as I am starting the school tours shortly.

Bonsoir Thu 20-Dec-12 09:52:10

In Paris there are some schools that are true hothouses - there are almost no co-curricular activities or deviance from an academic curriculum. They are very competitive and produce prototype nerds who excel at engineering school and have massive mid-life crises.

I don't think England has such schools, tbh.

happygardening Thu 20-Dec-12 09:52:57

bullet you say this and it makes sense to me but this is not what Im hearing from heads. They are very firmly telling me that with the right teaching, an ability to follow instructions to the letter with regard to answering exams and cpourse work and lots of hard work that a A at GCSE is doable for most children these days hence the "big jump" that many children find between GCSE and A level.

ReallyTired Thu 20-Dec-12 09:54:17

Lots of countries have no qualms about working hard. It is only the UK (or possibly the US) where working hard is looked down on. Intelligence is mallible and working hard and doing lots of interesting things makes a child brighter.


Why is it considered better to veg in front of the TV or nintendo than go to the extra maths tutition. Some children love permamently being on the go and learning.

happygardening Thu 20-Dec-12 09:56:12

Chaz what about when children are very firmly told that academic achievement must at all times take priority over everything else some would say "bloody right too" other especially the child may feel that this is not what they want. I suspect as I and others have said above its all about whats right for the individual.

happygardening Thu 20-Dec-12 09:57:51

"or possibly the US"
My BIL worked for a US bank I didn't get the impression hard work was looked down upon in fact the complete opposite.

bulletpoint Thu 20-Dec-12 09:59:27

Bonsoir - by your description i agree i dint know of any school in the u.k like this either. I have heard of people referring to the partially selective school in the next village from me as a 'hot house' (it only takes about 10%, selectively by the way), when really they haven't got a chance of getting in because its not in our catchment! Nothing to do with the basic test they may be required to sit.

Another local parent was aghast when a parent whose child was at the school mentioned her DD doing homework till 9pm (yr 9 by the way), Ds is 11 and does homework sometimes way past that.

wordfactory Thu 20-Dec-12 10:00:01

I think the term 'hothouse' probably means schools with highly selective intake and high expectations in terms of results.

For some DC such places are dire. Others thrive.

I know a lot of kids at Habs and some love it. Some are utterly utterly miserable.
DD absolutely refused to go.

DS attends one of the schools mentioned by chaz and finds it great. He's laid back and doesn't do stress or pressure. During his entrance/scholarship exams I heard some real horror stories from other parents and yet DS didn't lose a second's sleep. The morning of one of his assessments he asked if he could pop in a cafe for an extra bacon sarnie!!!

seeker Thu 20-Dec-12 10:03:55

Is the child concerned genuinely happy (not just parent pleasing), excited about learning and keen to go to school? Then the school is giving your child what it needs, and sufficient challenge.

If no, then not.

Bonsoir Thu 20-Dec-12 10:04:27

The hothouse mentality is sadly still alive and well in France (the prépas, a sort of extra two years of schooling required to prepare the competitive entrance exam to grandes écoles are hothouses). You only need to take a cursory glance at France's position in the international educational league tables to draw a conclusion about the wisdom of such a system.

happygardening Thu 20-Dec-12 10:06:26

I suspect the super bright thrive in the schools thought to be "hot houses" maybe the slightly less able who might have been tutored or perhaps are in the bottom of the intake and lets face it someone has to be are the ones who struggle and feel insecure although Im sure some don't and could care less. Others are natural perfectionists and how ever well they are doing even if they are in the top of the intake might be personally driving themselves to to better all the time the pressure is coming from within.

seeker Thu 20-Dec-12 10:07:46

I agree, bonsoir, my god daughter is at one. Her mum thinks it's fantastic. We have agreed not to talk about it!

Oh, and no 11 year old should ev be doing homework past 9 at night. Unless it's a self induced crisis of some sort. And then only as a one off thing.

BellsaRinging Thu 20-Dec-12 10:08:44

i actually went to one of those mentioned and really don't think it was a hothouse if you mean it in the sense of results are all and students are spoonfed gcse passes. i didn't particularly enjoy the social aspect of school-basically i preferred being with my non school friends and didn't fit in too well. however, the education was second to none and encouraged independant thinking and also female academic achievement. the upside of this is that it was never suggested to me that i couldn't achieve something because i was female. the downside is that because a clean sweep of a's at gcse and a level was the norm i have to struggle against being unimpressed with anything else from the children!

Miggsie Thu 20-Dec-12 10:10:14

I know someone whom I consider to have hot-housed their child:

Taught them counting from 9 months, sat them in front of times table Videos from 1 year so they could chant all the times tables by the time they were 18 months.
Did not bother with songs or nursery rhymes as "they are not important".
Taught them all the names of mathematical solids so they knew what a googleplex and a tetrahedron was before they could say "cat".
Taught them to sit at a PC and do maths websites beofre they were 2.

Sent them to nursery from age 2.5 but when the child would not mix declared it was becasue the other children were below their child's level intellectually (although I would have siad it was because he coulnd't speak so it was difficult to establish social relationships).

Relentlessly took them around educational centres and museums every week to learn maths and science.

I consder that to be hot - housing.

A child who can chant times tables up to 12x12 but cannot string a single sentence together has been damaged by that process.

5 years on and his speech is still under developed - but is 3 years ahead in maths.

At DD's school there is a family whose children have 30 mins music lesson beofre school and 30 mins after school every day, they also obviously have to practsie a lot at home. They are on grade 6 by age 8 - however they don't actually seem to be enjoying the process.

bulletpoint Thu 20-Dec-12 10:12:07

What is a hot house to one parent is a rather "good school" to another. I don't believe there can be one standard definition, its best to just assess each school based on what's right for one's child.

seeker Thu 20-Dec-12 10:15:05

As I said, child happy, excited and learning = challenging.
Child not hqppy, stressed, anxious and learning- or spending hours on homework before they get to public exams= hothouse.

bulletpoint Thu 20-Dec-12 10:32:20

Happyg - just to pick up on your previous point, it seems then from what you've described, that the D children in this particular case are not scoring low due to lack of knowledge but due to poor 'exam technique' in which i can see why the Heads are convinced that if this is addressed they can achieve A's. I may be wrong but this is how i interpret it.

I suppose in all honesty a D child can be so for very many reasons other than lack of natural ability and we sometimes miss this crucial fact.

Bonsoir Thu 20-Dec-12 10:33:29

We have lots of friends and acquaintances here in Paris who have sent their children to "hothouse" lycées and prépas, or engaged strongly in hothousing (masses of conservatoire, for example). A lot - though not all - of the children have had major teenage crises - anorexia, depression, complete loss of motivation etc.

LaVolcan Thu 20-Dec-12 10:34:08

For me, it would be the girl who is in tears because, despite putting all the hours and more required in, she 'only' got As instead of an A*s, instead of celebrating the fact that this is a good achievement.

bulletpoint Thu 20-Dec-12 10:44:04

To correct what i said in answer to happyg" ...... Not due to lack of knowledge (poor exam technique is also lack of knowledge!) i should have said "due to lack of natural ability for the subject"

mummytime Thu 20-Dec-12 10:44:45

If they are pushing then I would think they are hothousing.

I prefer schools which provide opportunities and encourage pupils to take them. Which challenge and extend. An over reliance on exam results is a bad sign, the best schools get strings of A* from bright pupils without pressure or narrowing the curriculum.

Does the school celebrate everyone's success, does it look for success from everyone? What extra-curricula opportunities are there? What community service opportunities? What is the pastoral care like?

rabbitstew Thu 20-Dec-12 10:45:51

Your child was hothoused if he or she turns around to you when he is an adult and tells you he was and that he seriously resented it.

I know that for some parents academic acheivement is to come first, second and third. I just wonder if some of the schools that are assumed to be hothouses actually are. My sons' prep is a feeder into one of the schools I mentioned and I get the sense that whilst good academic results are expected its not surprising that a cohort that needed 70% in the CE to get in, produce good results. Certainly what I have seen of those schools seem to place quite a lot of emphasis on sport, music and extra curricular activities as well e.g. St P has a long lunch break (1hr 40m) to allow for clubs etc.

Elibean Thu 20-Dec-12 11:06:27

Bonsoir, all very true - and sad. My mother (who is 84) remembers her own education in Paris, and says 'it was a sausage factory - and the problem was, I was not a sausage'

wildirishrose Thu 20-Dec-12 11:13:00

Only thick children need to be pushed/tutored, true academic children are self starters and will always go the extra mile to achieve the best results whatever school they attend.

LaVolcan Thu 20-Dec-12 11:34:51

@wildirishrose - best keep away from all those threads about Tiffins then smile, unless you want a cyberlynching of course.

TotallyBS Thu 20-Dec-12 11:37:54

If hot-housing is where a school pursues academic excellence to the exclusion of everything else like sports, the arts, music and drama then I doubt that the ones mentioned in the OP's list are hot-housing schools. Anyone who has but a passing familiarity with the schools know how much importance they place on music, art, drama and sports.

As one poster said upthread, one parent's hot housed child is another's thriving and challenged child.

There are children who have landed in an academic environment where they can't cope (cue debate about over tutored kids and the 11+). Whatever school they are in will be accused of hot-housing by the parent.

One only needs to look at the long continuing thread about Habs Girls that gets bumped every few months. I know kids who went there and they loved it. But there are no shortage of ex Habs girls going on about hot-housing and the academic pressure.

TotallyBS Thu 20-Dec-12 11:42:49

wildirish: MN is full of stories about bright kids that failed the 11+ because their parents didn't believe in tutoring. I'm guessing that there are a lot of parents with 'thick' tutored kids with offers that are glad that there are parents like you out there grin

badguider Thu 20-Dec-12 11:49:13

"we all want our DCs to reach their maximum potential, and be stretched"

Well, i dont' know, i want my DC to be happy.... getting good grades at school opens more possibilities than not getting such good grades, BUT... grades are a reflection of the level a child is working at and leads to opportunities that require the continuation of working at that level. I think 'hothousing' is the effort to artificially inflate the grades a child gets to make them exceed expectations and appear comfortable working at a higher level than they really are comfortable at.

A 'hothouse' would push a child at primary level to get marks required for a selective environment at secondary that requires them to keep pushing and pushing to keep up with their peers and get grades for a university that requires them to keep pushing... being a little bit out of your comfort zone occassionally is a good thing but being always out of your comfort zone, feeling like you might sink at any moment and always on edge is not a way i'd want to live my life and not what i want for my DC either.

I do hope you are joking because quite frankly I think there is a fairly significant number of bright kids from more deprived backgrounds that are not reaching their full potential due to a whole range of issues such as poor schools, lack of resources, lack of space and quiet to do hw etc. There is a limit to how far self starting can take you.

badguider Thu 20-Dec-12 11:53:32

oh, and you can totally 'hothouse' in sport and music and cadets and DofE etc. etc. as well as academics...

in fact, pressure to get tons of A*s AND play in the firsts for rugby or hockey AND get gold DofE AND a grade 8 in an instrument etc... can be worse than just academic pressure on its own.

happygardening Thu 20-Dec-12 11:53:56

Chaz I know all about St Pauls and its long lunch break and am a great admirer of it. It probably appears that the boys are working hard because there day is actually not very long especially compared to boarding schools all I believe finish at 4 pm.
The one big difference I do know about compared to my DS school (also considered a hot house by some) is that my DS's school does not set homework over the holidays (no relief smiley what a shame) whereas St Pauls I know does. My husband an old Pauline used to hate the endless homework given over the holidays at that was many many moons ago.

happygardening Thu 20-Dec-12 11:59:09

"oh, and you can totally 'hothouse' in sport and music and cadets and DofE etc. etc. as well as academics..."
Years ago I trained along side world class sportsman (Im not one just privileged enough to train along side them) and those identified as potential world class young sportsman. They worked at their chosen sport day and night this is essential if you are going to achieve at world class level. Some would say this is hot housing and I know they had days when they hated it but that is how you win Olympic medals.

NightLark Thu 20-Dec-12 12:02:45

Wildirishrose's point is my ILs point of view. With the result that DH was never allowed to learn to play an instrument (something he would have loved to do) because "if he had the true ability he would just pick up something and play it, he wouldn't need encouraging". I think that is a shame. And the concept easily translates to other aspects of academic and recreational life.

I think hothousing is pushing your children way beyond what they would enjoy. Encouraging and placing opportunities in their way is different.

I did not 'hothouse' DS when I insisted he stayed at football practice rather than quitting, despite his tears and protests at the first session. I made sure he took the opportunity to improve his football - something he had been begging to do for months. Had I insisted he stayed week after week if he had carried on hating it, practiced when he was tired, and that he was always 'the best', that would be hothousing.

bulletpoint Thu 20-Dec-12 12:09:53

Oh, and no 11 year old should ev be doing homework past 9 at night. Unless it's a self induced crisis of some sort. And then only as a one off thing.

You don't know anything about my dc day to day life so you are not in a position to dictate when 11 year olds should finish their homework. What would be more useful to know is what the quantity of homework is not what time they finish.

happygardening Thu 20-Dec-12 12:11:08

"practiced when he was tired,"
those aiming to be the best in the world IME frequently practice when they are way beyond tired, but what they don't do is believe that they are the "best." Many i knew had little belief in their obvious abilities they and their trainers were were constantly analysing and criticising their performance.

seeker Thu 20-Dec-12 12:12:41

Actually, I don't think it matters what sort of day to day life a child has, they shouldn't be doing homework past 9.00 at the age of 11.

happygardening Thu 20-Dec-12 12:15:03

seeker I too wouldn't let my 11 yr old regularly work past 9 pm but we are all different and also have a different structure to day/life.

NightLark Thu 20-Dec-12 12:18:05

HG, I think that's part of it. I see intensive work, intensive training as different to hothousing. I have worked intensively, am one of those self-starting academic achievers from a very ordinary comprehensive school background. My choice, even at a young age.

IMO, hothousing is what happens when it is all about other people - parents, schools - not the children in question.

rabbitstew Thu 20-Dec-12 12:28:17

There isn't a single Olympic athlete, or successful ballet dancer, or world famous classical musician who wasn't hothoused. And I agree, having a positive expectation of constant activity and betterment in academic, sporting AND musical achievement all at the same time is also hothousing. Hothouse flowers can, of course, be quite beautiful. As I've already said, whether hothousing is worth it surely depends on the view of the person being hothoused at the end of the day? Unless we are claiming that people are the property of society and if you can create someone who offers up a lot to the rest of society, it doesn't matter how they were created or how they feel about the process of creation?????

bulletpoint Thu 20-Dec-12 12:32:19

Seeker - yes it does matter what the child's day to day life is like; what time they finish school, what is the quantity of homework, what time did they START the homework ? wether they have breaks in between homework, is it the child deciding to carry on working past 9pm or the parents enforcing it ? what is the child's normal bedtime ? You don't know any of this and so i repeat you are NOT in a position to dictate, you are NOT informed on each individual's circumstances, so stop acting like you know it all.

happygardening Thu 20-Dec-12 12:36:07

You make a very valid point NightLark what worries me is that sometimes children believe this is what they want /is right for them because they are responding to the expectations of their parents school trainer etc. My friends daughter was "star spotted"at an early age in her chosen sport spent 15 years telling us she loved it and then got up one day and admitted she'd always hated it just could tell her parents/trainer the truth!

TotallyBS Thu 20-Dec-12 12:44:08

Most week days my kids have after school activities. Then they come home, have early-ish dinner and then they are off again to their music lessons. So doing homework after 9pm isn't that unusual.

Why do some posters get so judgy pants when it comes to homework?

happygardening Thu 20-Dec-12 12:49:53

If I put my slack parent hat on I think homework is the work of the devil. but with my slack parent hat off I accept its a necessary evil! But people do get very excited about it or the lack of it or too much time spent on it/how much time others DC's spend on it. Best to let it wash over you.

mumzy Thu 20-Dec-12 13:00:19

Hot housing IMO is pushing DCs way beyond their developmental stages academically+/ or physically. Usually by making dcs practise a particular task endlessly until they achieve the required level to the exclusion of other activities. Dcs may be threatened physically, shamed or emotionally blackmailed to make them perform. IME It is rife in certain cultures sad

TotallyBS Thu 20-Dec-12 13:06:15

IME the children of my anti-homework friends are invariably left to vegetate in front of the tv or console monitor. So it's not as if homework gets in the way of some extra curricular activity.

Anyway, every child's abilities, aspirations and circumstances is different. Just because a critic's DC's brain would melt if they had to work past 9pm is no excuse to get all judgy pants.

chicaguapa Thu 20-Dec-12 13:08:42

DH's school does a mixture of both. The high ability kids are all predicted to get A* based on Y6 SATS and Y7 CAT tests. But the low ability kids are being hothoused to get Cs even though they are predicted to get less. DH has to give one-to-one revision classes after school for the kids who are struggling to get Cs. He also has a very distruptive kid in one of his classes that he's not allowed to remove as said child must get a C in his GCSE and cannot miss any learning. hmm

One could argue that this is the measure of a good school and if your not very bright DC came out with all grade Cs, I expect as a parent you'd be quite pleased. It certainly has an excellent reputation in the area, but the teachers are under as much pressure to squeeze the results out of the kids as the kids are! And it's beyond making sure the kids acheive their potential and as much about preserving the school's position on the league table. Some of them must leave with a great deal of resentment - but great results.

seeker Thu 20-Dec-12 13:12:11

"IME the children of my anti-homework friends are invariably left to vegetate in front of the tv or console monitor. So it's not as if homework gets in the way of some extra curricular activity.

Anyway, every child's abilities, aspirations and circumstances is different. Just because a critic's DC's brain would melt if they had to work past 9pm is no excuse to get all judgy pants."

grin Mrs Pot, may I introduce you to Miss Kettle?

happygardening Thu 20-Dec-12 13:18:00

Very funny seeker
I may be anti homework but Im even more anti TV/couch potato!!

TotallyBS Thu 20-Dec-12 13:18:51

seeker: I'm not the one telling other MNetters that they are bad parents for making their children do homework after 9pm. That would be you.

grin Mrs Pot, may I introduce you to yourself?

rabbitstew Thu 20-Dec-12 13:39:54

How do you know you are pushing someone past their developmental stage, mumzy????? Is any kind of active intervention, including sending your child to school, pushing them beyond their developmental stage? What about children with learning disabilities? Is doing lots of focused work with someone who is dyslexic pushing them beyond their "developmental stage," or helping them cope in the real world????? Is teaching a dyspraxic child how to do get dressed pushing them beyond their developmental stage or helping them towards independence in adult life? Is it better for a child's self esteem if they have serious problems with essential life skills not to bother to teach them at all, because you might have to push them to learn how to do it, or better to teach them so that they can join in more effectively with other children????

seeker Thu 20-Dec-12 13:55:39

TotallyBS- but you are the one telling mumsnetters that if children aren't doing homework they are vegetating in front of a screen!

I think that the "hothousing " thing is usually about parents wants rather than children's wants. I think this because I recognise it in myself on occasion, and do my best to fight against it. It's a fantastic feeling to be able to say that your child won a medal, or got grade 8 or whatever. But it shouldn't be about the parent.

TotallyBS Thu 20-Dec-12 14:09:02

seeker: Is English your 2nd language? I was referring to "my anti-homework friends ". Somehow you read this and saw a generalisation confused.

TotallyBS Thu 20-Dec-12 14:17:59

"It shouldn't be about the parent"

I can see why you have such a fan club seeker grin

I read your posts about being pissed off because your DS's school had its carol service in the school hall as opposed to somewhere more Christmas-ee. Then there was the school orchestra rant. Then you post some asinine comment about how it's all be about the child.

LaQueen Thu 20-Dec-12 14:39:50

I think if a child is already very clever, then they don't need hot-housing.

I think hot-housing is what's done to children of only average/below average ability trying to force their brains to work at a speed/level which isn't natural/normal to them.

I know a parent, with an average ability child. This child is required to slog through endless work-books from W.H.Smiths, every night. They are expected to do several drafts of their homework. The have to learn 5 new words per day, and write a definition of each word. TV is banned and they are required to read books far above their understanding (they can de-code the words, but have no understanding of the book).

The child doesn't appear to be thriving and enjoying all this. The child is still pretty much placed in the middle of the class, ability wise.

lljkk Thu 20-Dec-12 14:46:13

"Yet we all want our DCs to reach their maximum potential"

I take issue with that assumption.
Success & satisfaction in life are a lot different from reaching "maximum potential".

Problem is in how that potential is identified & measured, perhaps. I don't think it works well to do it externally; hothousing is externally driven.

TotallyBS Thu 20-Dec-12 14:49:23

McQueen: But where would that child be placed if he/she wasn't pushed to this degree?

I agree that it is bad to push a child to the point where they are emotionally stressed. However, in the absence of such stress, such an attitude is better IMO than the parent who gives up on the child with the excuse/acceptance that their child isn't academic.

TotallyBS Thu 20-Dec-12 14:50:20

Sorry LaQueen. Damned auto correct.

LaQueen Thu 20-Dec-12 14:54:56

It's a tricky one, BS. I think if it reaches the point where the child is enjoying very little, if any of the hot-housing, then you need to reassess.

I'm all for ensuring any child gets a very solid educational grounding - but I think pushing them hard beyond their natural level, resulting in them feeling very stressed, isn't worth it.

wildirishrose Thu 20-Dec-12 14:55:02

I had the most amazing childhood, we went to a state school, we played all holiday, we didn't have tutors yet we managed to pass all our exams and go on to have successful careers. The GCSE/A level syllabus has not changed since my day so I don’t understand the need for hothouses or tutors unless children of today are less intelligent and need to work all the hours God sends just to pass GCSEs.

gelo Thu 20-Dec-12 15:21:06

I don't suppose anyone ever reaches their 'maximum potential' in any case. Having a love of learning would be a better aspiration for a lot of dc, then they will push themselves for curiosities sake. I don't agree with LaQueen that the very clever all do this themselves and are never hothoused, but I think a lot of them do.

While virtually everyone probably needs a bit of a nudge from time to time, hothousing is where this is taken too far and as with everything people will all have different opinions as to where 'too far' actually is.

I fell behind in one of my A level subjects and my dad got me a tutor. The reason I fell behind wasn't lack of ability but because my Mum had just died.

You can't always make generalisations. If a child's education has been disrupted by death, divorce, illness or problems with the school such as bullying or high teacher turnover tutoring may be a very good thing.

Your childhood sounds lovely but not everyone has a lovely childhood.

TotallyBS Thu 20-Dec-12 15:27:05

wildirish: Maybe I missed it but no one here is advocating that children should work all the hours that God sends. So I don't know who you are arguing with.

wordfactory Thu 20-Dec-12 16:58:41

I think gelo sums it up well...we all (whatever our ability) need a little nudge from time to time.

I think nudging is a positively good thing. I'd go so far as to say a necessary thing if we're to keep challenging ourselves in life.

seeker Thu 20-Dec-12 17:06:44

I don't imagine there's a child born that always practices or trains or learns without the occasional reminder. Or bribe. Or threat smile. if you have to remind or bribe or threaten more often then not, then the situation needs rethinking.

wordfactory Thu 20-Dec-12 17:15:08

Adults too seeker...we all fall into patterns and get cosy in our comfort zones from time to time. A kick up the arse can be just the thing!

mumzy Thu 20-Dec-12 17:33:13

Rabbit stew I knew a mum who made her 5 year old write out ds bs ps qs until midnight because he kept getting them the wrong way round in class. She wouldn't accept that once his brain had developed further he would naturally write them correctly. Her theory was if he hadn't practised enough.

happygardening Thu 20-Dec-12 17:45:51

"them feeling very stressed"
For many years I worked in an exceedingly stressful environment where life and death decisions were being regularly made and staff experienced daily threats of violence often involving guns and and knifes. . I loved it as did my colleagues no one wanted to do the quieter more mundane parts of the job and we all used to put our selves forward for the really stressful bits!!. Some people love stressful situations and their head clears and they are at their best. Others of course hate it and run for the hills.

gelo Thu 20-Dec-12 18:12:14

Probably not seeker, but some dc are extraordinarily self motivated and need to be reminded to ease off and do other stuff, more often than be reminded to do their homework!

vess Thu 20-Dec-12 19:34:51

I love the A, B, C and D child classification! Reminds me of Brave New World.

Not sure why I'm looking at this thread...

JoanByers Thu 20-Dec-12 22:11:22

Regarding hothousing and my points above, if you look at GCSE results for, say Surrey, which has a very large number of privately educated children:


The top 22 schools were all private.
The 23rd school is a Catholic state school.
The 24th and 25th are again private.
The 26th is a state boarding school.
The 27th is a private school.
The 28th is another Catholic state school.
The 29th is a state comprehensive.
The 30th is another independent school.
The 31st is a (mostly) comprehensive girls school.
The 32nd is a Catholic state school.
The 33rd is another independent school.
The 34th is another independent school (note, it's listed further down, King Edward's, but they do IGCSE: www.kesw.org/en/studying/exam-results)

There is another independent school listed further down, Box Hill. They are rather cagey about their 5 'good GCSE' grades. www.boxhillschool.com/about-us/exam-results/, but again this is an IGCSE school.

(Hurtwood House is a sixth form)

The county's state school average was 63% of children getting 5 'good GCSEs'. (Nationally it is 58%)

This average was surpassed by all of the county's private schools.

Not just one or two, but all of them.

And, don't think that these private schools are all for the super-bright. Clearly that is not possible. Just because you can afford to pay school fees, doesn't mean you have a very able child.

For example, the head of one of the private schools there with 95%+ 5 good GCSEs told me they didn't have any very bright boys at all, and that GCSEs were a spoon-feeding exercise. The Good Schools Guide, for what it is worth, confirms that in one of its telling asides.

Some of the schools in their lower down the list such as Box Hill, Ewell Castle, and so on, have a reputation for taking SEN etc.

Because private schools don't have a catchment, especially in an area like Surrey with so many to choose from, they tend to be highly stratified by ability - the brightest children will go to the most highly selective schools, and so on down the line. Obviously there are exceptions to this, perhaps you live close to a particular school, or want to educate two siblings of unequal ability at the same school, but by and large this is how it works.

For that reason the lower schools on the list will tend to have an intake skewed towards the less able children, and the fact that they still perform better than state comprehensives considered highly successful suggests that GCSEs can indeed be 'hot housed', if that is the correct phrase.

rabbitstew Thu 20-Dec-12 22:44:20

But mumzy - that doesn't sound like a child with a learning disability, just a child whose mother didn't understand normal child development or how to encourage it. And I doubt her technique worked, in which case that isn't hothousing as most people understand it - where intense pressure is put on a child to practice and perform and this does bring impressive results, but possibly at a significant cost. What you describe sounds like uneducated bullying for no real gain. Say the child had been 10 and still reversed letters. I'm sure you wouldn't be so condemnatory then of interventions being made to assess the cause of the problem and work out how to ameliorate the symptoms, even if doing this required a lot of work on the child's part.

I, for example, have put a huge amount of effort into helping my ds1 with his motor planning, co-ordination and muscle strength, ever since he was 17 months old and still couldn't even get himself into a sitting position, let alone move, and, frankly, have only noticed colossal benefits to his self-esteem that he can now join in with his friends running in the playground, can throw and catch reasonably well, has hands strong enough to write and play the piano, and can dress himself without difficulty. I would find it most offensive to be told I had hothoused him and he would have been better off being left to develop or not develop the capacity to do these things without the physiotherapy and someone painstakingly breaking tasks down for him to learn by rote. He even had to be taught how to unwrap presents. It would have been cruel, in my opinion, to sit him in front of them and tell him he couldn't have them unless he worked out how to unwrap them for himself, and would have removed from him a pleasure others experience if he always had presents unwrapped for him by someone else.... so where do you assess the "appropriate developmental stage" in all that??????? Or are you expecting everyone to fit in with your view of the norms????

olguis Thu 20-Dec-12 23:30:11

I am sure this won't get any traction here; but will post anyway. I am relatively new to this country, and was puzzled from the beginning about this constant rant about 'ability' in very young children. This is actually very unusual, and in my country you don't really start talking about ability before kids are 14 or so...

So, I was thinking and thinking on why in this country people don't believe in rigorous teaching, but it is acceptable, for teachers and educators, to go on and on about 'higher ability' and 'lower ability'...(in relation to 5 year olds, 6 year olds)... Some kind of hidden eugenics! To the extent that it is a impossible to think outside of these constructions, at least for a moment.

And today I had an idea. It is actually connnected to the class culture of this country. Because it is so deeply unequal, and historically so; this inequality is so deeply engrained and normalised, that people accept vocabularies of further inequalities. Inequality by birth, genes, or whatever (ability), can't be changed by teaching or studying hard, shouldn't be changed (! = hothousing), but need to be tolerated and just lived with and by. It is so much like everything else the population tolerates in terms of inequality, and so much in line with the ethics of 'putting your head down and getting through', that it actually looks like one more element of a puzzle.

JoanByers Fri 21-Dec-12 00:27:42

Of course it's a class issue. The worst schools in the country are essentially free of middle class parents. The children at these schools (e.g., St Aldehelm's Academy, 3% GCSE www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/9494568.St_Aldhelm___s_Academy_named_worst_school_in_GCSE_league_tables/?ref=mr) are not genetically inferior, they are just the product of an environment that does not value education.

By the time they reach 16 of course, they have pretty much had it.

Hence perhaps the drive to identify them at 5 and 6....

olguis Fri 21-Dec-12 00:49:23

ah, so it's one another of those things which are clear to the insiders and completely obscure to the outsiders!

I thought ability is not related to class, because ability means (kinds of ) 'talent' and that can belong to anyone! But in what you say JoanByers, ability has a completely different meaning, actually a set of different, hidden meanings!

It has parental income, education, profession, expectations, all folded into it! As always, I take terms at face value, always my problem here. It now all makes sense, if one treats it as a euphemism!

JoanByers Fri 21-Dec-12 01:13:43

Ability is of course partly innate. But it's also environment.

I am not able to play lacrosse. However, I have never tried. If I were in an environment where I had played lacrosse from a young age, I would undoubtedly have a greater ability.

Likewise children at even the age of 5 from homes where education is valued will more likely be able to read (even if that is just a result of a story at bedtime each night), than those households that don't own a single book.

Class is quite complex though, in London there are many immigrants whose indicators (language, educational background, earnings) suggest that they are not middle class, but in fact are 'deprived', but they have brought with them a work ethic and a belief in the powers of education to better oneself. Their children do very well at school.

In terms of educational outcomes, for example, children of illegal immigrant Chinese takeaway chefs who speak no English at all, going to school in London where 40 languages are spoken, are likely, statistically, to substantially outperform children of an English family from Bootle, where only 1 language is spoken at school, but there is little interest in education (or anything else).

Both families are by the relevant measures 'deprived', but one will transcend this, make the most of the West's abundant opportunity, and the other will not.

HelpOneAnother Fri 21-Dec-12 01:26:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HelpOneAnother Fri 21-Dec-12 01:27:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hamishbear Fri 21-Dec-12 04:12:59

Olgius I agree re: school system. A child that's a level 3 at KS1 will be above average at KS2 or the school will have failed - they will be pushing for certain progress from this high ability child. I think this system can lead to pushiness & anxiety amongst parents but think on the whole it serves most children well.

Schools generally seen as 'hot houses' only allow those deemed high ability in in the first place. Generally I think it's assumed very academic children will thrive in a 'hot house' environment. None of them want the crammed or overly coached child they say. As I see it if your child gets in to Wycombe or St Paul's etc it's reasonably safe to assume it's the right environment for them - the schools know what they are doing interviewing & giving cognitive ability tests.

In the UK we don't really believe intellect can develop I think

Hamishbear Fri 21-Dec-12 04:23:03

Just meant to add in Asia diligence is valued & it is believed hard work can increase intellect. I've always found the more effort I put into something & the harder I work the smarter I get - not sure why different in children? Could I have got top grade at A'level - undoubtedly I think. The internet now rewards the resourceful & hardworking. If you don't understand a topic you can keep reading up until it clicks. You could even source your own online tutor if you had the funds (not as expensive as I'd imagined).

Also I agree with the comment that an average child can be coached to a A in GCSE. Even if you think intellect in fixed not sure why you'd think this was a mistake? These are entry level qualifications, offer a child more choice & at the very least show diligence, industriousness & perseverance.

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 07:07:19

JoanByers - "For that reason the lower schools on the list will tend to have an intake skewed towards the less able children, and the fact that they still perform better than state comprehensives considered highly successful suggests that GCSEs can indeed be 'hot housed', if that is the correct phrase."

No, I don't think that very solid, systematic teaching of middle-ability children in private schools to ensure they get a string of A and A* GCSEs is what is meant by hot-housing.

seeker Fri 21-Dec-12 07:45:08

The one thing we do know is that poor children do less well at school than better off ones. Obviously, there can't be an inherent difference, so it must be down to environment and expectations. Children who come from crowded houses with worried overworked parents and with no spare money for anything are going to be in a worse position to focus on school then a child with their own bedroom, parents not worrying where they are going to find the 3 quid for swimming and the time and emotional and physical energy to support them. And if your parents are well educated, the chances are you will be too- because your parents know how the system works, and are not afraid to engage with it and challenge it.

rabbitstew Fri 21-Dec-12 07:46:48

Hamishbear - maybe you fail to realise that being resourceful is an aspect of intelligence. Some people are not resourceful - if you ask them how they might find something out, they will get stuck (or ask the teacher to tell them). They do not have any great ability to think things through and research things for themselves and do not have the resilience to keep trying. They can, however, be taught how to pass exams if they are carefully given all the information they need and practise the techniques. It's just harder to teach them how to get off their backsides and find things out without that support. That's the difference between learning by rote and understanding and applying knowledge.

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 07:49:19

"The one thing we do know is that poor children do less well at school than better off ones. Obviously, there can't be an inherent difference, so it must be down to environment and expectations."

Seeker - why do you believe this?

wordfactory Fri 21-Dec-12 08:03:11

I suspect that statistically more able people will be higher earners than low ability people (onvioulsy there will be glaring anomalies before posters jump in with various anecdotes of their neighbour's cousin's ex BIL)...

Do those more able people then go on to have more able DC?

How genetic is intelligence/drive/ambition etc?

If there is a genetic component then staitistically rich DC will be more able than poor DC.

Or is the case that ability is a slippery monkey? That money and high expectation and certain styles of parenting enhance basic ability? And poverty, low expectation and certain styles of parenting hold back ability?

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 08:04:46

Have you read Coming Apart by Charles Murray? I know he's very scandalous and controversial, but his arguments are hard to resist...

wordfactory Fri 21-Dec-12 08:05:29

I haven't Bonsoir. Worth a look?

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 08:06:23

I think it's an interesting read, yes.

lljkk Fri 21-Dec-12 08:17:29

...poor children do less well at school than better off ones. Obviously, there can't be an inherent difference

Why not? confused

Obviously there are strong inherent differences in some cases.
Undiagnosed SN is top of the list, including conditions that can be inherited.

Lots of factors that contribute to odds of poverty and social deprivation can be inherited (genetic). That's not the fault of the poor, but silly to pretend not ever happening.

WynkenBlynkenandNod Fri 21-Dec-12 08:49:20

St Aldhelms is an interesting example. It's in Poole and some of those in the areas around whisper in hushed tones about how 'rough' it is round there. But that's because we live in a bit of a bubble round here and a lot of people have no idea what life is like in some inner city areas. Yes it is a bit run down and I told DH to turn the car round when we were exploring where to live in Poole but I've seen a hell of a lot worse areas. It really shouldn't be the worse in the country but is in a place with Grammars where the more academically able children are creamed off and I guess the rest are left to get on with it in St Aldhelms.

I've seen the St Aldelms pupils in action at my allotment site, one of the teachers came over and asked if I would tell a couple of the boys about growing beans on the wigwams I'd set up. They were polite, listened, thanked me then went off to build their own. There was clearly a lot of money thrown at them as they turned up with brand new equipment whereas our local upper school had no budget at all and the teacher was desperately trying to get plant donations. St Aldhelms gave up the allotment whereas the other school did well at it. A shame as the boys had worked hard and not been given the chance to see it through. Yes there was a fair bit of swearing and groups smoking under the trees but a firm hand from the teachers would have dealt with that. My friend's DD is at the other school and being pushed very hard to do five A levels, there's different expectations here as we are across the border from the Grammar (though a few go, they need higher grades than the Poole children).

That doesn't contribute to the debate about hot housing at all which is something I have been thinking about as need to decide in a bit whether to enter DS for 11 plus. I've got as far as deciding that full potential is a balance between academic success and personal happiness and that DS will definitely not be happy anywhere where all the focus is on academic achievement. DD is thriving with her choice of non catchment school for upper, having been bullied at middle school. Now she's happy her grades have shot up, been an eye opener for me. Will continue to watch this thread with interest.

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 09:04:08

I don't give a shit about my children "reaching maximum potential" whatever that actually means? I just want them to be happy, happy and kind to themselves and others. To those ends I will support them in whatever will make them happy, I will not expect they become high flyers or get A* in everything, there is more to life.

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 09:06:20

And I also really resent the constant wheat/chaff/buck passing/labelling that is done in schools. I think it is ridiculous and damaging. I don't believe in "ability", I think any child with the right support can do anything and I hate the way schools teach children not to think just to answer and that their opinions/thoughts are not desirable.

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 09:20:06

Most people are happiest when achieving at a level that requires them to stretch themselves just a bit...

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 09:27:16

Some people are and some people aren't. Being happy with being challenged and stretched is different to pushing your child to achieve their maximum potential. I don't think it makes children happy if their parent makes the decision that they need to reach their maximum potential (what does that mean?) I think if you focus on them being happy and secure they are more likely to achieve but not many people are truly happy working at maximum level because it excludes everything else that is important from their lives.

rabbitstew Fri 21-Dec-12 09:29:09

But Offred, it's all about money - the more support a child needs to do something, the more it costs. And maybe your children go to the wrong school if they are taught not to think, but just to answer according to a set format. Exams don't help, of course - if a school is judged on its exam results, then it will obviously focus on ensuring those exams are passed and teaching children the right way to answer questions in order to get maximum marks from examiners who have themselves been given no discretion to give credit to people who have more original ideas than the people who set the exam in the first place...
I remember finding my year at Law School hugely depressing after university, because I went from a system of being given huge credit for coming up with original arguments to one where you just had to ensure you had learnt everything in the textbook, which I found exceptionally dull. But when it comes down to it, you don't often want your solicitor to be hugely original, you want him or her to know and apply the law and your barrister to come up with novel but convincing ways of interpreting it when it all goes belly up. ie two different skill sets and requirements...

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 09:33:43

"You don't often want your solicitor to be hugely original, you want him or her to know and apply the law."

Indeed. I've never understood the attraction of the law, personally!

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 09:36:07

Like friends, social life, family, a bit of paid work.... Reaching maximum potential in this context feels neurotic to me. I'd rather they were having full lives and learning to be people rather than ending up like my siblings and I - one cracked under pressure and gave up on education when A* became unachievable through depression brought on in part by the same pressure which led to a feeling of there being no point doing anything, one is a psychiatrist but hates it and never wanted it and is sacrificing her whole life and chance of a relationship/family to it despite really wanting to work in theatre (she is miserable being a doctor and choose psych to make the best of it because of arty things), one went to Oxford and really hated it, all the people are neurotic, but is now largely cut off from parents because of their overbearing nature, the last is currently at uni still doing postgrad after achieving a first in his degree by doing nothing but kill himself to get good grades since sixth form and consequently suffers with crippling anxiety/agoraphobia...

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 09:37:18

All schools, especially "good" ones, teach to pass them exams not to think because the system is about accreditation not education.

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 09:39:52

Offred - you sound highly traumatised by your experiences sad

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 09:44:28

Wouldn't say highly traumatised, would say very wary of parents who decide their children should achieve maximum potential. There is nothing wrong with that if that's what the child wants/chooses, I don't think it is something a parent should want/choose for a child. My eldest two are clever and good at school, they, at the moment, want to be a mechanical engineer and a writer, if they wanted to be a hairdresser or a nursery worker or anything else that made them happy but didn't fully make use of their brains I will be happy and proud of them.

TotallyBS Fri 21-Dec-12 09:46:10

It riles me when people make it out that the poor owe their lot in life to being born poor.

We were poor but thanks to a free state schools and, at the time, free university both my sister and I went on to good jobs. Our older siblings left school at 16 and went into hairdressing and fast food but today all my nephews and nieces (all 6 of them) are graduates.

Ok, none of us are on the fast track to CEO but it's not bad considering our parents/grandparents were poor. If the case was made in somewhere like India where there is extreme poverty and the caste system exist then I would agree but the UK??? With FSM you can't even argue that the poor are hampered by the lack of nutritious food.

IMO it is not good to propagate this blame culture eg the common one of WC kids not getting into GS because of well off and heavily tutored MC kids. It teaches kids that they are not responsible for their success or lack of it.

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 09:47:57

I think you are discounting the recent changes in the education system there totally.

rabbitstew Fri 21-Dec-12 09:57:00

Totally - you do seem to be saying two different things at once - that you benefited from free state schools and free university, but that you think kids are responsible for their success or lack of it. You can't have it both ways: either you need some help to succeed in the form of accessible, free, high quality education for all, or you don't. You can't say you do AND you don't.

seeker Fri 21-Dec-12 10:00:04

But you have to deal with things as they are. The facts say that poor children currently do less well in education than better off ones. In education generally -this thread is, as far as I know, not about selective education.

It is obvious that things will be harder for poor children. If you have space to work, warmth, good food, no worries about money for swimming, then you have the best surroundings to do well. You can do well academically from a cold overcrowded house with parents exhausted from doing 3 jobs to make ends meet, or depressed by unemployment (or, yes, living a chaotic life on benefits). And one thing education should be doing is trying to redress the balance a bit. That's one of the things education is for.

rabbitstew Fri 21-Dec-12 10:00:07

Besides which, I think you are not talking about the same thing that privately educated people are talking about... it is precisely the failure of large numbers of state educated people to push themselves ferociously to the top of the corporate pile, or the legal profession, or the medical profession, etc, that is being bemoaned by the powers that be.

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 10:03:41

"The facts say that poor children currently do less well in education than better off ones."

The correlation between poverty and lower academic achievement doesn't mean that poverty is 100% the cause of that lower academic achievement.

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 10:07:11

To me the advantage of private education in those terms, getting to the top of the corporate ladder stuff, is the networking not the grades or the "potential" that is brought out in the child. People who "get to the top" all too often come from the "right" families, go to the "right" schools, have the "right" amount of wealth or privilege are the "right" colour and "right" gender and know the "right" people. Just because sometimes the system allows one or two people through does not mean it is fair, those people are to maintain the pretence of a meritocracy...

CaseyShraeger Fri 21-Dec-12 10:21:58

"For many years I worked in an exceedingly stressful environment where life and death decisions were being regularly made and staff experienced daily threats of violence often involving guns and and knifes. . I loved it as did my colleagues"

There's a big difference between constant stress during childhood while brains and personalities are still being formed and some adults' being quite happy with high-stress environments. Also, did you go from a stressful working environment to a stressful home environment? If a child is being seriously over-hothoused the stress is going to permeate their whole lives without a break (the "without a break" being part of the problem).

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 10:28:18

Also there is a difference between chosen self-imposed stress and stress imposed on you by a parent.

CaseyShraeger Fri 21-Dec-12 10:29:56

"With FSM you can't even argue that the poor are hampered by the lack of nutritious food."

Well, they get 190 meals out of 1095 meals required in a year provided - that's about 17% of their meals (leaving aside questions over how nutritious school meals actually are).

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 10:34:56

Lots of people don't claim FSM because of the stigma and actually having seen what they are made from and where they come from there is no way I'd put my dc on hot dinners because they are, at my school, made from the poorest quality ingredients full of chemicals and made offsite, kept warm and transported between schools. I don't think they are particularly healthy.

rabbitstew Fri 21-Dec-12 10:36:48

I think FSM can be a packed lunch, can't they? I don't think being guaranteed a sandwich a day whilst at school guarantees you get all the nutrients you need.

wordfactory Fri 21-Dec-12 10:47:50

Whilst I think abject poverty obviously does have an impact on children's outcomes, I'd say that is true of allsphweres of their lives. The underclass have poor outcomes in respect of health, mortality...everyhting.

What I think is more shocking/interesting is the differences in outcomes between the wealthy and the middle.

The middle don't live in overcrowded damp accommodation. They aren't hungry or cold. Their DC arent neglected. And yet the outcomes for their DC are getting worse...many of them will live in far less comfortabkle circumstances than their parents.

seeker Fri 21-Dec-12 10:48:17

The FSM comment was particularly crass.

seeker Fri 21-Dec-12 10:49:51

"The middle don't live in overcrowded damp accommodation. They aren't hungry or cold. Their DC arent neglected. And yet the outcomes for their DC are getting worse...many of them will live in far less comfortabkle circumstances than their parents."

But that's not due to education is it? It's due to global economic circumstqnces.

wordfactory Fri 21-Dec-12 10:50:26

Well according to the sandwich thread...school meals are manna from heaven. Orgabic, locally sourced meals of wonder. After one of those babies, nothing more than a cheese sarnie is required for a child's tea. In fact any more than a cheese sarnie and your child is in danger of being obese.

seeker Fri 21-Dec-12 10:52:18

Really? grin Must have missed that!

TotallyBS Fri 21-Dec-12 10:54:26

rabbit: My so-called contradiction is down to your misunderstand my point.

We have free education. Ok the quality varies but the point is that everybody has access to an education. Large parts of the UK is comp only so one can't even argue that the MC kids get to go to a GS.

My kids have access to a PC each. Both DP and I are graduates. We are well off. All the above gives my kids the opportunity to do better than the average WC kid BUT it does not make the excuse that WC kids underperform because they don't have the above.

wordfactory Fri 21-Dec-12 10:55:14

I don't think it is that seeker.

During the boom years, the middle were increasingly less likely to push through to certain jobs/industries. Far more likely to take mid level public sector jobs. Social mobility decreased overall.

Now there were all manner of reasons for this, but the education system certainly played its part, I think.

Festivelyfedup Fri 21-Dec-12 10:58:30

I've taught in both. IME hothouse = amazing all round education, failure not an option, success academically is a given but might be a few emotional scars in the process.

The other has a much lower calibre of pupil and makes a half arsed attempt to keep up with the hothouses whilst allowing laziness and apathy to be rife. Happier and more balanced children but not great if you want Oxbridge odds to be 1 in 4 for your child!

I'd go for the hothouse but make sure I can deal with the neurotic aspects your child might learn, but only if your child is already emotionally robust and very ambitious.

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 11:00:01

The fact that the middle is getting poorer in the US and the UK is largely attributable to globalisation. Old-established economies have lost a lot of middle-paying jobs, both to technology and to lower-wage economies.

We now need people to be much better educated than in the past in order to attract the kind of industry and innovation that will ensure they continue to enjoy a high standard of living. That is a huge challenge.

seeker Fri 21-Dec-12 11:00:39

"My kids have access to a PC each. Both DP and I are graduates. We are well off. All the above gives my kids the opportunity to do better than the average WC kid BUT it does not make the excuse that WC kids underperform because they don't have the above."

Sorry- I don't understand. Your children have the opportunity to do better than other working class kids because you're well off, but not being well off does not explain why other working class kids do less well.
I don't think anyone is saying that poverty is necessarily an excuse for poor children doing less well, but it's certainly an expectation.

I use poor, rather than working class, by the way, because I don't think they are synonyms.

seeker Fri 21-Dec-12 11:02:29

Sorry, meaning changing typo.
"I don't think anyone is saying that poverty is necessarily an excuse for poor children doing less well, but it's certainly an expectation. "

That should be explanation, not expectation. But it could have been a bit Freudian!

CaseyShraeger Fri 21-Dec-12 11:04:19

"My kids have access to a PC each. Both DP and I are graduates. We are well off. All the above gives my kids the opportunity to do better than the average WC kid BUT it does not make the excuse that WC kids underperform because they don't have the above."

Isn't that another contradiction, though? You accept that your DCs have extra opportunities so likely to outperform WC children, but reject the suggestion that a lack of those opportunities makes WC chikdren likely to underperform your DCs. It reads like a weird logic problem in which x is greater than y but y isn't less than x.

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 11:09:37

"I've taught in both. IME hothouse = amazing all round education, failure not an option, success academically is a given but might be a few emotional scars in the process.

The other has a much lower calibre of pupil and makes a half arsed attempt to keep up with the hothouses whilst allowing laziness and apathy to be rife."

Interesting, Festivelyfedup, and I think that you confirm what I, as a parent/observer, am seeing around me!

wordfactory Fri 21-Dec-12 11:10:41

I think globalisation is certainly at the heart of the shrinking middle job market. I've long been saying that I think the furture holds a much more extreme society of haves and have nots.

But that wasn't what I was thinking of really. More that it is shocking (or I find it so) that so few children of the middle didn't push out of it. They have a lot of advantages, not least speaking the intenational language of finance and business, and yet so few made the move out of the middle.

I think education and culture were definitely at play here.

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 11:12:56

There have to be the jobs for them to go to, though, and the support systems to allow them to go there. There are lots of structural rather than individual reasons for not pushing outwards and upwards. I think it's a bit harsh and judgemental to be "shocked" about something that is largely beyond individual control.

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 11:14:54

Not sure globalisation as capitalism and not sure it is education and culture so much as an aristocratic system which has gone into hiding rather than disappeared. Aristocrats have simply become capitalists in order to maintain the oligarchy.

Festivelyfedup Fri 21-Dec-12 11:18:39

Bonsoir the lazy half-arsed school I taught in was still a top 50 school in the country but the difference between top 5 and top 50 is enormous. I was shocked on every level of ability, attitude, behaviour etc. I'm not sure I would have worked out the size of the void between the two if I hadn't worked in both. You are obviously more discerning than I!

seeker Fri 21-Dec-12 11:21:28

Ah. If it was that lazy and half arsed how was it top 50?

wordfactory Fri 21-Dec-12 11:36:25

I think I am shocked by the paucity of ambition, given that this strata of society is not in any way impoverished.

And I do see the culture being part of it. The middle's mantra became all about happiness and self esteem and the education system reflected that of course. Coming from nothing, or less than nothing on a bad day, I find it all rather self indulgent and complacent.

MNet is a bird's eye view of it. Sqillions of posts from people who can't be arsed to do this or that. Who don't want to do anyhting hard or boring. Who want the world to revolove around them and their DC. Everything from exams to cooking xmas dinner is an affront to them!

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 11:41:50

I think that low standards are rife in Western countries - people have got comfortable and forget that their comforts were earned by the toil of others that preceded them and are frittering them away...

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 11:49:50

I don't think it is anything to do with a lack of ambition, it is a lack of opportunity. I don't think it is any coincidence that the middle has been being squeezed for generations in order to give tax breaks to millionaires and corporations that are inaccessible through "hard work" or ordinary educational advantages.

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 11:50:26

And people in the middle are becoming impoverished now in that they can't afford homes, heating, food etc

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 11:51:19

I think very, very few people are comfortable actually.

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 11:52:55

I disagree. You see them, waddling around shopping centres in an overfed, over-screened haze, bumbling through life...

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 11:56:53

Fat doesn't mean comfortable, it often actually means poor as does smoking and drinking.

SilentSplendidSun Fri 21-Dec-12 11:59:41

Oh my! A LOT of generalisations made here.

Hamishbear Fri 21-Dec-12 12:02:36

Rabbit I would argue any average 7 year old can look something up via google & so do basic research? You don't need to have a high IQ to be resourceful. I would argue many are surely lazy rather than incapable in the way you describe.

You are right though in that intelligence is composite - I am resourceful but naturally have little sense of logic. Our society does ascribe higher status to some forms of intelligence - quick thinking & a sense of logic enjoying higher status than EQ or stand alone creativity (in a school setting). Those than can ace CAT tests & recognise patterns & have good spatial skills & can recognise sequences & patterns are highly prized & deemed to have superior intellect.

wordfactory Fri 21-Dec-12 12:09:25

offred the middle are beocming less comfortable, that's for sure, but they have been highly priviledged compared to the vast majority of people around the world. So many opportunities...

Hamishbear Fri 21-Dec-12 12:09:58

Verbal reasoning is also seen as a sign of suitability for an academic school. This can be inculcated in any average child - a voracious reader will usually have a better vocab & a higher VR score than a child that rarely reads. Teachers frequently tell us their best writers are usually their best/widest readers. The quality of my writing improves as I read & digest more of the best quality literature etc. My basic intellect could be very average or relatively weak, it builds through exposure to the written word.

TotallyBS Fri 21-Dec-12 12:11:45

Casey: Why is my point so hard to understand?

In what way is not having access to the Internet or living in a nice house an excuse for being semi illiterate?

seeker Fri 21-Dec-12 12:15:57

Being poor, ill fed, living in an overcrowded inadequate housing with stressed and worried parents can certainly be an explanation for under achieving at school.

Not sure about "excuse"- that seems to imply" at least to me, some sort of value judgement.

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 12:19:34

Being rich but never seeing your parents who are too busy working to bother with you or provide meals or a tidy home also provides an explanation for underachievement. How many children grow up in perfect homes?

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 12:20:34

The poorest are privileged compared to some parts of the world, what's your point? There is always someone worse off because some people are dead!

wordfactory Fri 21-Dec-12 12:23:48

We were talking about the middle, not the poorest, and why they might squander the advantages and privileges they have.

offred you seem intent on saying they have none in the first place, whioch seems a little far fetched.

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 12:26:30

No I'm disagreeing with your assertion that the middle lack ambition to achieve and this is why they aren't accessing "top positions". There is no actual evidence to back it up, there is evidence of the consistent erosion of living standards though which has meant that now the middle are very often living in substandard cramped and cold conditions.

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 12:27:32

The poorest have privileges compared to some countries why do you not see them as squanderers of opportunity was my point btw?

TotallyBS Fri 21-Dec-12 12:27:55

That would explain all those poor under achieving Asian kids [inserts SARCASM emoticon]

As for me making value judgements, people who get judgy pants over how much homework other people's children get shouldn't be throwing around the same label.

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 12:28:55

Seriously not all Asian people are poor! FFS...

seeker Fri 21-Dec-12 12:36:57

I wasn't aiming the "excuse" thing at you in particular- I was just commenting on how there is a difference between explanations and excuses. And I think it's an important one in this context, but people sometimes seem to use the words interchangeably.

Is there actual hard evidence that poor Asian children do better at school in the UK than poor indigenous children? When the stqts are prpared do they cpmpare white and ethnic minority childrenof equal socio economic status, or is it just on ethnicity? It's important to remember thwt lots of immigrant families are middle class.I sometimes wonder if the stereotype of the hard working first generation immigrant fighting their way to then top is just that- a stereotype based on one nor two that did. Certainly you don't see a significant number of non white people among the movers and shakers.

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 12:43:41

I think some cultures do believe in pushing children more and this will achieve better exam results, probably get them into "better" unis, possibly mean they end up with "better" jobs although not necessarily so, but at what cost? A job is not a whole life and buying a privileged accreditation for your child so they can access a privileged uni doesn't always work out, some children don't get into Oxbridge and struggle to cope in normal uni, lots struggle to cope with normal life whether they get in or not, I think and have seen, they also often hold tight to the idea they are special and better and find it hard to deal with "failure" which is often set at a much higher level than for others...

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 12:44:48

Often because their levels of achievement are set much higher than others I mean.

TotallyBS Fri 21-Dec-12 12:45:10

Offred: Gee, thanks for telling me. There I was thinking that all Indians live in poverty and that there are no Indian doctors, businessmen, JPs or MPs [rolls eyes at patronizing poster]

I have met more than my fair share of professionals who are the children of poor and often illiterate immigrants. So I can't really empathize with those who argue that the poor are uneducated because they have been dealt a shit socio economic hand .

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 12:48:20

Because India is the only country in Asia and the exceptions prove the rule. It isn't a fair comparison between illiterate from a country without universal education necessarily and illiterate here.

TotallyBS Fri 21-Dec-12 12:50:14

seeker: I wasn't taking notes as to who, what, when it was said but here on MN such reports have been referred to in the past.

I am not saying that ALL poor Asian kids go on to become doctors etc. I'm just going by my very unscientific observation of the Real World that enough do achieve academic and professional success to debunk the agreement.

TotallyBS Fri 21-Dec-12 12:50:58

I meant 'argument'

Offred Fri 21-Dec-12 12:53:34

Illiterate Asian does not mean poor either.

seeker Fri 21-Dec-12 12:58:04

So how many children of poor immigrant families do you know who go on th be doctors? I know children of immigrants who have gone on to academic or professional success, but they are largely middle class. Often, as would be expected for someone of my generation, Asian people from African countries.

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 13:05:20

In Paris when I was working in a consulting firm I met second generation immigrants who had benefited from the French educational system (which was more egalitarian in my generation than it is now for my children's generation). One particular friend of mine was of Algerian Berber origin. Neither of his parents could read or write in their mother-tongue or any other language when they arrived in France shortly before his birth; his father died when he was young and his mother lived out a very simple life in social housing. My friend went right through the school system and to one of France's top grandes écoles and is now an entrepreneur, though his three siblings have led much more modest lives.

TotallyBS Fri 21-Dec-12 13:06:40

Offered: I was referring to Indians living in the UK where they have the same access to education as the so called indigenous poor population.

I was at school in a predominantly white working class area. The swots were invariably Asian. When I moved on to the college of FE the A level students were predominantly Asian despite the area being predominately white (most of my white friends finished their education at 16)

At the time I didn't think anything of it but later on, as an adult, it did make me look back and think how little we valued education compared to the Asians. To many of them education was to means to escape poverty.

seeker Fri 21-Dec-12 13:13:58

Does anyone knownifnthe stats are collected by socio economic as well as ethnic status? Because saying that asians do better is pretty meaningless if we don't know the wider context.

TotallyBS Fri 21-Dec-12 13:14:38

.... anyway, I kind of derailed my own point which is that with free education, council housing and benefits there is no longer an excuse to blame your lot in life on The System. Parents should take responsibility for the early years. At a certain stage in your life, you the teenager should take responsibility for your life instead of blaming the rich or the middle classes.

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 13:16:03

seeker - of course statistics are corrected for other variables. They wouldn't be statistics if they weren't!

There was a report in the newspaper yesterday about Bangladeshi girls outperforming all other groups at GCSE - all other variables taken into consideration.

TotallyBS Fri 21-Dec-12 13:16:35

seeker: Do you really need stats to tell you that your GP, hospital doctor or pharmacist is Indian?

Xenia Fri 21-Dec-12 13:35:30

The term hothouse tends to be used by parents whose children failed to get into the said school as their IQ is too low or didn't sit because never in a month of Sundays would they have passed.

seeker Fri 21-Dec-12 13:39:20

No, totally, I don't. (leaving aside minor quibbles about whether he is actually Indian, or from some other bitof the sub continent) but if I am discussing the effects of poverty and ethnicity on educational attainment, I do need statistics to tell me whether he is the child of two other doctors who grew up in a comfortable leafy suburb and went to independent school then Cambridge, or whether he is the first of his family ever to go to school, grew up in a flat with 7 other children, one subsistence wage and went to the local "notice to improve" comprehensive.

seeker Fri 21-Dec-12 13:43:20

"seeker - of course statistics are corrected for other variables. They wouldn't be statistics if they weren't!"

Not all statistic are! That's why the famous quotation "there are lies...." etc remains apposite.

JoanByers Fri 21-Dec-12 13:49:54

There are lots of statistics, not just from the UK, but from across the globe, that show, for instance, that there are huge difference between ethnic groups.

For instance in the UK Chinese children do the best in GCSEs, better than white children. In the US the average income of Asian Americans is higher than white Americans. Black, Bangladeshi and Pakistani children perform poorest in school exams in the UK.

At this point in the development of the UK achievement is not about poverty, either by parents or schools lacking resources, but endemic cultural problems among certain groups, i.e. lower income white children, black children (and even here there are substantial differences between African and Caribbean children, the former outperforming the latter), and so on.

Xenia Fri 21-Dec-12 13:51:02

The level of achievement at school is pretty well known - Chinese girls are top, then boys, then I think Indian etc then white girls and bottom is white boys. Afro Caribbean boys tend not to do well either.

I have done careers evenings at schools and Indian parents will take their children to 4 careers stalls only - medicine, law, accountancy, dentistry. That is not unwise. They are really interesting well paid professions and a good start even if you go into something else later. I am not sure what point we are making about race though. Immigrants of whatever colour work much harder usually because they are the ones who made the effort to move just as an English person moving to NZ probably works harder than English people at home - you are forging a new life.

If your parent value education then you tend to as a teenager.

orangeberries Fri 21-Dec-12 13:52:36

I am not Asian but I am an immigrant from a poor country, who lived in real poverty as a child and my opinion is that expectations are so different here in certain social groups.

We were expected to work hard, we were expected to help at home, help the extended family and do well at school, be respectful to our elders and parents and anyone older than us and make our families proud. The thing is there was no peer pressure to do anything else, as everyone had a similar expectations placed on them. There was none of this "I will pay you a pound" to do your homework or wash my car business. You just did what you were asked to do.

We would have been terrified to stray from those "codes" and bring disrespect to our family. I think that although at times it felt suffucating, this upbringing served us all incredibly well and I am happy to report that many of us achieved great things despite being poor and many of us having very low IQs!!!

JoanByers Fri 21-Dec-12 13:55:14

My Grandma is forever telling me that intelligence runs in her family.

She says that when she was at school the headmistress said 'You'd best not sit the scholarship exam, because your mother couldn't afford to send you'. And her brother apparently was very bright. So she left school at 13 for a life of labour.

She is decidedly working class, grew up in god knows where with 7 other children. Her children all went to grammar school, and university (Leeds, Oxford). Her grand children both went to Cambridge.

And now she is very pleased that the circle is complete, so to speak, that her great-grandchildren are at private schools, when she as a child couldn't afford to go to state school.

She won't hear a word spoken about deprivation or poverty, not in this country.

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 13:56:58

At university, many years ago, I shared a flat with a Chinese girl - a law student. She had grade 8 piano and violin and had done loads of ballet, spoke French etc and had been to private school on a bursary (her single mother ran a take-away). She had definitely had lots of educational opportunities and was used to hard work and had lots of As at O and A level.

But she wasn't very "bright". I'm sure she had many more accreditations to her name than most of her contemporaries, but it didn't mean she was a bright spark.

orangeberries Fri 21-Dec-12 14:04:37

Exactly Bonsoir, you don't need to be very bright to have lots of qualifications and do well at school/university. You just need to work hard - only my opinion of course!!

JoanByers Fri 21-Dec-12 14:06:05

> The level of achievement at school is pretty well known - Chinese girls are top, then boys, then I think Indian etc then white girls and bottom is white boys. Afro Caribbean boys tend not to do well either.

You missed out Bangladeshi and Pakistani children.

Here is a table for KS3:


Overall 74% of children met the required standard. Among White British this was 75%. 83% of Indian. 66% of Pakistani, 69% of Bangladeshi. 82% of Chinese. Gypsy and traveller a pitiful 23%. 68% of Black children. FSMs just 43%.

The children meeting Level 7 were 17% of all Chinese children (including 21% of Chinese girls), but just 4%/5% of Bangladeshi/Pakistani children.

Gunznroses Fri 21-Dec-12 14:11:40

Its interesting how "black children" are all just lumped together by their skin colour, the fact that there are many different countries within this group is totally non important.

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 14:14:55

You have to work hard, but, crucially, you need your sausage meat to be squeezed through the right casing IYSWIM. Put a child on a track to Grade 8 violin when they are 4, and they will get there with the right tuition and practice.

rabbitstew Fri 21-Dec-12 14:18:15

I think it is all down to expectation. A lot of people in the West after the 2nd World War expected that technology and a desire to avoid further conflicts would ultimately make their lives less stressful, easier and more pleasant, so that more consideration could be given to quality of life, there would be less need for naked aggression and competition between people and fewer people damaged by difficult lives of squalor and hard labour. Unfortunately, particularly with an ever expanding world population, we still don't have enough resources to go around ever to live up to this Utopia, we never seem to be happy with the level we have got to in any event, nobody ever really considered what people could actually do in a world where technology did most of the work and there is always something else being pushed on us that will supposedly make life easier or more exciting but which actually just increases the frenetic speed at which everything changes for change's sake, without any huge benefit to the majority of people who find the sand shifting under their feet.

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 14:19:46

<shoots self>

rabbitstew Fri 21-Dec-12 14:24:59

Why does the shooting occur inside <>?

Bonsoir Fri 21-Dec-12 14:25:51

The brackets are for an action as opposed to an opinion (post).

rabbitstew Fri 21-Dec-12 14:28:08

Glad to see you didn't manage to kill yourself, then!... grin

Xenia Fri 21-Dec-12 14:30:53

On orange's post that is why I think it's great my children share/have shared classrooms with those kinds of children where everyone behaves at home, they children work very hard and education is seen as a route to success out of poverty.

So what is our conclusion? One person's hot housing at home is another one's normal encouragement. One parent's tiger parenting is another's abuse. That you can do so little you neglect a child and you never even bother to hear it read and at the other extreme you can produce a boring automaton able to pass exams but who hasn't had enough time to play. Most of us are somewhere between the two extremes.

CaseyShraeger Fri 21-Dec-12 15:29:53

TotallyBS, where did "totally illiterate" come into it? I was talking (as I thought you were in the post I referenced) about under- or over- performing relative to children of different socio-economic status, not total (or even functional) illiteracy. And I still don't see how Fred can be educationally advantaged relative to Bob without Bob's being educationally disadvantaged relative to Fred.

TotallyBS Fri 21-Dec-12 15:46:50

Xenia: I accept that many of the top jobs go to private school / Oxbridge types because of contacts and bias but you was responding to the post about how comp kids do better at university.

Xenia Fri 21-Dec-12 15:53:12

I am not sure they do anyway. I don't think if you took my three children's graduation years the state school pupils were the ones getting firsts. In fact children of state grammars apparently do better than those from comps. It might be comp children who have socialist left with teachers who despite good universities tend to encourage them not to go to good places because of class war issues so the very very few comp children who do apply are a very determined minority who do well in the exams which of course is not the same as doing well in life.

I don't think the thread was about private schools at all though was it? It was about this perjorative term hot housing which is used by parents who presumably think it's best never to read to children and leave them to their own devices and their pure genius will somehow develop.

I certainly think children who have two parents in very successful high paid jobs who adore their work are going to get a great work ethic and do better than two benefits claimants or housewife mothers at home who are giving a message that you live off the state or a man.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 21-Dec-12 18:13:54

I do not think there is such a thing as a "hothouse" school in the UK ;
there may be schools where the combination of parent and school becomes a hothouse for some pupils - which is where I would hope that any professional teachers (in state or private) would take steps to ensure that the child achieved to the best of their ability rather than collapsing under the pressure.

My views of "top" schools are rather tainted by having spent a year retaking my A levels at a London Crammer.
You name the top school, I'll name you the pupil who ended up needing to retake.
And as that crammer got amazing grades out of all of us (despite the partying and pub bans) there was clearly an issue with the schools not the individuals.

rabbitstew Fri 21-Dec-12 20:35:49

Xenia - maybe your insistence that any relationship should have both partners doing well paid, full time jobs so that neither can come up with the childish and spurious notion that one member of the couple is living off the other, rather than both relying on each other, is why you are a divorced woman.

rabbitstew Fri 21-Dec-12 20:52:28

I mean, there is nothing in the way you describe relationships between men and women that indicates any kind of reciprocality. You are just clones of each other, effectively taking on the same role as each other and both spurning anything you can pay someone else a pittance to do for you. And heaven forbid that your dh should ever prove himself to be a pathetic weakling who has to "live off you" for a while, or earn less than you, because, of course, you are what you earn.

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