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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My DC go to a state school by the way.

<Dons hard hat>.

happygardening Sun 06-Jan-13 13:51:28

"It is complicated, but much is due to their 'habitus' (the way of being in the world) so the way that they conduct themselves in the interviews (not their intellectual ability) is different to that of the interviewer. This difference marks them as not really a 'fit' for Oxbridge."
An interesting point creamteas . This is my experience of grammar schools and may have a bearing on their "habitus"
A few years ago I was employed to sit with a yr10/11 child in every lesson for a couple of months (covering mat leave) at a well regarded grammar school. I hesitate to use the word "top" but it was certainly very well regarded by the mainly middle class parents living in a country positively groaning in grammar schools who sent their children there and Ive just checked the results are pretty impressive putting it up there amongst other well regarded grammars.
I sat in every lesson bar PE my overall impression most parents will be pleased to hear is that the children were generally well behaved and interested the was an obvious culture of its fine to to be academic and aim for top grades and the teachers were mainly committed and enthusiastic about their subjects. But what struck me was the lack of debate/discussion. The children were asked questions and and by and large most participated in this but there appeared to very little debate in any subjects and teachers went unchallenged. In my subject the teacher at one time was clearly making an out of date statement (not a criticism Ive know university lectures do the same thing) and anyone who reads a broad sheet should would have know this but not one child even queried this.
In contrast my DS at his prep aged 7 was was the captain of a team asked to support the notion "This house believes that fireworks should be banned" (which he didn't but still they won the debate) and this was not an isolated event the children all through their prep years were encouraged to debate in this way and also question the teachers; my children have been bored rigid with my degree subject but this did mean that they frequently "corrected' the teacher of the subject! Now at senior school debating/discussing is a regular occurrence and positively encouraged in and out of lessons and particularly in the daily Div (this is not RS) lesson.
I know Im going to now read a whole raft of snippy comments and this is only my experience but whilst those of you continue to bash independent education and all that it does instead of looking and learning from the good things places like Oxford and Cambridge will continue to take a vast number from a small group of independent schools and the number as these schools stats show will carry on rising yr on yr and some very able state educated children will struggle to have a the required "habitus' and that this means they are not really "fit' for Oxbridge..

rabbitstew Sun 06-Jan-13 14:25:02

Still, all the superior debating practice that David Cameron et al have had doesn't appear to have made them any better at actually running the country, rather than just talking about it. Maybe it's the ability to argue any point, whether or not you believe in it, that's part of the problem?... grin

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 14:27:19

'The fact that these views exists is not the fault of the top five schools who send so many. Maybe the likes of five instead of being quite so chippy about them you need to look at what you as a teacher can do for the children you are involved with. '

I have 2 points to make in response to this:

1.) You have no idea what sort of things I do and have done for the children I have been involved with over my career in general and specifically to help them get into Oxbridge. As it happens, it's a considerable amount and yet you presume to tell me that 'I need to look at what I do'. Why do you think that's acceptable.

2.) Linked to the above, the kneejerk reaction is that the reason that more kids are not getting into Oxbridge is that it must be either their fault or the fault of their teachers or schools.

If you believe this, it is more evidence that you are blatantly disregarding what the evidence including the admissions data produced by these universities themselves, tells us.

It is for all sorts of reasons to do with the institutions themselves, their admissions procedures, their position in society as a whole and social attitudes, prejudices and so on.

It's a bit like saying that by ensuring your own kids have a healthy diet, you are combating the obesity crisis. Well, yes you are but your isolated efforts are hardly going to make a difference to the stats as a whole or to the children of parents who don't or don't know how to care. And before you say it, yes I know that's not an excuse for individuals not to try and they, like me, can and do.

But it is grossly unfair and downright stupid to suggest that individual teachers, working in isolation, have the power and the responsibility to change centuries of social divisions, prejudice and power relations.

The main responsibility for that in terms of Oxbridge admissions has to be Oxbridge and it's not just about tinkering at the edges. It's about getting rid of all the barriers that are well understood to prevent access to working class kids - everything from the antiquated, ridiculous uniforms to the antiquated, ridiculous interviews.

rabbitstew Sun 06-Jan-13 14:30:04

But if an institution is extremely successful as it is, you aren't going to get it to stick its neck out willingly and change itself for you.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 14:32:55

But, as is evident on this thread, there's a great deal of ambivalence about the whole thing. On the one hand, people say that Oxbridge must make itself more accessible, on the other people say they quite like the things that make it inaccessible (be that subfusc or intereviews or whatever).

Or else, they completely deny there's a problem and say that it's perfectly possible to get in if you're clever enough or motivated enough ignoring the fact, that statistically you also need to be white and have come from a private school or at least a grammar school

happygardening Sun 06-Jan-13 14:37:54

five you mentioned (I thought ) that you work in an independent school and you also mentioned teaching it would not be ridiculous to assume that your not a ambulance driver or a fireman but some kind of teacher.
'I need to look at what I do'.
I dont think I was making that comment specifically at you.
I as Ive stated on the previous thread am not "blatantly disregarding what the evidence including the admissions data produced by these universities themselves, tells us." I very much accept this data.
" Linked to the above, the kneejerk reaction is that the reason that more kids are not getting into Oxbridge is that it must be either their fault or the fault of their teachers or schools."
Ok why are they not getting into Oxbridge if the schools and teachers are completely blameless?

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 14:38:03

'you aren't going to get it to stick its neck out willingly and change itself for you'

Exactly, Oxbridge are very good at saying all the right things and ticking all the right boxes and I'm sure there are people who are part of the system who do genuinely and passionately want it to become more accessible but, then there's the subfusc and the interviews and all the rest of it.

And there's also the fact (which is not the fault of Oxbridge) that the inequalities are already entrenched not just by age 16 but by the age of 4!!

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 14:45:55

'Ok why are they not getting into Oxbridge if the schools and teachers are completely blameless '

I thought this is what we have, or some of us have, been addressing at length.

By and large the areas that get most kids into Oxbridge are the wealthiest. Surrey gets loads in, poor areas in the north don't. Private schools get loads in, and four private schools (Eton, Westminster, St Paul's girls and boys) more than any others, and state comprehensives don't.

There is a pattern there isn't there? It makes me sad and frustrated that individual teachers and schools are thought to have the power and responsibility to single-handedly change social structures that have been in place for centuries.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 14:48:58

'But if an institution is extremely successful as it is, you aren't going to get it to stick its neck out willingly and change itself for you. '

Also, its success comes from its exclusivity and it also really helps your funding and perpetuates your success if your students bring shed loads of money with them.

Which is sort of why asking how we can get a couple more working class kids assimilated by these elite institutions isn't really the right question anyway.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 14:50:52

It's interesting that if you look at stats for health and mortality rates you see the same sort of patterns (health and mortality rates are better in wealthy areas) but nobody blames doctors for this and nobody assumes doctors have the power or responsibility to change these patterns either (even though I'm sure they should and do do their best).

grovel Sun 06-Jan-13 14:51:07

fivecandles, I agree there is a problem. Not sure I agree that the fault lies squarely with Oxbridge.

What follows is an anecdote. I have no way of knowing whether it is a one-off.

We have a gardener (3 hours a week). His son was at a Comprehensive locally which had never sent a student to Oxbridge. He is a very bright mathematician. Oxford's outreach programme found him. He got offered a place and was thrilled. He very nearly passed up on it after his extended family gave him grief about "becoming too posh for them" and "thinking himself too good for Reading" (the closest university to his home). Happily his father persuaded him to go - but it was a close-run thing.

happygardening Sun 06-Jan-13 14:55:41

So five what your saying is that these five schools are so successful becasue they have wealthy parents and that teachers are completely blameless.
Interestingly because that is my experience of teachers in the sate sector they are completely blameless for any deficiencies in your child's education. I think I might change my occupation because I and my colleagues are accountable for everything we do and if anything goes wrong the culture now is that it is automatically assumed that its our fault until proven otherwise.
With this attitude in the state sector its not surprising so many turn to the independent sector and why those with money and power send their children to the top five because certainly in those I think you'll find the culture to be slightly different. These teacher seem to be more accountable for their actions and don't endlessly shift the blame onto the child or their parents. .

happygardening Sun 06-Jan-13 14:58:47

"blames doctors"
Sorry to shatter your dreams there is an ever increasing blame culture in the NHS doctors once immune from it are now also being increasingly scrutinised and being held accountable for their actions at all levels. Your right they cant affect every aspect of health but now all have targets they are expected to meet.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 15:01:54

I'm sure it's not a one off and there are many thousands such stories. Some people will think that Oxbridge is too posh for them (not helped by the subfusc and the fact that 30% of Eton goes there etc etc), some people will thing that they won't fit in (and by the way they might be right about that), some people will make what might be a very difficult decision that they can't afford to move away from home (I've taught many students who for cultural and/or financial reasons would not even consider a university which would entail a move from the family home) or that the courses at Oxbridge are not appropriate for them.

As I've said, I think altogether too much time and importance is attached to 2 universities which will only ever serve a minority of our young people and will always be exclusive and elitist. Personally, I think we should be putting our time, energies and money into improving education, life chances and society in general for kids in general and disadvantaged kids in particular. It's far too late to start doing a little bit of outreach at 16 because by then the kids with Oxbridge potential are almost certainly going to be the ones who are privileged anyway or who have done amazingly well in spite of difficult circumstances.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 15:03:36

'teachers are completely blameless. '

I find the vocabulary of 'blame and blamelessness' incredibly unhelpful and even hostile to start with.

Of course, teachers are not to 'blame' for social divisions and poverty in this country. And there really isn't very much they can do about this either.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 15:09:35

'because I and my colleagues are accountable for everything we do '

I wonder if you're just looking for a fight for the sake of it happy.

Of course teachers are accoutable for everything we do. We are accountable to our students and must do our best by them from ensuring they get the best possible exam results to making sure their special needs are catered for to getting them into Oxbridge. The vast majority of teachers take their responsibilities very, very seriously.

But we are not miracle workers and we don't have any more responsibility or power to change SOCIAL STRUCTURES and improve child poverty than any other group of people.

I do find it bizarre that people are so ready to have a pop and point the finger at teachers but nowhere really on this thread has anybody thought to take the institutions which really do have the power to effect change - Oxbridge to task.

Did nobody find the stats on the admissions of black people truly shocking??

If that was the police force they would and have been accused of institutionalised racism.

Or is the racial bias at Oxbridge somehow the fault of the teachers of comprehensive schools too?

At what point are you Mumsnetters going to actually suggest that perhaps Oxbridge and the Government might do a little bit more to make themselves more accessible?

It really is bizarre.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 15:13:05

'there is an ever increasing blame culture in the NHS '

Maybe. But you never get threads about it do you and I've not seen anything in the press or in general conversation about doctors being 'to blame' or having any sort of responsibility for discrepancies between mortality rates and health in different regions.

I'm just saying it's interesting that teachers are seen to have the sorts of responsibility and power for hugely significant social divisions and structures above and beyond any other group of people (even, sometimes including the Government, because they also are quick to blame teachers for failings clearly caused by their own policy).

Mominatrix Sun 06-Jan-13 15:14:09

Fivecandles - the only way you are going cause a more equal distribution is to find a way to improve academic attainment in the lower socio-economic classes is to not at the university entrance end, or even the grammar/comprehensive/high school end, but at the 0-5 year end. Being rich in itself does not necessarily improve chances of entry into a top university, but having involved, responsive, educated parents with very high expectations will. All of this shouting about at the later stages of education belie a sad fact that pound-for-pound, the greatest impact on future outcomes of intervention is at the beginning stages, not the latter. This is an interesting read, and this statement is particularly damning - “We have found overwhelming evidence that children’s life chances are most heavily predicated on their development in the first five years of life”.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 15:19:19

Totally agree with that Mominatrix, and it's a point I have been trying to make.

There are things that could be done later on though. Getting rid of interviews as almost every other university has done (precisely to avoid class, gender, ethnic bias) would make a significant difference too.

My point about students (often from ethnic minorities) who will not leave the family home is also a very important and neglected point. I'm not saying there's anything that can be done about it but it's hardly the fault of teachers is it?

Bonsoir Sun 06-Jan-13 15:19:30

fivecandles - "Of course, teachers are not to 'blame' for social divisions and poverty in this country. And there really isn't very much they can do about this either."

I agree very much with this and I think it is very wrong when anyone (including teachers) puts the onus for social reengineering on schools and teachers.

However, I also think you are wildly overstating the case for privilege being the only route to privilege. There has been massive introspection and self-examination by élite universities in recent years to widen access and it has not been a dismal, outright failure - on the contrary. But the fact remains that a certain level of general human development (not just pure academic skills) is necessary in order to participate in and be a respected member of élite intellectual groups. It is largely that "general human development" that children from less privileged backgrounds lack. It is not the business of universities to teach those skills in remedial classes.

Yellowtip Sun 06-Jan-13 15:20:00

five 30% of Eton is still only one or two per college per year spread across Cambridge and Oxford. That's not a lot. It's certainly not wall to wall, is it?

You seem unreasonably hung up on subfusc. happy has a DN who goes to formal hall a lot, so wears it a lot (an awful lot smile). It's frequently not worn at all outside of matriculation and exams.

happy that sounds a very dull school indeed. The best grammars won't be like that at all. The whole focus in the best of the grammars is on thinking critically and asking as well as being asked challenging questions, in all subjects and all of the time. And there's no reason why all schools shouldn't ape this mode. It's hard work for the teachers though and especially difficult where the pupils aren't keen on learning and are more focussed on mucking around.

Yellowtip Sun 06-Jan-13 15:23:45

I find it really out of order to impute institutionalised class warfare, sexism and racism to Oxford and Cambridge dons. It's crass, it really is. You undermine everything you say with such ludicrous statements.

Yellowtip Sun 06-Jan-13 15:24:35

model, not mode.

Welovecouscous Sun 06-Jan-13 15:25:33

I am an Oxbridge grad with all A Levels at grade A attained at a state school.

We intend to state school because we think the benefits are mixing with a genuinely socially diverse intake and having the same educational experience as the vast majority of peers.

I was at a comp with some excellent teachers and debate was thoroughly encouraged.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 15:28:37

FGS you are being deliberately obtuse, Yellow. The percentage is what's significant 30% from one highly less than 1% for most other schools is quite telling. The fact that 5 schools make up the total number of the other 4000 odd is also quite telling. I'm sorry if you don't understand that. As for the subfusc, it wasn't me that brought it up and it's you and not me that's brought it up again now but I see it as ONE of many symbols indicating that Oxford has failed to move with the times or make itself accessible to working class kids. No, it's not as important as the fact that there are no black staff and that 50% of kids have come from private schools (when less than 10% of all kids are educated in private schools) but it's one more barrier.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 15:31:16

That should say 30% from ONE highly selective, fee paying school contrasted with less than 1% from most other schools.

Bonsoir Sun 06-Jan-13 15:33:10

fivecandles - the whole point is that the raw statistics do not tell the whole story (are not "quite telling"), despite your shallow assumption that they do.

They make great headline material, if you like tabloid newspapers...

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 15:38:45

'I find it really out of order to impute institutionalised class warfare, sexism and racism to Oxford and Cambridge dons'

I've not said anything about sexism and I've not said it's the fault of Oxbridge dons.

However, it is wrong to suggest that the fact that you are twice as likely to get into Cambridge if you are white rather than black and have a 1 in 3 chance as opposed to a 1 in 5 chance if you are black at Oxford and that there is not a single black person out of all the academic and lab staff at Cambridge, is insignificant.

I don't honestly know why you're being so defensive, Yellow.

Most institutions, including Oxford and Cambridge, constantly monitor their intake and equal opportunities policies.

Oxford and Cambridge themselves recognize that there is a problem based on their own admissions data.

Bonsoir Sun 06-Jan-13 15:41:04

Shock! Horror! Tabloid latest! 100% of parents who give birth are female! Government action urgently required to ensure equality and instigate quotas to ensure 50% of parents who give birth are male!

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 15:44:04

I don't know why some of you are so ready to let them off the hook and blame teachers instead. It's not because of teachers that white kids have twice as much chance as getting in as black kids to Cambridge now is it?

creamteas Sun 06-Jan-13 15:45:58

Overall there is a gradient is education achievement with those at the bottom getting worse results (from primary onwards). Obviously no university can do anything about that (nor can schools alone - but that is another topic).

But when you look at applicants who achieve top grades - those at the bottom are less likely to be successful in getting places at interview than others. This should be addressed.

As an example (which is not generalisable in itself, but illustrates the issue) last year, my DCs comp had 4 students who got through to Oxbridge interviews for science degrees. Only one was offered a place. The parent's of the student who was offered a place are both professors at a local uni. The other three were better at the subjects in terms of exam success, but did not have the same social background. This is the most probable explanation for their lack of offers.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 15:46:27

Not really sure what your pont is Bonsoir. I don't think the tabloids tend to get their knickers in too much of a twist about who does and doesn't get into Oxbridge. And, of course, self evidently stats don't tell the whole story that doesn't mean we should belittle their significance. Some of you want to ask yourelves why you're quite so willing to defend Oxford and Cambridge. Are they paying you?

Bonsoir Sun 06-Jan-13 15:49:00

creamteas - interesting about the professional background of the successful candidate.

Here in France there are perennial noises about the disproportionate success of teacher's children in gaining entrance to the élite prépas and grandes écoles. It was found a few years back that 50% of students at one of the most prestigious engineering grandes écoles had at least one teacher parent.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 15:49:09

But creamteas, the reports I've linked to say that the disparity exists even where the grades are the same.

It's also been well documented (and universities are perfectly well aware of it) that kids from private schools are outperformed by kids from state schools where at universities even where they have achieved the same grades at A Level.

Bonsoir Sun 06-Jan-13 15:51:01

The point is: stop getting so excited about statistics, fivecandles. Yes, you. Do the analysis (with data) behind them rather than second guessing the reasons, which universities, government and all sorts of others did several decades ago.

You are to widening access what Xenia is to feminism: a product of the 1970s!

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 15:51:17

'Pupils from comprehensive schools are likely to do better at university than children educated at private or grammar schools with similar A-level results, according to research carried out for the government and published today.

A five-year study tracking 8,000 A-level candidates found that a comprehensive pupil with the grades BBB is likely to perform as well in their university degree as an independent or grammar school pupil with 2 As and a B.'

www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/dec/03/state-school-pupils-university

creamteas Sun 06-Jan-13 15:51:26

I think it is really telling that on a regular basis in August a white, middle-class three A* student sells a story to the Times/Telegraph pointing out how their application to Oxford or Cambridge was erroneously rejected.

Kids from working-class backgrounds would never do this. They do not have the same sense of entitlement.......

creamteas Sun 06-Jan-13 15:52:50

* the reports I've linked to say that the disparity exists even where the grades are the same*

yes, and that is what I was saying as well.... (or at least I thought I was)

Bonsoir Sun 06-Jan-13 15:54:03

creamteas - they don't sell their story, you know. A journalist from The Daily Telegraph goes looking for them (easy, because they will be in their social circle) and the story is put on the front page - it's what the readers want to read and what sells the newspaper.

Mominatrix Sun 06-Jan-13 15:54:54

five - I think that one study showed this, but at least on other has demonstrated this not to be true.

creamteas Sun 06-Jan-13 15:56:14

Bonsoir it is not about who goes to who - I think you are missing the point......

Bonsoir Sun 06-Jan-13 15:57:25

I went to university after a non-standard school/curriculum/school leaving diploma and, purely anecdotally, I would say I made more "progress" within the system than other students with A-level backgrounds, especially those from the best schools. The fact is that very good schools are very savvy about strategies to optimise grades, but the law of diminishing returns operates too...

Bonsoir Sun 06-Jan-13 15:58:10

I'm not missing the point, creamteas, but it is not about children feeling entitled - it's about what sells newspapers to parents!

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 15:58:59

If your candidate was chosen on the basis of his social background and not his exam results then that is shocking isn't it? And also contradicts those people who say that getting into Oxbridge is just about being intelligent (at odds with what the stats tell us and with what I'm arguing).

And more reason why interviews should be (and have been) banned because they allow this sort of prejudice.

So, the stats paint one picture (that you're at an advantage if your parents are wealthy) and your example just reinforces that.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 15:59:58

I must go now anyway. I have work to do.

Bonsoir Sun 06-Jan-13 16:00:53

Children with teacher (or academic) parents have "insider" information and "insider" human behaviours that make them more attractive candidates because they will know better how to get the most out of their studies. Is that shocking?

happygardening Sun 06-Jan-13 16:04:18

"happy that sounds a very dull school indeed. The best grammars won't be like that at all"
As I said considered by the parents to be one of those best grammar schools. It doesn't matter whether its state or independent ed we as parents dont really know what goes on on a day to basis. i was in an unusual position and just happened to see what really happens.
"I wonder if you're just looking for a fight for the sake of it happy."
I have to say you seem very keen to pick a fight. I do not deny that these issues re Oxbridge entry exist but will not accept that teachers play no part in their existence. If there are more out there like you saying they are intimidated by gowns and continue to perpetuate the myth that Oxford and Cambridge is full of privileged Etoninans who you imply are not there because of their academic ability it is hardly surprising that so few working class children go. In the mean time the top five keep sending their pupils.
"But you never get threads about it do you and I've not seen anything in the press or in general conversation about doctors being 'to blame' or having any sort of responsibility for discrepancies between mortality rates and health in different regions."
You obviously don't read the same papers I read or listen to the same radio programmes.

creamteas Sun 06-Jan-13 16:24:01

Bonsoir Children with teacher (or academic) parents have "insider" information and "insider" human behaviours that make them more attractive candidates

It doesn't have to be teachers, the parents could have been judges, consultants or any other top of their vocation professionals.

They are only more attractive because the (top) middle-classes have been allowed to decide what is 'best' - in other words they use power to retain privilege.

Bonsoir Sun 06-Jan-13 16:27:48

creamteas - really? How do you know?

I ask because in France there have been studies to examine the correlation between teacher parents and children's academic success and the studies have most definitely established causation.

Of course, teachers are not rich... privileged... influential... but they do have insider information.

Bonsoir Sun 06-Jan-13 16:29:50

And in France teachers decide what's "best" in the educational system which is why it is going down the drain.

MordionAgenos Sun 06-Jan-13 16:30:28

The root of the accessibility issue is applications. If kids don't apply then they have NO CHANCE. That is why I take so much issue with the negativity being expressed by people who claim to be teachers (or at any rate who claim to work in schools) in this and the other thread. It's easy to point to dodgy stats (all stats are dodgy in some way, if you don't understand that then I'm not going to waste hours explaining this to you - but anything can be proved with judiciously selected numbers and (most importantly) parameters) to dissuade a kid from even thinking they have a chance. It is also easy to point to real life examples of people who are in no way exceptional who came from the sorts of background you cite as having no chance - but who got in. And did just fine. Which is going to be more inspiring? The naysaying or the positive example?

I was particularly disgusted with the 'they think they won't fit in (and they may not)' comment. Who is any of us to tell anyone they will or won't fit in anywhere?

creamteas Sun 06-Jan-13 16:31:36

Because of all the studies on cultural capital and education that have been conducted in the UK in the last 30 years.......

Bonsoir Sun 06-Jan-13 16:37:56

Curious. Teachers/academics don't usually get classes in the same socio-economic class as consultants or judges.

Bonsoir Sun 06-Jan-13 16:38:08

classed

Mominatrix Sun 06-Jan-13 16:43:32

I think that the case in France is quite different, Bonsoir. Teachers are foncionnaires and wield a greater amount of influence over top school allocations and grading than a teacher here. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a student at Henri IV who was not a child of a foncionnaire.

creamteas Sun 06-Jan-13 16:46:52

Well that depends of which stratification system you are using doesn't it......

In the UK, if using the NS-SEC all professionals are in 1 or 2 Analytic Classes.

Bonsoir Sun 06-Jan-13 16:47:58

I think that's a bit of false generalisation, Mominatrix. We have lots of friends with children at Henri IV and Louis Le Grand, and plenty of friends who went there themselves, and not a fonctionnaire in sight!

Bonsoir Sun 06-Jan-13 16:55:32

Not very refined then, is it?

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 17:02:38

Mordion, you are completely misunderstanding the arguments here. The stats are available to see. Try as you might to find flaws in them, it is highly likely that the admissions data produced by Oxbridge universities themselves are likely to be accurate. Nobody is using those stats to 'naysay' anyone else or tell anyone that they have 'no chance'. It is only you and nobody else on this thread who has suggested that that is what's going on.

I don't know why you are so against talking about the stats TBH. Is it better to bury your head in the sand? Is ignorance bliss? Do you take the same view of statistics in the NHS. That it is not for ordinary people to know them?

Personally, I think knowledge is power. Knowing what you're up against and seeing the big picture is hugely important.

Of course, you have no chance if you don't apply but I'm much more interested in the discrepancies between those who DO apply with the same A Level results but who have different success rates according to their skin colour and what school they went to. I thought I'd made that perfectly clear and I have said it a number of times now.

As for your comment, 'Who is any of us to tell anyone they will or won't fit in anywhere? ' I totally agree. There is quite a difference between saying that some people won't fit in at Oxbridge and saying that I make or would dream of making that judgement for them.

You really do seem to be misunderstanding quite a lot of what I've said. It might actually interest you to know that I've got quite a good rate of getting kids into Oxbridge. Might I suggest that if you're not sure what I mean or what my position is that you ask for clarification rather than making assumptions that are a long way out?

MordionAgenos Sun 06-Jan-13 17:05:18

On the contrary, I'm not misunderstanding anything.

MordionAgenos Sun 06-Jan-13 17:08:03

And I'm certainly not the only person who has had an issue with some of the wilder things you have said in these two threads.

Dowding Sun 06-Jan-13 17:09:09

Fivecandles, how far do you think it is Oxbridge's responsibility to make up for the errors in parenting, education or personal choices that may have been made for/by pupils by the time they arrive at its gates?

If as you say inequality is entrenched by the age of 4, why should a university be the one getting it in the neck for not righting the wrongs decades down the line? If clever children are corralled into a smaller number of schools (through selection or scholarships or whatever) and then stretched it's not rocket science that a good proportion will get in. A clever child in a group where everyone else is struggling to survive the A Level syllabus is simply not going to have the same shot at a place as one who attends a school where other kids are at least as bright as they are, with teachers who can treat A Level requirements merely as a starting point. The dearth of selective state education has actually caused Oxbridge's diversity to backslide - in 1969 only 38% of places at Oxford went to private school pupils.

Universities can only choose from the people who apply, and there are so many summer schools and initiatives to try to expand the pool. Have you met many Oxbridge tutors? They're such a diverse and international group that notions that they're trying to perpetuate some English public school myth are absurd. They're not after some gormless Hooray Henry; they're academics at the cutting edge of their profession.

"then there's the subfusc and the interviews and all the rest of it."

What on earth is the problem with gowns? People all over the world wear them. I stand by what I said before about uniform being a leveller - if you're all in sub fusc you can't tell whether the person next to you would otherwise be draped in a pashmina, or a hoodie, or dungarees or tweed... shock

The whole point of interviewing is to get beyond the initial impression of the candidate - what's fairer when we're swimming in a tide of A grades? An entrance exam? It used to be a useful tool but got kicked out. I still think it's very patronising to suggest that, for poor students to cope, Oxbridge must do away with academic dress, being interviewed by tutors and - what does "all the rest of it" refer to? Historic buildings? Maybe we could bulldoze the cities and replace the colleges with Stalinist tower blocks so that inner-city pupils feel more at home. God forbid that they might aspire to something different.

Bonsoir Sun 06-Jan-13 17:10:27

I have also taken issue with your rigid and shallow adherence to raw statistics, fivecandles. I also suspect you might not be the poster who is the most accustomed to statistical analysis and interpretation.

Bonsoir Sun 06-Jan-13 17:14:03

"A clever child in a group where everyone else is struggling to survive the A Level syllabus is simply not going to have the same shot at a place as one who attends a school where other kids are at least as bright as they are, with teachers who can treat A Level requirements merely as a starting point."

I agree very strongly with Dowding's point.

rabbitstew Sun 06-Jan-13 17:17:18

happygardening - please could you stop typing "your" instead of "you're" or "you are," and "its" instead of "it's" or "it is"???? I'm beginning to find it quite distracting!

JoanByers Sun 06-Jan-13 17:22:27

One of the things about grammar schools is that by the standard of schools as a whole, even the worst-managed grammar school in the country will get very good results and an Ofsted 'Good' rating at a minimum.

On the other hand a school with a low ability intake has very little chance of performing well and being rated 'Outstanding'.

I think it's one of the biggest myths that there's anything special about grammar schools. The stats for performance published by the DFE are broken down by performance at entry at 11. According to these stats many comprehensives perform better with their 'high attainers' (those attaining Level 5 at 11) than grammar schools do.

As I understand it grammar schools will generally get less funding than comprehensives, although I know that comprehensives will tend to concentrate their resources on the bottom sets, so it might balance out.

Of course mediocre comprehensives are dreadful places for bright kids, but a grammar school isn't necessarily anything great.

Private schools vary regionally, I know that there are parts of the country where the private choices are very mediocre, but in areas where there is a lot of competition parents will generally visit half-a-dozen or more schools before making a decision, something that I doubt the parents gloating about getting into the local grammar school will do.

AuldAlliance Sun 06-Jan-13 17:23:53

And in France teachers decide what's "best" in the educational system which is why it is going down the drain.

I think that is a little sweeping, Bonsoir. Some "teachers" (actually more lecturers in IUFMs and inspecteurs, who are not teachers any longer and are, IM(personal, therefore limited)E, alarmingly out of touch with reality) may decide what's "best."

If I understand your use of "best" correctly, which I am not certain I do.

A majority of teachers are constrained by regulations and limits imposed from above and by the difficult conditions in which they work.

I have chaired and participated in several jurys de baccalauréat and the whole thing is so tightly rigged to ensure maximum pass rates, irrespective of teachers' assessments, that it is laughable.

Teachers are more aware than many other people of the impact that government policy will have on quality and conditions in schools in the short and medium term. They also have direct experience of that policy and of what choices ensure better classroom conditions and chances of success than others, and they use that experience accordingly. Different to, but by no means more reprehensible than, an old boys'/MBA/however you define it network like yours.

There are of course also other social reasons why teachers' children gain access more easily to selective academic filières than those of other socio-professional categories.
The fact that the system is going down the drain is not solely related to teachers, by any means.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 17:34:40

'some of the wilder things you have said in these two threads'

Gosh, I'd like to know what I've said that's 'wild'. And I thought I didn't get out much!

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 17:43:07

'"A clever child in a group where everyone else is struggling to survive the A Level syllabus is simply not going to have the same shot at a place as one who attends a school where other kids are at least as bright as they are, with teachers who can treat A Level requirements merely as a starting point."

Which would be understandable if it weren't for the fact that kids from state schools go on to outperform kids from private schools with the same grades.

Which does suggest that all the confidence and their glowing list of extra curricular achievements etc that they can present at interview are just that really and are no measure of their actual academic ability.

Which is a way of addressing Dowding's points, most of which I've already discussed addressed at length so won't bother repeating, but in fact Oxbridge do already use exams. Exams and lotteries are infinity fairer and much less subject to prejudice than intereviews.

This is why most forward thinking universities have abandoned interviews long ago.

Interviewers, whether they are aware of it are not, are biased, and often choose people they find it easiest to identfiy with.

This may at least partly explain why, in a university with no black staff, black students are much less likely to be given places than white students with the same grades.

NamingOfParts Sun 06-Jan-13 17:44:19

I wonder what proportion of 'possibles' apply from private schools compared to comprehensives? I wonder how many potential applicants from comprehensives simply rule themselves out and see Oxford/Cambridge as not for them or not worth the bother.

My DD is planning to study chemistry after A level. Looking at the Cambridge website I can see why she isnt interested in applying there. It looks sooo insular. DD is interested in courses with an Erasmus year - errr, no. Perhaps if you grow up seeing this as normal then it appeals. If not then it looks so stultifying.

Do Oxford and Cambridge actually need to market themselves better to comprehensive students if they want to broaden their range of applicants? Or are they happy as they are really?

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 17:45:13

In fact, of all my Oxbridge successes, I've had years where like the other poster, the successful applicants were the least bright but the most confident.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 17:48:48

'Fivecandles, how far do you think it is Oxbridge's responsibility to make up for the errors in parenting, education or personal choices that may have been made for/by pupils by the time they arrive at its gates?'

I've quite clearly said that what Oxbridge can do about this stuff is limited.

However, there are things they could quite easily do to make themselves more accessible. I've mentioned some of these already.

It would be good if Cambridge could try to ensure their staff were more representative of the ethnic and social diversity of the population at large for a start. It is shocking that there is not a single black member of staff.

JoanByers Sun 06-Jan-13 17:54:14

"Which would be understandable if it weren't for the fact that kids from state schools go on to outperform kids from private schools with the same grades."

Eh, but they are not admitting on the same grades.

A child from Eton will be a given higher offer than one from a Bootle comp.

According to this study: http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6077920

students from all sources performed at a similar level across 2005-2010.

Of course most of these studies are conducted with a certain agenda, but I think it's worth pointing out that A Levels are extremely dumbed down compared with how they were 25 years ago or so, and that schools that teach purely to the syllabus will most likely NOT be adequately preparing their students for an Oxbridge degree course.

NamingOfParts Sun 06-Jan-13 17:55:54

Interesting point about interviews fivecandles - while perusing the Cambridge website I see that the vast majority of the Cambridge colleges use interview or test at interview for the selection process. Will that identify the best scientist or the person who is best at talking about science?

rabbitstew Sun 06-Jan-13 17:58:13

Maybe Oxford's tutorial system is both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness? I can see, if you are committing yourself to seeing and debating with a student on a weekly basis for an hour with only one other student present to take part, you are going to want to interview them to decide in advance whether you could bear that... and I know from experience that personality clashes between students and their tutors were a very bad thing at Oxford precisely because of the intensity of the relationship.

grovel Sun 06-Jan-13 18:00:12

My understanding is that Durham, Bristol and some other universities have the same problems as Oxbridge in getting applications from kids from low-income families/comprehensive schools.

They don't interview.

They don't wear gowns to dine or to sit exams.

rabbitstew Sun 06-Jan-13 18:01:25

They do have a reputation for being "very public school," though. And "Oxford/Cambridge reject" destinations. It's sometimes hard to shake off a reputation.

Mominatrix Sun 06-Jan-13 18:01:52

Fivecandles, according to a quick literature search I found this:

"State school students do not outperform their peers from the independent sector once they get to university, new research has found. The report from Cambridge University appears to contradict previous studies, which found that, on average, students from the state sector achieve better degrees than those from similar backgrounds who were privately educated."

The research you are referring to is an older study which found that students were about 3% more likely to get a first or a 2:1. A whole whopping 3%.

Mominatrix Sun 06-Jan-13 18:05:23

Ugg, not very clear! State school graduates at Russell Group universities outperformed their private counterparts by 3%.

JoanByers Sun 06-Jan-13 18:08:25

> It would be good if Cambridge could try to ensure their staff were more representative of the ethnic and social diversity of the population at large for a start. It is shocking that there is not a single black member of staff.

But it's total bollocks. I found these two very easily:

www.wolfson.cam.ac.uk/people/mr-george-karekwaivanane
www.law.cam.ac.uk/people/academic/o-odudu/1709

There of course very large numbers of staff and students of Indian and Chinese backgrounds. Black children do not perform well at school, as a fact, so why is this Oxford's fault? Why are they expected to right all the world's wrongs?

grovel Sun 06-Jan-13 18:13:23

Out of 14,000 professors in UK universities only 50 are black. That's fewer than one per university. Not an exclusively Oxbridge issue.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 18:32:08

Joan, David Lammy's questions under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that white students were twice as likely to be successful as white students at Cambridge so this is not about numbers applying. It's what happens once they've applied.

Nobody has ever suggested that Cambridge could or should right the world's wrongs but just that they shouldn't be part of them.

The article was from 2011:

'of more than 1,500 academic and lab staff at Cambridge, none are black. Thirty-four are of British Asian origin'

www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/dec/07/oxbridge-elitism-oxford-cambridge-race-class

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 18:33:33

grovel, I never said any of this was exclusively an Oxbridge issue.

But I think that, 'Everywhere else is just or nearly as bad' is a very poor defense.

gelo Sun 06-Jan-13 18:34:31

fivecandles

"The stats are available to see. Try as you might to find flaws in them, it is highly likely that the admissions data produced by Oxbridge universities themselves are likely to be accurate."

It's difficult to entirely trust the stats when oxford's findings sometimes contradict Cambridge's. And they both sometimes contradict findings of elsewhere.

For example: at Cambridge they have found here that "Given the same examination record at point of admission, students from the state and independent sectors have been equally likely to perform well in Cambridge".
However Oxford found "private school students with the same GCSE attainment record as their state school educated peers are less likely to achieve a First class degree. The inverse does not hold true for low attainment where there is no school difference in the propensity to attain lower than an Upper Second"

Also Oxford have found "We see no statistically significant
link between the educational level of an applicant’s parents and their
chances of gaining an offer for undergraduate study." which is contrary to received wisdom. (Note this is among applicants - it's not saying anything about the likelyhood of applying from different levels of parental background).

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 18:45:48

Gelo, when I made that point, it was specifically about the admission stats including the schools of succcessful applicants. Those are not under question.

I accept that it may not be clear whether or not state school kids outperform those from private schools with the same grades at A Level but even if they perform as well it suggests that the advantage that candidates from private schools have over state school candidates when it comes to their applications is not that of their academic superiority or potential.

Which strengthens the case for removing interviews which do not test academic ability in a way that is free from bias against social class and probably ethnic origin as well.

It is well understood that private school candidates are likely to have advantages over state school candidates in terms of the wealth of their extra curricular experience, preparation and so on (not to mention the old school tie network especially at Eton, Westminster et al). But this does not mean that they are necessarily more academically able.

gelo Sun 06-Jan-13 18:49:37

OK fivecandles. Did you know that at Oxford applicants from state schools are advantaged over private school applicants with the same prior qualifications? I merely mention it since you said private school candidates had an advantage - they do in that they are likely to be better qualified, but if you correct for that then the state applicants are more likely to get offers.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 18:52:17

These are really significant from the Sutton Trust:

'The proportion of university entrants going to Oxbridge from the top performing 30 independent schools was nearly twice that of the top performing 30 grammar schools – despite having very similar average A-level scores.

At the 30 top performing comprehensive schools, only half the expected number of pupils are admitted to the 13 Sutton Trust universities, given the overall relationship between schools’ average A-level results and university admissions.

At the 30 top performing independent schools, a third more pupils are admitted to the 13 Sutton Trust universities than would be expected given the schools’ average A-level results.'

www.suttontrust.com/research/university-admissions-by-individual-schools/

rabbitstew Sun 06-Jan-13 18:53:23

gelo - that just sounds like more debatable statistics to me...

Mominatrix Sun 06-Jan-13 18:53:42

fivecandles, my interpretation of the data are the is that Oxford and Cambridge are choosing the correct candidates for their schools based on their applicant pool. If both privately educated students are state educated students are performing essentially equally as well, they ALL deserve to be there and there is no bias.

gelo Sun 06-Jan-13 18:54:58

Yes, that's why they do outreach to try and encourage more to apply. The problem is that they don't apply, not that they are discriminated against by some 'old school tie' network after they have applied.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 18:55:21

gelo, that's not always the case. Oxford MAY reduce the grade requirements where a student has come from a school which performs well below average but if you look above, you'll see that in practice, you are twice as likely to get in from a top perofmring independent school than if you are a state grammar (itself selective) despite very similar average A-Level scores.

gelo Sun 06-Jan-13 18:56:24

most stats are rabbit!

The source of the Oxford stuff is [http://economics.ouls.ox.ac.uk/13935/1/uuid0e9cf555-a921-4134-baf4-ce7114795f36-THESIS02.pdf here]] but it is huge.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 18:57:01

'they ALL deserve to be there and there is no bias. '

Well, yes, but there is very clearly a bias. That bias surely comes into play at interview.

gelo Sun 06-Jan-13 18:57:17

five, that's before you have corrected for prior attainment. See the link in my last post for the source.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 18:58:38

'The problem is that they don't apply, not that they are discriminated against by some 'old school tie' network after they have applied. '

No it isn't. Of course, you're right that there are disproportionately more applicants from private schools than state schools but applicants with the same grades are less likely to get in if they've come from state schools (and if they're black).

Ronaldo Sun 06-Jan-13 18:59:36

Two threads and you are still not done on this? What exactly is it you all want?
Will none of you be satisfied until Oxford and Cambride are made to accept kids from Cherry Tree estate unconditionally and reject those from Eton? What do you think will happen then? Equality?

Get a life people . Think it through.

As someone who went to Cambridge without a thought I would not get in even though I didnt have the " background" I still believe that they take the best and the elite and thats that.

You know even Vague William isnt short in the grey cells (certainly out spins Cherry Tree Estates finest). You can take the kid out of Cherry Tree Estate but you are not going to take Cherry Tree Estate out of the boy - and that is the problem.

gelo Sun 06-Jan-13 19:03:32

Well five, that's not what this dataset showed.

"The issue of state and private schooling has dominated debate on Oxford
admissions, and it is often assumed that private school applicants are favoured. We
found that, taking prior academic attainment into account, private schooling was
actually negatively linked to the chances of gaining an offer. Qualitative research on
admission to Oxford has shown that this is due to the discounting of private school
performance by selectors"

I took that from another analysis of the data here

Mominatrix Sun 06-Jan-13 19:04:04

fivecandles, one factor which skews application from the top independent schools towards Oxford and Cambridge which simply does not exist at grammar or comprehensive schools is the ever increasing number of very bright overseas candidates attending them. The parents of these schools want their children to then attend a world recognized top university, so usually Oxbridge here or US top universities. I realize that this number of students is probably a small but significant number, but it is becoming more significant. For example, St. Paul's, which has been pretty much a day school for at least the past 20 years, is going to actively expand its boarding intake and facilities due to international demand.

Ronaldo Sun 06-Jan-13 19:12:04

I realize that this number of students is probably a small but significant number, but it is becoming more significant. For example, St. Paul's, which has been pretty much a day school for at least the past 20 years, is going to actively expand its boarding intake and facilities due to international demand

St Pauls is not the only one. It is true. My school sent 19 to Cambridge last year (and several more to Oxford) . That included a number of overseas pupils. Most were brilliant beyond your belief as well as hard working. They deserved the places they won.

As tuition fees are going to take out a large number of middle income families, the way forward is overseas. That said such candidates willget lower offers in most universities because they dont have quotas on them and fees can be higher.

Ronaldo Sun 06-Jan-13 19:13:26

You have to remember all universities have to pay their way now. They are businesses. You need to accept candidates who can pay ( not true in my day of course)

creamteas Sun 06-Jan-13 19:17:36

I'm sure people realise, but the division between state/private schools does not map easily onto social class, and in this thread the two things are getting muddled.

Whilst private schools are over whelming middle class, state schools are mixed.

So saying that state school applicants are just as likely to get a place as private school, is not the same thing as saying that applicants from the poorest groups are less likely to be accepted than there middle class counterparts.

creamteas Sun 06-Jan-13 19:19:19

Ronaldo unless they are overseas students then the government still pays (and the student has to pay more back in loans, but the money comes from the same place initially)

Ronaldo Sun 06-Jan-13 19:23:32

Ronaldo unless they are overseas students then the government still pays (and the student has to pay more back in loans, but the money comes from the same place initially)

It was overseas students I was talking about creamteas. They are a source of revenue for most universities ( although to be honest they may not be for long when they realise the colonies and the US willgive them better deals for topd crop education) Someone mentioned how independent schools were bringing in a larger number of overseas boarders. My school has increased its boarding for overseas pupils recently and we have a whole new boarding house built this year for increased numbers. All want to go to Oxford or Cambridge. ( we always get a fair number of pupils into both these universities )

gelo Sun 06-Jan-13 19:23:48

OK five, I've looked at your Sutton trust report. The caveats on that are quite huge imo.

For instance "Firstly, the measure used to reflect A-level performance is an average for the school as a whole.
This could conceal different distributions of A-level results among pupils within a school. Knowing
the individual A-level scores of pupils is likely to explain to a much greater extent the discrepancies
in elite university admission rates."

You absolutely MUST look at individuals (as the study I referred to does). Independents do get more than their share of the super bright due to scholarships and internationals.

Also "the analysis does not take into account the different subjects taken by pupils. Schools may
have high average A-level scores, but if pupils are not taking A-levels in essential disciplines
required for degree courses in leading research universities, then the university admission rates
will be lower for these institutions."

As independent schools claim to be less likely to take General studies/crit thinking and tend to offer more 'facilitating subjects' and fewer 'less generally acceptable' A levels this pretty much renders the Sutton trust study useless.

Kora Sun 06-Jan-13 20:34:04

IMHO the interview is one of the key factors to be changed if the oxbridge unis want to improve accessibility. I know it's anecdotal, but I was struck that everyone I met at Oxford in the 90s who also came from state (grammar or comp) had done the extra entrance exam, apart from one very naturally talented orator and debater who had chosen the interview-only route. I did an interview too, but only after having shown some quality on paper, which I think really helped because the exam was just like taking a-levels a bit earlier whereas the interview was like nothing I'd ever experienced before! I gather that at some point a bright spark persuaded the Oxford colleges to scrap the old entrance exam because it had been criticised for allowing an unfair advantage to private schools who 'taught' to the test, while state schools (even my old grammar) did not prepare pupils for it. But the stats worsened and many subjects have reintroduced tests, particularly as a-levels are considered by many academics to be dumbed down. Private schools are well-known for their focus on confident and articulate speaking. Of course all secondary schools need to provide a solid training in presentational skills but I agree with those who say undue emphasis is given to interview when really it should test simply whether the student has the potential to respond to a largely tutorial-based teaching system.

By the by, I did hear of a few state school teachers who had tried to convince their students that oxford was a closed shop, but luckily they were in the minority compared to those who went out of their way to give encouragement.

JoanByers Sun 06-Jan-13 20:34:26

>The article was from 2011:

> 'of more than 1,500 academic and lab staff at Cambridge, none are black. Thirty-four are of British Asian origin'"

> www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/dec/07/oxbridge-elitism-oxford-cambridge-race-class

That article was bollocks then and it's bollocks now.

The Grauniad is hardly known for its accuracy.

blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/andrewmcfbrown/100067203/guardian-claims-cambridge-has-no-black-academic-staff-why-didnt-they-bother-to-check/

Dowding Sun 06-Jan-13 20:41:54

Fivecandles, if you're going to keep banging on about Oxbridge being racially exclusive, you'd be better off avoiding discredited sources.

According to you, Cambridge employs no black staff at all.

I would like to know who this is? http://www.law.cam.ac.uk/people/academic/o-odudu/1709

Or this? http://www.law.cam.ac.uk/people/academic/j-tankebe/3586

The Guardian article you're so keen on is erroneous. Cambridge even has a BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) Network for staff, which would be a bit silly if none of them existed. So, your claims are just wrong.

Regarding Oxford, I found the following statistics from the university's website interesting. You might, too. 22% of Oxford students are non white. (I believe the percentage for the UK as a whole is around 12%.)

Oxford’s research shows that school attainment is the single biggest barrier to getting more black students to Oxford. In 2007, for example, around 23% of all white students nationally gained three As at A level (excluding General Studies), but just 9.6% of black students. Or look at it in numbers, in 2009: 29,000 white students got the requisite grades for Oxford (AAA excluding General Studies) compared to just 452 black students.

Once black students do apply, Oxford's own recent analysis shows that subject choice is a major reason for their lower success rate. Black students apply disproportionately for the most oversubscribed subjects. 44% of all black applicants apply for Oxford’s three most oversubscribed subjects (compared to just 17% of all white applicants). That means that nearly half of black applicants are applying for the same three subjects, and these are the three toughest subjects for admission.

Take Medicine. After Economics & Management, it is the most oversubscribed subject at Oxford. There are about eight applicants for every place available, all predicted top grades. A massive 29% of all black applicants to Oxford apply for Medicine – compared to just 7% of all white applicants.

And this for interest:

Knowsley in Merseyside, for instance... is the worst area in England for school achievement. In 2009 only 212 students in all of Knowlsey took three A levels – of these, only three (1.4%) achieved AAA or better. Of those three, two got offers from Oxford. That's a pretty outstanding success rate. And the area of the country with the highest Oxford success rate is Darlington in the north-east.

Dowding Sun 06-Jan-13 20:44:23

Sorry, Joan, cross-posted with you! grin

JoanByers Sun 06-Jan-13 20:56:52

The real problem with private school versus state in terms of Oxbridge admission is that expectations are so much higher from a very early age in the average private as compared to state pupil.

My children were told to sign up for music lessons (one-to-one, at £17/30 minutes) at age 6.

My son (10) is hopeless at sport but still plays competitive sport against other schools every week, as do every child at the school. He is good at maths and has moved onto the next year's work in his maths lessons. He has an ASD/Aspergers and is getting private therapy to enhance his social language skills to improve his ability in English, etc.

You should note that not all of this is a result of simply buying a private education, but includes other things such as me coaching him personally for his 11+ exams - from what I can see there is at least a 90% correlation between highly motivated parents and private education, and while there of course plenty of motivated parents in the state sector, they will be a much smaller proportion of the total.

You don't choose to fork out £32k/year for Winchester because you are indifferent about your child's education, whereas the perception that something is free, and therefore valueless, means that a good number of parents in the state sector are indifferent to it.

Obviously children fail to reach their potential, as measured by the standards of say Eton or St Pauls, in the state sector in very large numbers, but by the time they reach 18 it's way, way too late to do anything about that - I'm working now, in the primary years on my son's weak areas, and of course you could do that in any school, but the competitive nature of private schooling means that I perceive that I'm wasting my money (and it's definitely not cheap) unless my son achieves to the best of his abilities. In a state school he might be (and was, when he was there) deemed to be doing just fine, but for me and other parents I know 'fine' is not good enough.

I think until you have experienced this, it's ridiculous to complain 'but 40% of Westminster boys get into Oxbridge, and only 0.1% from Huddersfield Comprehensive'. Well of course they do, they are the brightest and the best and competed against other very bright children to get in in the first place.

Anecdotes about motivated parents at some North London liberal hotspot don't really help much either - there are x,000 state secondary schools out there, and on the whole they aren't all that.

Yellowtip Sun 06-Jan-13 21:27:59

@ five: 'gender bias' = sexism, no? (replying as I read down).

Yellowtip Sun 06-Jan-13 21:38:57

Apologies for responding piecemeal but yes, I do believe that teachers should carry the burden for inspiring pupils, recognising talent and encouraging those pupils to aspire to the best fit academically that that pupil is capable of. It's a lazy teacher that doesn't do that. I think teachers are at the heart of this tbh. Any teacher worth their salt would be able to identify an Oxbridge level student and then say: go for it and I'll help you. Stop shifting the blame onto the institutions five; the institutions are open to all intellectually qualified comers.

Yellowtip Sun 06-Jan-13 21:50:51

Three or more cheers for Dowding.

five, sorrry, but you do appear to be a complete nit compared to Dowding.

Yellowtip Sun 06-Jan-13 21:58:00

Joan there's a vast range of quality between the 164 remaining grammar schools. Vast.

Yellowtip Sun 06-Jan-13 22:03:12

DD1 had a black Law tutor five. Where do you get this stuff from?

Yellowtip Sun 06-Jan-13 22:14:48

five by definition (raw grades) one of my DC was the brightest in the year (straight A* taken a year early) and hugely artistic and talented but also hugely unconfident (yes, great mothering sad). The eight interviewing tutors over four interviews moulded the interviews to encourage her to show some level of spark and she's now on track for a First (although of course I've told her it couldn't matter less what she gets). You really do seem to buy into myths. I prefer the real stuff myself.

Yellowtip Sun 06-Jan-13 22:24:56

Try out a Medicine interview at Oxford or Cambridge five where no tutor gives a what sport or instrument you play or what drugs are your drugs of choice, except in that they provide relief from the stress that you're bound to endure.

Yellowtip Sun 06-Jan-13 22:26:45

There were several asterisks in that last post, between 'a' and 'what'. Strangely deleted.

Yellowtip Sun 06-Jan-13 22:36:55

Oops, so many cross posts, but glad to see that five hanging on to empty and discredited headlines has had her credibility hugely reduced.

Responding directly to the OP's question to those who have chosen state over private when they can afford to pay and their reasons taking into account the unequal playing field angle.

I suppose for us we were lucky that our principles were never really tested, as though we are ideologically opposed to private education we had two outstanding comps on our doorstep. In no way after visiting them did we ever think our children wouldn't reach their potential or at least if they didn't it wouldn't be down to the school. Our principles would have been much more tested if our local school had under a 40% pass rate or was swamped with social problems so I don't feel I can take the high ground on this.

Only one of our four DCs has been all the way through the system and if success means getting to a top ten uni and studying what you are passionate about than we have no regrets about state ed.

DS did apply to Cambridge, was pooled and rejected - would this have been different at an independent or even a grammar? I don't know - he may just not be exceptional. I would be interested to know though how different his preparation for interview would have been at an independent or grammar. His prep consisted of a 30 min session the day before his interview with a non-specialist teacher - who actually gave him totally inapropriate advice for his subject. No advice on which college to apply to was given originally and in fact the wrong information was given regarding the amount of A*s at GCSE needed to even apply, (Cambridge don't actually specify - we were told by the school at least 5 were needed which put a few of his friends off applying.) His class sizes for maths and sciences were 15-20 dropping in the second year down to 10 in some classes - is this much larger than independents and how much of a disadvantage would that really be?

Even if our experience is massively different to those in the independent sector regarding preparation for Oxbridge I think I would only regret our decision if he had some how not managed to get to a great university when he obviously had the potential. For me it is much more about clever kids from all backgrounds getting to good universities rather than just increasing the number of state educated students at Oxbridge.

However I still think the biggest challenge for state schools is making sure kids of all abilities and backgrounds reach their potential - not just getting the clever kids to decent universities. My city has pockets of high achieving schools - but over half of the state schools here struggle to get a 50% pass rate for 5 GCSEs.

LaVolcan Mon 07-Jan-13 00:36:27

I have known pupils of good independent schools apply to Cambridge, be pooled and then rejected, so it's not just a state school phenomena.

LoVolcan - yes I am aware it's not 'a state school phenomena'. I was responding to the OP's interest in outcomes for state school pupils and wondering if it would have made any difference in our particular case if DS had attended an independent school, had better advice, interview prep, smaller class sizes etc - the 'value added' stuff basically. Of course I agree it may not have changed the outcome for DS at all in relation to Cambridge I was just addressing the issue of unequal playing fields.

happygardening Mon 07-Jan-13 08:28:11

"The real problem with private school versus state in terms of Oxbridge admission is that expectations are so much higher from a very early age in the average private as compared to state pupil."
"Joan* this is a point I made earlier. Those top few independent schools who send so many will have a culture of what is best described as Oxbridge expectation from the moment the children walk in the door. Going to Oxbridge will be considered the norm. At my DS's school younger boys talk to older boys listen to their Oxbridge plans you can see how they could assume rightly or wrongly that its a far gone concussion. Parents also assume that their children will go onto Oxbridge one parent had taken his son (at 12 yrs old) to his Oxford college and told him this is where you'll come when you leave school. Another parent was talking to me and saying how convenient Oxford will be for her home again her DS was only 12. Many boys I suspect talk about going to Oxbridge like some children talk about going to university in general. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Your parents expect it, your super selective school expects it and has extensive experience and infra structure in place to enable you to make an excellent application and perform well in a interview and the child too expects it. The outcome for children at these schools; 30 - 50%+ going every year.

LaVolcan Mon 07-Jan-13 09:11:51

Emphaticmaybe - impossible to tell in individual cases, I would have thought.

I think happygardening's post following yours does explain the expectations well.

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 09:14:35

happygardening - I love your "far gone concussion." grin

mam29 Mon 07-Jan-13 09:25:11

What about oxbridge and cambridge aside looking at russell group unis instead.

My ex went to private boys school he gots all as gcse /a levels ent onto study at york oxford dident want him.I think he failed at interveiw stage as he wasent very confident.

His freind went same school but much ealtheir background he went cambridge but he had very confident persona.He was very clever too and tad lazy as he never really had to work too hard to get great grades.

What happens in usa how many state schools get into ivy league harvard and yale is it problem exclusive to uk?

Theres been threads in past about private primaries.

lots kids go state primary then switch.

But a few do private primary cheaper then try find good state secondry as its assumed the groundworks done and they have the work ethic.
Is11+too late to change course if primary not been great,
But in relation to unis thats of course more impacted by seniors.

Re exams and curriculum-what do private schools do?
I dont think they have to follow nation al curriculum or do satts.

Do most chose gsce /alevel or choose some other exam.
Inst there new one called u level which garry linkers son failed.

If a levels devbalued then uni entrance tests bit like american scores sounds fairer.

My sister had to sit mcats to study dentistry and think doctors possibly vets do.They dont just go on grades alone.

Is the advantage now what qualification the schools choose to do.How do top unis offer with international bacc?

I think most unless had very good schools locally probably ;pricey iving in pricey area anyway and had the money would pick private.

Theres also topping up state with extra currcicular and tutors.

I must admit cost of uni in uks bit worrying and eldest being 6 have no idea what path she wants to follow yet.

speaking to parent otehr day who move state to private she has no regrets says the preps been fab for hers .

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 09:27:01

I agree about the culture of top public schools. You are just not going to get so many young people applying from one school unless there is a massive culture of doing so. Compare that to the grammar school I went to, where all but the virtual dead certs were discouraged from going for it (resulting in virtually everyone who applied to Oxford or Cambridge from the school getting in, but with one or two disgruntled students who felt they had been put off from following their aims and desires rather than supported in following them). I still wouldn't want to pay colossal sums of money for my children to be in an environment where getting into Oxford or Cambridge is considered the norm. That's just too far removed from what I consider to be normal life - like living part of the time in a gilded cage and the other part of the time going out to examine the interesting specimins outside the cage who aren't quite like you, so that you can understand them.

happygardening Mon 07-Jan-13 09:34:37

"I still wouldn't want to pay colossal sums of money for my children to be in an environment where getting into Oxford or Cambridge is considered the norm. That's just too far removed from what I consider to be normal life - like living part of the time in a gilded cage and the other part of the time going out to examine the interesting specimins outside the cage who aren't quite like you, so that you can understand them."
Rabbit Assuming you have the money then thats your choice these schools are grossly over subscribed so obviously many feel differently. Hopefully you unlike many on here who are also able to make the same choice don't endlessly moan about how unfair it all is!

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 09:50:11

I don't think it's unfair that I choose not to go down that route grin, although I take an interest in my emotional reaction to things when I step outside myself, iyswim - I think my emotional response definitely relates to my upbringing and what I was taught to view as important in life. I do think, however, that the whole system in which we all have to operate is intrinsically unfair and am glad that I have actually had choices to make - you can hardly say something is unfair when it is your choice, but you can say it is unfair when it isn't your choice...

Bonsoir Mon 07-Jan-13 09:53:07

Life is intrinsically unfair.

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 09:58:25

In fact, I know my position is utterly illogical, so it can only be emotional - I would not discount paying for my children to be educated privately altogether, after all... I just have a problem with going for what is viewed as "the best." So go figure that one...

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 10:03:09

Maybe I have an obsesssion with the "good enough"???

seeker Mon 07-Jan-13 10:03:37

"Rabbit Assuming you have the money then thats your choice these schools are grossly over subscribed so obviously many feel differently. Hopefully you unlike many on here who are also able to make the same choice don't endlessly moan about how unfair it all is!"

Now this really sums up an important part of the issue for me. The assumption that people are only concerned about their own situation, and that it is somehow wrong to be outraged by unfairness on behalf of other people. My children are very privileged in many ways- why can't I be active and vocal on behalf of those that aren't?

seeker Mon 07-Jan-13 10:06:11

No, I don't mean "wrong to be outrged on behalf of other people. It's as if it's impossible. That if you are upset about unfairness it must be because you are jealous, or bitter because of something that happened tonyou or your children. Not just that you hate injustice happening to anyone.

Bonsoir Mon 07-Jan-13 10:08:40

seeker - "My children are very privileged in many ways- why can't I be active and vocal on behalf of those that aren't?"

Because it is arrogant to assume that, as a parent of a priviliged child, you know better than the parents of a less privileged child what is good for him or her.

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 10:22:38

Life is intrinsically unfair. However, it is not wrong to want to reduce unfairness rather than allow it to blossom.

seeker Mon 07-Jan-13 10:22:45

Bonsoir- you don't seem to have a problem with, as the parent of privileged children, knowing that less privileged children are fine with what they've got! Why is it arrogant to want them to have more, but not arrogant to say that the status quo is fine?

Bonsoir Mon 07-Jan-13 10:31:13

I think that denying choice to all in the name of fairness is a champagne-socialist delusion that has no future. Choice and diversity does not guarantee opportunity to all (the trouble with opportunity is the familiar horse-water one as much as anything else) but it does create something to aspire to. And removing aspiration is the unfairest (and stupidest) thing you can do to human beings.

Bonsoir Mon 07-Jan-13 10:32:00

Rabbitstew - some sorts of unfairness can be reduced or even eliminated. But not all and it is far from desirable to attempt to do so.

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 10:33:29

We're all a bit trapped by our upbringings, though. If you had a fabulous public school education and happy home life and looked back on your childhood and thought how marvellous it was and how wonderful your parents were for giving you those opportunities and experiences, it might be very hard not to strive to recreate this for your own children. If this meant choosing a career more for the money you could earn than your personal fulfilment so as to ensure the same education for your children, would this be carrying on a fine family tradition, or cutting off the choices your parents wanted to open up to you and/or wasting the opportunities you were given???? What and who do we really do it all for? We are all tangled up in a mix of emotions and beliefs, really.

grovel Mon 07-Jan-13 10:44:37

Very true, rabbit.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Mon 07-Jan-13 11:20:29

rabbbitstew - well put - it is not a simple equation.

Bonsoir Mon 07-Jan-13 11:55:47

... and which is also why it is not appropriate to fight on other people's behalf when you don't know what they want and have no right to decide for them.

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 12:31:00

Hmm. If enough people you are fighting for agree with you, it is generally considered appropriate to fight on others' behalf....

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 12:32:02

And if not enough people agree with you, then you are unlikely to get very far, anyway, so that's alright then, isn't it?...

seeker Mon 07-Jan-13 12:34:30

"I think that denying choice to all in the name of fairness is a champagne-socialist delusion that has no future. Choice and diversity does not guarantee opportunity to all (the trouble with opportunity is the familiar horse-water one as much as anything else) but it does create something to aspire to. And removing aspiration is the unfairest (and stupidest) thing you can do to human beings."

1. Nobody is suggesting denying choice to anyone.
2. Nobody is talking about removing aspiration.

What is being suggested is that opportunities be extended beyond those born to them.

Your "if you give poor people baths they'll only keep coal in them" attitude is, frankly, repugnant.

JoanByers Mon 07-Jan-13 12:53:37

> That's just too far removed from what I consider to be normal life - like living part of the time in a gilded cage and the other part of the time going out to examine the interesting specimins outside the cage who aren't quite like you, so that you can understand them.

Well my experience is that I went to state school and did very well educationally, financially, and I end up in the gilded cage anyway.

In other words, while you might not meet that many private school types in Asda on a Friday night, if you end up in a well-paid career then your colleagues and friends will be privately educated in many cases anyway, so it is the norm there.

Of course if you genuinely do not aspire for your child to go to Oxbridge, to become a lawyer or a doctor, or whatever, but would rather they became a plumber or a shop assistant, then it makes sense.

But otherwise as has been extensively noted on this thread around half of your peers at Oxbridge will be privately educated so it's quite normal there.

It's not just career of course, but your hobbies, social activities, how you spend your weekends, taking part in some activities; depending on your choices for you and your family you will find that privately educated peers are the norm.

For that reason the same principle applies in reverse - how can you understand the interesting specimens inside the cage when you went to a bog-standard comprehensive? I personally haven't fully got a handle on them.

MordionAgenos Mon 07-Jan-13 13:07:22

There appear to be multiple discussions going on in this thread. I certainly don't have a problem at all with Seeker's thesis that opportunities should be extended beyond those born to them (well, I wouldn't really, would I, in the circumstances! grin ) For me though, the key issue isn't that oxford and cambridge should change what they are. They should continue to be elite (on the basis of ability) and where tradition works for them then I don't see why they should dump it (although I was careful to apply to the university that was more relaxed about gowns in general and a college that was super relaxed about all that guff, in particular). What absolutely HAS to change is that at present, all the kids who might want to go there, maybe, and who could go there, based on ability, aren't even applying. And that has to change. And, again using myself as an example, continuously focussing on the negative 'you'll never get in, you're too working class, too council flat, too minority heritage, you didn't go to one of a handful of state schools so you will NEVER get in so don't bother' isn't going to help with that. We should always try to be as encouraging as possible, and pointing out all the people like me who did manage it, and who are in no way super duper or magical. That is they way to practically demonstrate to kids that it isn't a pipe dream, it's a genuine thing to go for.

JoanByers Mon 07-Jan-13 13:13:12

That seems like an ambition too far to me Mordion. The British education system has been thoroughly dumbed down, and I don't know how you can expect all of these 'bog-standard comprehensives' to transcend that and motivate children to want to go to Oxbridge. The goal, quite clearly, has been anti-elitism - in other words we are not particularly interested, as a nation, in producing dynamic, innovative proplr, but rather in producing a nation of university-educated shopkeepers.

Given the increase from 10% or so to 50% or whatever it is now going to university clearly there will be much less focus on the demands of Oxbridge, not more.

LaVolcan Mon 07-Jan-13 13:53:36

continuously focussing on the negative 'you'll never get in, you're too working class, too council flat, too minority heritage, you didn't go to one of a handful of state schools so you will NEVER get in so don't bother'

Mordion: I have to agree with you here - this attitude was present in my mediocre girls grammar school a generation ago and while I won't say it hasn't changed since, I think it's still more prevalent than it should be.

JoanByers: I don't think it's a question of education being dumbed down - I think it was inherent from the start - the upper classes sent their sons (not daughters) to Eton etc. while the working classes, the majority, had sufficient elementary education as to make them employable.

MordionAgenos Mon 07-Jan-13 14:05:42

LaVolcan It was an attitude I never encountered from anyone, from primary school onwards (and to be fair from my parents too) people couldn't have been more encouraging. I was lucky in that respect (although one primary school teacher did tell me that since the 11+ had been abolished in our borough the year before I had no chance of going to the former grammar cos of where I lived. She was wrong. But to be fair in that conversation she opened with 'you'd have walked the 11+. BUT.....' grin She was actually lovely, she was bemoaning the impact she assumed the abolition of the 11+ would have on those of us at the primary from the wrong side of the tracks (ie the council estate). Most of us were accepted by the former grammar though, so she needn't have worried. AND we got the bus money back off the council too, which was good and wouldn't happen today).

Having not encountered that negative attitude about Cambridge when I was young, imagine how sad it makes me to see it all around me where I live now (where practically everyone I see displaying it is actually rather posher and richer than my family were when I was a kid). And to see it in threads like these. I find it really depressing.

Bonsoir Mon 07-Jan-13 14:18:12

"Your "if you give poor people baths they'll only keep coal in them" attitude is, frankly, repugnant."

I have not expressed that view anywhere, seeker.

Elibean Mon 07-Jan-13 14:45:06

Mordion, your post reminded me of how I was actively discouraged from applying for Oxford during my A-levels - not because of my background (daughter of an Oxford academic, had 9 good o levels, etc etc) but because the tutor in question (at a college of FE) was bitter, and judgemental. I applied through my old school in the end, and got in (but didn't go, preferring to get out of my home town).

My step-sister, who was at the Lycee, was also actively discouraged by her tutor on the grounds that she 'just wasn't the Oxford type' but was encouraged by her step-father, a retired Oxford don, and did get in and went.

I suppose what I'm thinking is that encouragement/discouragement is just as much to do with individual biases and judgement as it is to do with a potential candidate's background/school. All anecdotal, I know...

Elibean Mon 07-Jan-13 14:47:03

Do people honestly aspire for their children to become one thing or another? shock

I must be very naive. I want my children to have choices, but I certainly don't have aspirations for them to 'be' or 'do' anything specific. Perish the thought.

LaVolcan Mon 07-Jan-13 14:48:28

Mordion - thinking about your reply...

I started a PGCE 15 years ago (but never finished.) One of my placements was in an inner city school, where the attitude was very much 'what can you do with children like these?' Not much, was the implication. There was no question of saying 'some of these children have poor parenting, how can we overcome this?' Then again, last year: "you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear" from a friend who taught in one of the 'more challenging' areas of the town i.e. a school on a run down council estate, where the problem families get dumped.

With attitudes like that, it does seem that the cards are stacked against such children.

However, I will admit, not all schools in such areas are like this.

MordionAgenos Mon 07-Jan-13 14:50:27

Elibean - hopefully you were happy in the end with the choices you made? Your step sister also. I agree with you that it usually does come down to individual bias as much as anything else. But it's sad to see. As for anecdote - at least we know we are talking about something real that genuinely happened. This thread and its predecessor have demonstrated quite well that there are stats and stats and only a true expert (knowing what biases were employed in the methodology for capturing and then interpreting the stats) can actually deploy them with any authority. grin

MordionAgenos Mon 07-Jan-13 14:51:48

My only aspiration for my kids is to be tall. Sadly it looks like none of them will be. sad Other than that - it's their life, not mine. My job is to make sure that I do my best for them. Sadly I didn't invest in a rack. sad

Bonsoir Mon 07-Jan-13 14:53:18

My business is to ensure my children have every possible opportunity to develop fully as humans. What they then do is up to them.

Elibean Mon 07-Jan-13 17:13:20

Mordiongrin

Yes, I loved my Uni days (in London, far freer than I would have been home in Oxford) and my step sister loved hers.

Tallness....ah if only...<remembers aspirational teen days in platform shoes>

Elibean Mon 07-Jan-13 17:15:54

I agree, Bonsoir. My job is to do my best to provide my children with the environment, support and opportunities that let them thrive in as many ways as possible.

Its just that someone lower down in the thread was talking about aspiring towards specific jobs/careers - which I definitely don't.

Although I know many people, of my parents' age, who grew up rebelling against, or conforming with, parental expectations of that ilk.

MordionAgenos Mon 07-Jan-13 17:20:34

There was another thread, a while back, about either posh schools or grammar schools, where a poster commented that everyone in a particular class or year group or something like that wanted to be an accountant and how dull that was. grin

The only thing I have ever said to my kids (apart from the obvious do as I say not as I do) is that the days of a job for life are long gone and portfolio careers seem to be the future for most people, and given that, it's much better to do something you will like rather than something you think will be a safe bet, because there are no safe bets.

I expect Xenia will be along in a minute to say that everyone should aim to be a city lawyer though. grin

Being happy and fulfilled is the main thing. Apart from being tall. Obvs.

seeker Mon 07-Jan-13 17:24:06

"I agree, Bonsoir. My job is to do my best to provide my children with the environment, support and opportunities that let them thrive in as many ways as possible."
I agree. That is our job as parents. How about our job as members of society?

Bonsoir Mon 07-Jan-13 17:42:57

Our job as members of society is (a) to pay taxes (b) to look out for our nearest and dearest and our neighbours.

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 17:49:10

What, not to express any interest in the wider world around us????

Bonsoir Mon 07-Jan-13 17:49:57

That's not a job.

creamteas Mon 07-Jan-13 17:53:12

Bonsoir that is really limited, so if you live in millionaires row, you don't have to care about anyone who isn't a millionaire.

I pay my taxes (and would happily pay more if it would improve things), care about family, friends and neighbours - but also want to society to reduce inequality and disadvantage.

creamteas Mon 07-Jan-13 17:53:50

If you have the ability to vote, then it is part of your job....

MordionAgenos Mon 07-Jan-13 18:04:35

I think some people think their job as members of society is to be naysaying sucking gloomsinks of despair. Others think their job is to be Pollyanna. The truth as almost always lies somewhere in the middle but I strongly believe that articulate educated people should be careful about the way they voice their concerns and try their best not to spread disinformation - or biased information - which suits their political objectives but which may also materially affect the opportunities of other less fortunate people. Too many people focus so much on the difficulties and completely forget to add the useful information that many things are in fact far from impossible, whatever your background.

creamteas Mon 07-Jan-13 18:16:51

Yes Mordion but whilst misinformation is a problem, so are the very real barriers that are unnecessary.

All to often the rhetoric of meritocracy does not match to the reality. We need to both encourage those who are able, and remove unnecessarily and unfair disadvantage.

Bonsoir Mon 07-Jan-13 18:41:21

I have little faith in individuals to make institutional, top-down improvements to the lot of the least advantaged members of society.

I have great faith in the ability of individuals to support,encourage and nurture their neighbours who are far less advantaged than they are.

Yellowtip Mon 07-Jan-13 18:44:27

'Gloomsinks of despair': so gaelic! grin. Teachers need to get a grip and tell the bright kids to go for it and leave politics and/ or timorousness behind. Applying is only one choice of five; better to waste it at the top end than the bottom. No-one these days need feel isolated or 'different' at Oxford or Cambridge: intelligence is the best leveller of all. Completely agree about stats.

Yellowtip Mon 07-Jan-13 18:47:55

Gaelic, sorry - how rude.

seeker Mon 07-Jan-13 18:49:19

I love gloomsinks. I will, if you don't mind, mordion, use it soon and often.

seeker Mon 07-Jan-13 18:50:37

"I have great faith in the ability of individuals to support,encourage and nurture their neighbours who are far less advantaged than they are."

How do you do this in your own life?

LaVolcan Mon 07-Jan-13 18:54:39

Applying is only one choice of five; better to waste it at the top end than the bottom. Then there is clearing for some more choice, if necessary.

I wish a few more people had this attitude - rather than the one my headmistress had of going on an on about having a second string to your bow. So much so, that the safe choice became the main one.

Elibean Mon 07-Jan-13 18:58:29

I love gloomsinks too, and sense a new MN-developed-language-morphing word, along the lines of fanjo, soon to be in common usage...

Seeker, absolutely. I was talking about our job as parents (or part of our job as parents). As a member of society - oh, that is a hard one, and I've not thought about it enough. I tend to muddle through. But I do think holding all human life as essentially valuable and equal and trying to live the way I think - although frequently failing, no doubt - matters.

Tasmania Mon 07-Jan-13 19:13:44

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

and

A few years ago I was employed to sit with a yr10/11 child in every lesson for a couple of months (covering mat leave) at a well regarded grammar school... But what struck me was the lack of debate/discussion.

I haven't read this entire thread but when I read the above, they strongly resonated with me. In fact, someone I know who is involved in Oxbridge admission (as it goes, for Maths), and I hear time and time again how candidates were not up to scratch. The one reason I know to be true with science subjects specifically is - I believe - the way teachers are recruited in the UK state school system. Forgive me if I'm wrong as I didn't go to secondary school here, but while DH was doing his PhD (in a heavy science subject), some of his 'colleagues' actually wanted to go on and teach that subject in a normal, state school. One might say, even, that throughout their PhDs, they were rather left-leaning. Guess what - after finishing their PhD one went to teach at a local private secondary school and the other at Harrow. The main reason for this being that the state school system required them to do a teacher's training course - which is stupid, in my point of view, considering they have been teaching undergraduates for a few years by that point. Then, I hear from some people that some teachers at a state school do not even have a degree in the subject they are teaching!!!

How do you expect such a teacher to teach that subject? Or even teach it BEYOND the A-level syllabus (for that, I would expect someone to actually have studied beyond a first degree as you need to be quite well ahead of those you are actually teaching)?

Also, when I did come here to study (top uni often featuring in these threads), I was a little alarmed that a lot of my contemporaries from the state (mostly grammar) school sector who got straight A's were nowhere near as confident as their private school counterparts. Where I went to school (abroad), participation in class (debates, discussions, etc.) accounted for 50% of your grade. So, in very rough terms, let's say you got an A on your exam paper, but you were mute in class - the best you could ever hope for was a B-/C+. So the second statement quoted above must be right...

JoanByers Mon 07-Jan-13 19:21:43

Haha.

I love the left-leaning teachers who go teach and get 'cured' by the scrotes in the local comp.

I know one pair of Guardian readers who were both teachers in North London. It was horrendous. They moved to the country, she to have kids, and he to work in the City.

FWIW, I think some subjects tend to be more left-leaning than others, English and Humanities more so than Maths and Sciences. I reckon, talking out my arse here mind, that the leftie English teachers would probably be more likely to go to try and 'inspire' the local kids at the state comp whereas the maths and science teachers would be less concerned about such ideological concerns and would head off to the leafy private school.....

Tasmania Mon 07-Jan-13 19:34:41

*My understanding is that Durham, Bristol and some other universities have the same problems as Oxbridge in getting applications from kids from low-income families/comprehensive schools.

They don't interview.

They don't wear gowns to dine or to sit exams.*

Oh - they do interview some these days. And in case of the former, the bl**dy hell do wear gowns for formals!!!

Tasmania Mon 07-Jan-13 19:38:08

... not that I mind the gowns and interviews.

Seriously, every kid in this generation has watched Harry Potter, so a gown should be no deterrent.

And interviews - they better get used to it earlier rather than later!!!

seeker Mon 07-Jan-13 19:58:53

"I love the left-leaning teachers who go teach and get 'cured' by the scrotes in the local comp."

I can't believe I actually read that sentence. "Scrotes in the local comp"

Fuck me.

MordionAgenos Mon 07-Jan-13 20:03:51

Of course you can use it, seeker! grin it's a phrase often applied to me, especially when I'm about to depart for Forn Parts (as now) with my material most decidedly Not Written.

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 20:06:06

What can she use? Fuck me or scrote?

MordionAgenos Mon 07-Jan-13 20:08:41

Read the thread!

seeker Mon 07-Jan-13 20:09:51

thanknyou mordion- I've never heard it before and I love it. I thought it was your own!

I don't know why, but the "scrotes" comment has really knocked the stuffing out of me- how could anyone use a word like that about a class of 11 year old's?

MordionAgenos Mon 07-Jan-13 20:10:55

But she can call me a scrote if she wants, too. grin

If I leant any more left, I'd fall over.

MordionAgenos Mon 07-Jan-13 20:13:01

It is my own. But my colleagues embraced it with glee. In my organisation there is an entire vocabulary they call mordionspeak. It's necessary to be fluent in it to get the best out of my stuff. grin

MordionAgenos Mon 07-Jan-13 20:14:36

You have to say sucking gloomsink to get the full impact though. My dark tea times of the soul (that ones Douglas adams's) can infect an entire office. Oh yes.

MordionAgenos Mon 07-Jan-13 20:16:01

Actually scrote is a very usual norf London term. It's quite mild. Honestly.

Tasmania Mon 07-Jan-13 20:27:54

What happens in usa how many state schools get into ivy league harvard and yale is it problem exclusive to uk?

While the very rich do send their kids to private schools in the U.S., some of them don't. The reason? The quality of state schools are heavily dependent on the area that surrounds them - and I mean not just because of the social class of their catchment area, but financially... with PTA 'donations' PER CHILD often going in the thousands (so despite it being a 'state school', it still is sort of privately funded). A lot of people move into a wealthy area to provide their kids with a good education, even if it means packing a family of four into a tiny 2-bed flat because they can't afford anything else. The famous Beverly High is a state school, same goes for Malibu High... and loads of film stars send their kids there. I went to school in the 'posh part of town' in the U.S. for a while, and couldn't quite believe the difference to the other side of town. Might as well have been different cities/countries.

However, prior to the financial crisis, a lot of the posh boarding schools actually offered their spaces needs blind, i.e. if your kid passes admission, the school will move heaven and earth (via their endowment fund) to enable him/her to study there. That's why you get amazing stories about kids coming from the ghetto to these schools, often studying in the tiny family bathroom for the entrance exam because there's no other place in the house. A very, very large proportion (we're talking up to about 80%) of students at those schools are given financial aid (up to 100% of tuition fees and other expenses), so not quite the same as here in the UK, where that system is desirable but doesn't yet exist. I think that sort of guarantee has declined though due to the financial crisis.

Harvard - as far as I am aware - is also needs-blind, when you read the following statement from their website:

In the past decade we have increased financial aid for low and middle income families by over 180%, and in 2011-12 we will award $166M in need-based grant assistance. No contribution is expected from parents with incomes under $65,000. Beginning with the class of 2016, those parents with annual incomes between $65,000 and $150,000 are asked to contribute from zero to ten percent of their income. Some families with incomes above $150,000 still qualify for aid.

I have to say, that's wonderfully generous, and accounts for all those 'poorer' students from the UK applying to the U.S.

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 20:54:54

A family of 4 in a tiny 2-bed flat is pretty spacious in the UK! grin

Tasmania Mon 07-Jan-13 21:00:49

A family of 4 in a tiny 2-bed flat is pretty spacious in the UK!

Not if you hear what people in the UK get subsidized sometimes - something about siblings shouldn't be sharing a room or something... confused

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 21:20:46

"If you hear what people in the UK get subsidized sometimes." So, you've "heard" about this. Have you ever met these people? Because I haven't met any of those but I know plenty of people living in tiny flats with several children... how very silly of them not to realise they could be subsidised to live somewhere more spacious. hmm

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 21:22:39

And bollocks about siblings not sharing a room, anyway. I think the rule is siblings of the opposite sex once they reach a certain age, which does not happen to be the law if you rent privately as the majority of people do - you can have them all sleeping together in the same bed then, so far as I'm aware, which I suspect even in Victorian times was something poor families tended to try and avoid.

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 21:23:26

(siblings of the opposite sex, I mean, rather than bed sharing with the same sex... smile).

JoanByers Mon 07-Jan-13 21:44:36

I'm not sure if the scrotes were 11 or 16. I didn't probe into it that deeply.

Yellowtip Mon 07-Jan-13 21:56:07

Three of my girls (aged 22, 21 and 20) still have to share when they come home from university and three of my boys do too (18, 16, 15) And then the two smallest share. It's cosy. Well, 'cosy' maybe. It can be quarrelsome tbh (the girls, not the boys) but it's also very clearly survivable. Some people are just so precious.

happygardening Mon 07-Jan-13 22:14:51

rabbit those claiming housing benefit will be told how much housing benefit they are entitled too according to how many bedrooms you need this applies if you rent privately or social housing. Children of the opposite sex I think over 11 yrs old are not expected to share a room so if you have 1 boy and 1 girl and wish to claim HB you will be given an allowance that is meant to mean that you can rent a three bedroomed house at the local rate (in practice of course it doesnt) the amount you are entitled to will obviously be less if you have children of the same sex because the council will take the view that you need less bedrooms.?

Tasmania Mon 07-Jan-13 22:43:39

Yellow Blimey. Eight kids? Are you supermom or what!?!

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 22:46:48

Not sure why you're telling me, happygardening? It's Tasmania who appears to think people in this country can get subsidies enabling them to ensure every child gets a separate bedroom, regardless of available housing stock or the sex and age of the children, not me...
Yellowtip - who do you think is "so precious"????

JoanByers Mon 07-Jan-13 22:56:44

The allowance is based on the 30th percentile rent for the area. The area may be Fairly large so in some parts of the area it will be easier to find properties at the HB rate.

Yellowtip Mon 07-Jan-13 22:56:57

Anyone at all, including the authorities, who suggest that kids will be irrevocably damaged if they have to share a room.

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 22:57:09

ps I'm also very impressed by the number of children you have produced, Yellowtip - assuming they are all biologically yours! I note that you don't mix the boys in with the girls in the older age groupings, though. Would you (and they) happily do this??? Or are you too precious? grin And how do you fit 3 in a room? They must be reasonably large rooms to fit in a bunk bed plus one other? Or have very high ceilings?

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 22:57:30

Or do they share a big bed?

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 23:01:25

I've never known anyone suggest that room sharing irrevocably damages people. Although I'd feel a bit sorry for myself if an elderly relative moved in for me to care for them and the only room I could offer them was a share of my own bedroom grin.

Yellowtip Mon 07-Jan-13 23:03:41

Yes I remember their births rabbit: all biologically mine. The sequence is three girls then three boys so it always made sense not to mix them. No bunks, just beds very close together. I suppose the girls room is big, but it doubles as the homework room too. I am beginning to fret about the youngest two though. One boy, one girl, currently sharing a box.

Yellowtip Mon 07-Jan-13 23:05:37

Can't believe you don't know parents who think that to fulfil its potential each child must have it's own suite ....

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 23:08:35

I'm genuinely impressed! That is a lot of children for this day and age. You must have had to be incredibly organised to keep the household running when they were little, given the closeness in ages. Do you ever annoy them by calling them by the wrong names? It used to annoy me intensely when my mother did that to me, yet I occasionally find myself doing it and I only have 2 children, so far less excuse than she ever had!!!

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 23:09:23

Yellowtip - not sure who you are talking to? Who thinks that for a child to fulfil its potential, each child must have its own suite? Even Tasmania didn't claim that.

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 23:10:26

Are there really parents who think that? Oh dear. I now realise I have mixed with very downmarket company. sad. I always thought I was rather posh.

rabbitstew Mon 07-Jan-13 23:11:21

I always had my own bedroom, after all. grin

grovel Mon 07-Jan-13 23:13:00

Tas, my DS is at Durham. He was not interviewed and in 2 years there has never worn a gown. Ever.

Yellowtip Mon 07-Jan-13 23:21:34

I do get rather told off by other parents rabbit. And the DC assure me that I do vastly more annoying things on a regular basis than merely calling them by the wrong names. They're fairly voluble about it actually.

grovel the students at Castle still wear gowns for formal I think, though interviews went out years ago. There are far more applicants per place at Durham than at either Oxford or Cambridge: logistically it couldn't be done.

mumzy Mon 07-Jan-13 23:26:21

One of the reasons why indies send many more dcs to Oxbridge is because they offer subjects which are rarely found in state schools now such as Latin/ Greek, unusual modern languages. Whenever schools publish the number of pupils they send to Oxbridge check out the subjects they're reading many of them play the system of getting their pupils to apply for unpopular or obscure courses which are easier to get on as less competition such as Old Norse to up their annual Oxbridge quota.

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 00:24:57

I can't account for other independents sending a high % to Oxbridge but my DS seems to think physics is the subject most boys he talks to are planning to studyand as chemistry and Physics are the most popular subject taken at Pre U this would make sense. I somehow doubt few go on from his school to study "Old Norse."

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 01:07:37

grovel - it depends on the college. The more modern "Hill" colleges don't (with a few exceptions), but some of the more traditional "Bailey" colleges do. Unless it has changed since I was there (my Alma Mater). Re interviews - I was never interviewed either, but in my understanding, some people do get interviewed these days... which was surprising. Might be for highly popular subjects / people who weren't dead certs?

Thinking about it, maybe there IS a link between state school applications & traditional places after all... State school students tended to be in the Hill colleges (they used to be a lot more diverse, too) while public school students used to go for the Bailey colleges. Never understood how you could ever be intimidated by tradition and old buildings though!

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 01:09:00

The first three sentences above relate to the gowns...

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 01:16:35

Ah... there are exceptional cases where they do interviews such as in Medicine, where it's compulsory, apparently...

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 01:28:09

happy - Physics is immensely popular these days. Can't help thinking it's due to The Big Bang Theory. Makes it cool to be a nerd... finally. My much younger brother is literally aiming to be a nerd (incl. joining Mensa, etc.)...

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 05:46:39

TAs my DS"s school has a reputation promoted according to the Tattler Good Schools Guide as being a school for geeks and nerds!

Mominatrix Tue 08-Jan-13 06:35:28

Going back to the comment on the US, school tax is a line item on a resident's local tax bill and the amount reflects the wealth of the area and is paid by every household irrespective of if they have children or if they use state v private schools. My parents live in the mid-west of the US in a very nice area. Their school tax is over $10,000 a year. Needless to say, the local high school is very nice with facilities better than most privates I have visited.

seeker Tue 08-Jan-13 06:55:53

"Never understood how you could ever be intimidated by tradition and old buildings though!"

Really? You must be blessed with extreme self confidence, then! Or perhaps you were brought up with such things?

JoanByers- do you really feel comfortable using language like that about vast swathes of the country's children?

rabbitstew Tue 08-Jan-13 07:47:09

I don't think old buildings and old traditions are particularly intimidating if you aren't from a culture where they are considered important: they are just curiosities, then, aren't they?

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 07:53:48

Tas whilst you may agree with my comment: "A few years ago I was employed to sit with a yr10/11 child in every lesson for a couple of months (covering mat leave) at a well regarded grammar school... But what struck me was the lack of debate/discussion."
Some others felt that this was because this was not a "good school" it is this state education is brilliant what I can only describe as complacency that must be one of the factors in the lower numbers from state ed with a similiarish intake going to the likes of Oxbridge.

Yellowtip Tue 08-Jan-13 08:05:21

Can you re-phrase that happy? (not clear what it means). But if you think the best state schools are 'complacent' then you're quite simply wrong. No leading school will stay in the lead by being complacent. The teaching in the school you describe sounds very dull indeed. It doesn't sound anything like the teaching in the leading state schools, even if this school muddles up the league tables because it's a grammar. It sounds complacent but that doesn't mean all other schools are.

The college application system has changed entirely now Tas.

Yellowtip Tue 08-Jan-13 08:06:29

At Durham that is. So in effect a student can't choose, or has limited opportunity to choose.

Yellowtip Tue 08-Jan-13 08:15:54

All medical schools interview Tas and Durham will interview in other subjects for mature applicants etc. Given that a huge percentage of both Oxford and Cambridge applicants also apply to Durham, it simply wouldn't be feasible to interview. When it did interview, Durham left the interviews until January to make sure it didn't waste time and resources on Oxford and Cambridge offerees.

Bonsoir Tue 08-Jan-13 08:18:06

Being able to take on board and enjoy interesting architecture ("old buildings") is part of being a developed, educated person. Being intimated by "old buildings" is a failure of education.

I'm not sure how, in the UK, where there is quite so much emphasis on our built heritage, how anyone can be intimated by it. How can the BBC and the National Trust pass anyone by? And that is just for starters.

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 08:25:46

I checked this schools position in the league tables ( I have to be a little vague to protect the anonymity of the child as this was a very unique situation) but this school is in the top twentyish state schools in the UK and in the top 6ish in the county its "value added" score is also exceedingly high higher than the schools above it on the league tables. The school regularly out performed (although interestingly not for Oxbridge entry) a famous selective independent school in the same location and was proud of this fact.
The parents believed it was a good school and I think by any measure there belief was probably correct. One of the points here is that we as parents do not know exactly what goes on in a classroom, we only think we know I just happened to observe first hand what went on. As I've said the teaching was generally good although one hot summer afternoon in a science lesson we all fell asleep including the teacher becasue the blinds were down as we were watching a film!!

Yellowtip Tue 08-Jan-13 08:28:06

happy with respect I might be an OFSTED inspector. It sounds a poor school, teaching wise - no question.

seeker Tue 08-Jan-13 08:31:39

I hate to descend to anecdotage, but some on here will have heard already the story of the mother of a friend of my dd's, who was so intimidated by a branch of Waterstone's that she felt unable to ask the person behind the counter for what she wanted. I am fairly sure that without significant support from outside his family, there is no way her very bright child would even think of a "top" university.

I suspect that some people on here (please note the use of "some') have no idea at all about the lives many other people live.

Bonsoir, you are descending into self parody now. You may need to rein in the personality you have created- there is a limit to the credulity of even a mumsnet audience. Well done, though, this is the first false step.

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 08:33:04

Ofstead inspection = outstanding. I'm very sceptical about these things in both the state and independent sectors so didn't bother to mention it. Maybe its me and I have incorrect and unrealistic expectations of what I think should be happening in lessons.

Yellowtip Tue 08-Jan-13 08:35:48

I share your expectations then happy. That teaching wouldn't score an 'outstanding', not as you characterise it at least.

Bonsoir Tue 08-Jan-13 08:44:58

seeker - your patronising attitude towards those you consider "less privileged" than yourself and your own children is repugnant. Think about it.

seeker Tue 08-Jan-13 08:47:24

Thought. Nope, can't see it. Explain.

Bonsoir Tue 08-Jan-13 08:49:38

No, you cannot see it - that much is clear, or you wouldn't carry on and on banging your "seeker to the rescue to those poor people who don't have access to civilisation" drum.

MordionAgenos Tue 08-Jan-13 08:51:16

@seeker better to descend to anecdote than quote misleading data

MordionAgenos Tue 08-Jan-13 08:52:38

Sorry that should have been 'data'. Mums netting from a phone in an overcrowded departure lounge full of irate delayed would be travellers isn't ideal.

MordionAgenos Tue 08-Jan-13 08:56:18

Seeker - the old buildings comment was a bit silly. Yes, I'm not as posh as you. But most people growing up in England will see old buildings every day. Unless you are growing up in Milton Keynes I suppose. Even cities which were smashed by beidecker raids in the war still have some old buildings.

seeker Tue 08-Jan-13 08:57:03

grin

You mean those people charmingly described on here as "scrotes at the local comp?" The ones you step over on the way to the opera?

seeker Tue 08-Jan-13 08:58:51

mordion- I did assume "old buildings" was a sort of shorthand!

Bonsoir Tue 08-Jan-13 09:00:55

seeker - do not ascribe to me positions I do not have and have never adopted on MN in riposte to critiques of positions you adopt on here continually. It makes you look very silly.

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 09:23:16

Yellow some more anecdotal experience so beloved/hated on MN. Many years ago I had an excellent job the standards of were I believed high the staff generally hard working and conscientious. Even in those days outcomes were being measure and we were not under performing I think most staff went home at night believing they had tried hard with the restrictions of resources (read money)and facilities we had available to us most of the staff had only worked in this environment or others very similar which I have to say predominate. Being a restless nomadic type by nature after five years I got the same job (still state sector) but in anther location. This was a flagship deportment for the UK what went on their if proven to be successful would be eventually rolled out across the UK, should money ever be found, here the sky was the limit (we unfortunately have since indulged in two pointless wars so that money is now not available but thats another story). I felt like it transferred to another country it was unbelievable. when I told my friends from the other job they couldn't believe it "you mean you can do X in an hour?" How many staff did you say they were?" "Did I understand you right you don't have to waste hours doing photocopying they actually employ someone just to that?" and soon and so on. What I'm trying to say is that most people have no current experience of what goes in those top five they do not send their children to these schools so how can they really know. They like my colleagues and I think they know and probably like my colleagues and I think that the difference is not that great but I think if you actually had an opportunity to experience the reality you would be completely amazed at how different this small group and a few other actually is. This combined with other factors especially expectation is why they get so many into Oxbridge and other leading universities. You may be interested to know by the way that inevitably the measured outcomes for the "better" department were the highest in the UK they also had one of the most deprived catchment areas in the UK it was only when I went there that I really understood what "rough" meant.

Bonsoir Tue 08-Jan-13 09:27:22

Indeed, happygardening, free flowing resources on tap for year and years undoubtedly help the best pupils do even better. The state (and even less well endowed private schools) are never, ever going to match that kind of educational support. Is that a reason for denying resources to the few à la française?

Yellowtip Tue 08-Jan-13 09:30:07

happy you seem pretty peaceable so with that caveat: gosh, you're patronising! I have a clear idea of what goes on in top schools in both sectors as a matter of fact. The fact remains that the school you describe sounds as if it has teachers whose teaching style is DULL. Therefore I wouldn't want my kids to attend. There are plenty of dull grammars around and I wouldn't measure excellence purely on the external tick box report.

Yellowtip Tue 08-Jan-13 09:32:04

The numbers going to Oxford and Cambridge (as opposed to the relative successs rate - different thing) is a separate issue from workaday teaching of course.

Off anywhere decent Mordion?

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 09:41:11

Im not trying to be patronising at all and Im not justifying the situation either in my professional experience or experience of school but so many say (ok maybe not you) "what goes on at the likes of Eton and others is no different to that which goes on in their excellent state school be it selective or non selective. Of course my child has the same opportunities whether in or out of the classroom." I think many out there have no idea what these children have if we as a nation are going to broaden access to top universities then we need to stop being complacent we need to see these schools as "flagships" instead of just bastions of privilege what they do works the stats show us that and just like in my job some of it could not be replicated much of it could.

seeker Tue 08-Jan-13 09:54:32

Bonsoir- right back atcha!grin

I do think you're right, happy, in that for the vast majority, the reality of what's available at places like Eton is just so far outside their experience that they can't imagine it.

I have two children in two different schools with very different intakes and "mission statements", and the difference in what's available and expected at these two state schools a couple of miles apart is staggering. I am sure that the difference between them and Eton is more than staggering.

All the more reason to think of ways of narrowing the gap in availability and and expectation. You can't make a horse drink- but you can, surely, make sure that it has equal access to the water?

Yellowtip Tue 08-Jan-13 09:57:44

I'm absolutely sure that these top schools in both sectors have a great deal to offer beyond the confines of their walls - and they do try to be fair. But it's an unbelievably vast job and there's no getting away from the fact that they're almost all highly selective, with all the advantage in terms of teaching that that entails.

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 10:01:10

Yes seeker make the water equal and also learn from those who are succeeding. Just like in my job we need these flagships they showed me and others what is possible incidentally much of their approach was created because their catchment was so deprived and therefore they had to think outside of the box. It must be possible to overcome peoples gown/old building/meaningless ritual phobia (ok maybe not the latter) even if they are "scrots" (what a truly hideous term) living in social housing in the most deprived areas in the UK. Even those at the very bottom of the pile given the right assistance will engage.

rabbitstew Tue 08-Jan-13 10:02:19

happygardening - have you sat in on your ds's lessons? You make lots of negative comments about the grammar school, but you haven't ever said whether you have a similar experience of sitting through lessons at Winchester, or Eton, or any of the other big public schools. Or are you one of those contented parents who assumes the teaching is all phenomenal?
Also, I know it's picky, but you frequently type there instead of their, its instead of it's and theres instead of there's. It wouldn't normally grate, except that you talk so much about low standards. If you are going to comment about others' low standards, it is beholden upon you to retain very high standards of your own, imo.

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 10:06:10

But yellow other highly selective schools schools even in the independent sector have similar results in terms of a level grades but a significantly lower number attending top universities Im not sure why. Is it simply becasue these schools are just vastly superior in everything they do? Is the type of parents are they simply more aspirational? Do they just have more experience?

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 10:10:17

"Never understood how you could ever be intimidated by tradition and old buildings though!"

Really? You must be blessed with extreme self confidence, then! Or perhaps you were brought up with such things?

I don't get intimidated by them - seriously, I don't. In fact, I embrace them!!! But then again - as said - I didn't go to school here prior to uni, and was never marked by the class system that seems to be well and truly alive and kicking.

But from an outsider's point of view... why on earth do you need extreme self confidence to NOT be intimidated by tradition and old buildings? Celebrating Christmas/Hanukkah, etc. is a tradition. I guess no one minds that. A building is something humans built.

When I was in my secondary school (abroad), our Art teacher once showed us two buildings - one built in the 18th century and one was one of those modern 60s buildings. He asked us which one we preferred. To his astonishment the whole class of eight (!!!) picked the older building. The teacher was of that generation (probably 60s) who was very pro "out with the old, in with the new" and viewed such old buildings as oppressive. Seems like his younger charges disagreed.

That's one thing - class sizes. I always used to say that the schools my kids would go to should be of the same quality if not better than the ones I went to. Looking around, I would have no other option but going private! At most schools I've been to (mostly in the state sector - but as said, abroad), there were never more than 20 students in one class. Often, just around 8 students. People don't seem to emphasize this enough, but I was always a bit shy as a kid, and that helped!

I guess my answer the the original question of the OP would be, I would go for the state if it provided the same quality education - and class sizes do matter for me.

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 10:19:47

rabbit I have "moderate" dyslexia and unfortunately cant (can't) spell any word with more than two syllables correctly and also write most words around the wrong way. I have to patiently spell check everything I write which i find tedious and therefore dont (don't) change the obvious Im (I'm) sorry if this irritates you i (I) will try harder in future.
Actually I have sat in a few lessons (not at Winchester/Eton) but at another school there was a marked contrast maybe bought about by the smaller classroom making it easier to spark debate? Also as as governor (past life) I know that the kind of debating encouraged in 7 yr olds at my DS's prep; this house believes etc was certainly not occurring in any primary school in the area I lived in. Don't get me wrong there are some rubbish teachers in all schools and one mans inspirational teacher is another ones nightmare. Some teachers are very like marmite. Also some children hate being asked to debate things finding it very embarrassing I know I did as a teenager.

rabbitstew Tue 08-Jan-13 10:26:40

Sorry, happygardening - it wouldn't normally irritate, it's just the way you talk about grammar school students not knowing what a semi-colon is, etc, that irritated, when you were making so many similar mistakes yourself! Grammar schools actually contain a fair proportion of dyslexics, children with high functioning autism and dyspraxics, given that these disabilities often do go hand in hand with high compensating abilities. I doubt you get such a high proportion of such children in the super selective public schools to which you refer????? It is quite possible, regardless of your education, to be both highly intelligent and worthy academically of a place at a top university, and not brilliant at spelling, grammar or public speaking.

MordionAgenos Tue 08-Jan-13 10:36:28

@yellow. No. Cyprus. Flight delayed 2.5 hours and counting. Got up at 5:45. Needlessly it transpires. Material not finished. sad

MordionAgenos Tue 08-Jan-13 10:38:59

Rabbit. Indeed. I can't spell. I can't walk across a room without tripping up. I am a brilliant speaker though (which is a shame cos I hate doing it).

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 10:52:39

I hate to descend to anecdotage, but some on here will have heard already the story of the mother of a friend of my dd's, who was so intimidated by a branch of Waterstone's that she felt unable to ask the person behind the counter for what she wanted. I am fairly sure that without significant support from outside his family, there is no way her very bright child would even think of a "top" university.

Well, when I read that... hmm

There's always Amazon! Only time my parents ever got intimidated buying a book in a shop was when they had to buy me the book for sex education!

How come some first generation immigrants (probably not as well off as the woman mentioned in the anecdote above) push their kids to the top while the ones who seem to be British (which I'm guessing the woman above is) don't??

In my younger days of staying late at work in London, I used to talk a lot to this couple employed as cleaners there (because I often used to be the last one in). Their English wasn't great, but they had this sense of positivity about them which was admirable. They were holding two jobs down, and were putting a LOT of effort into their son's education (wouldn't be surprised if they sent their kid to private school with scholarship/bursary). They were so proud when he got the best marks, etc. in his year that they'd actually tell me. Just knowing his parents, I know that kid will one day go far in life. I wished more parents were like that rather than be negative, be intimidated, etc. ...and make their kid believe that nothing is out of their reach.

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 10:55:51

rabbit You might be interested to know that Winchester has a reputation for taking boys with dyslexia aspergers dyspraxia and high functioning autism. It recognises that the brilliant are not necessarily the most "normal".
I was considered by my school to be not worthy of a place at any university becasue of my complete inability to spell, use grammar and write in a coherent and organised fashion. It is in fact going to university that changed that I learnt to write in a significantly more organised and coherent fashion spell check of course had been invented and my DH corrected the grammatical errors. When we did joint assignments by the end fellow students would often say you write it because we cant write like you and we'll find somehow a way of correcting the punctuation and grammatical errors.

rabbitstew Tue 08-Jan-13 11:10:00

Maybe I'll change my mind about where to send my ds1, then. wink

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 11:10:22

Bonsoir, you are descending into self parody now. You may need to rein in the personality you have created- there is a limit to the credulity of even a mumsnet audience. Well done, though, this is the first false step.

I see nothing wrong with what Bonsoir said. Architecture is everywhere around you. It's (mostly) free for you to enjoy! The thing with "old buildings" is that hardly any builder will be able to build them to same quality these days as well. They make you feel like time has frozen - the next best thing to having a time machine.

Unless, of course, you don't think architecture is anything to enjoy... mainly due to inverted snobbery???

seeker Tue 08-Jan-13 11:10:42

"How come some first generation immigrants (probably not as well off as the woman mentioned in the anecdote above) push their kids to the top while the ones who seem to be British (which I'm guessing the woman above is) don't??"

I think you are perpetuating a myth here. Loads of first generation immigrants don't- and loads of indigenous working class people do. But it's very easy to forget that there are more obstacles to overcome than just the academic one's. And denying that there are just entrenches the divide.

Also, loads of first generation immigrants are middle class people with middle class aspirations- just no able to get middle class jobs.

rabbitstew Tue 08-Jan-13 11:15:48

I don't think it's inverted snobbery to feel intimidated by hallowed halls - more like harking back to the days when there was a servants' entrance and a main entrance and certain places the working classes were not at all welcome. "It's not for the likes of you" is not the same thing as "it's all a load of stuffy, pretentious rubbish, anyway."

seeker Tue 08-Jan-13 11:19:56

"I see nothing wrong with what Bonsoir said. Architecture is everywhere around you. It's (mostly) free for you to enjoy! The thing with "old buildings" is that hardly any builder will be able to build them to same quality these days as well. They make you feel like time has frozen - the next best thing to having a time machine.

Unless, of course, you don't think architecture is anything to enjoy... mainly due to inverted snobbery???"

Now that just is a little bit of a silly thing to say!

Just imagine yourself having to go for an interview in a great gothic pile- if you have barely stepped out of your 60s council block except to go to your 60s school. When you have only seen buildings like that on TV programmes narrated by people with posh accents and what seems like unobtainable knowledge, or inhabited by the "Upstairs" folk in Upstairs Downstairs. And if you are surrounded in the "waiting room" for the interview by confident seeming public school folk....... Do you think you would do well?

Actually, I know what you're going to say. You are going to say that, yes, of course you would, because seeing that would make you determined to show that you were as good as them, and all the rest of it. That's great, if you are that sort of person, but not everyone is.

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 11:30:37

Also, loads of first generation immigrants are middle class people with middle class aspirations- just no able to get middle class jobs.

Oh - so the fact that you were born "working class" in the UK and "middle class" abroad, but essentially sit in the same boat over here... makes a difference? Unless working class people and middle class people are completely different species, this doesn't make sense. Aspiration is all in your head really. This sounds a lot like those "This has always been the case, and will always be. Why change?" comments that are infuriating.

It is not necessarily a myth that first generation immigrants aspire to better things. Unless another country will offer you better things, you may never move! Of course, there are those who come to another country, just want to make money and go back home. And there will be those who will inevitably be stuck in a rut. But, by and large, most people moving will have wanted a better future at the beginning of their journey.

If you look at history - a lot of scientists who won Nobel prizes, etc. earlier in the century were the children of first generation immigrants. They were pushed to achieve greater things (and were given plenty of opportunities). There will be some who never make it that far (as not all kids are academic or street-wise to become a financial success), but the fact is that at least some will try.

Not sure how the world of science would look like if they never tried!!!

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 11:40:45

Actually, I know what you're going to say. You are going to say that, yes, of course you would, because seeing that would make you determined to show that you were as good as them, and all the rest of it. That's great, if you are that sort of person, but not everyone is.

Funny - you seem to know me well. The school I last went to was in a 50s building (although mostly because their nice old building was bombed way back in time - our sister school across the road where I did have a few classes was in a building that could have been part of Oxbridge - it was a state school, too). I always had a penchant for older buildings. Always felt more at home and cosy in them than the newer ones. Not sure why.

The fact that people get intimidated by old buildings because of things they watch on TV... that does suggest to me that one watches TV too much.

rabbitstew Tue 08-Jan-13 11:50:20

Surely, almost by definition, an immigrant is someone who "doesn't know their place"? Knowing your place in society can be very destructive if "your place" is firmly at the bottom, so of course it makes a difference if you were brought up to assume you would always be a bottom feeder rather than being brought up to assume that if you take your formidable talents elsewhere and work very hard, someone will have to recognise you for what you really are, eventually. The greater your reserves of self esteem, the longer you can keep banging your head against the apparent brick wall before you give up - if the brick wall exists, that is. All social structures are in peoples' minds - they are created by people. The mind is FAR more powerful than reality... grin

seeker Tue 08-Jan-13 12:03:56

Tasmania - have you ever tried to imagine what it must be like to be someone else? It honestly doesn't sound as if you have!

creamteas Tue 08-Jan-13 12:12:48

I come from a working-class background, left school at 16 and worked in a factory. I went back into eduction by accident (long story). I now have three degrees (BA first, MA distinction, PhD) all from RG universities. The PhD was financed through a ESRC scholarship which was won in a national competition for funding. I am an established academic with a track record of winning research funding and publications.

Yet despite all this, there is still a part of my soul that feels I have no legitimate right to these qualifications and position (despite the fact that I worked bloody hard for them and earned them) and that at some point this will be discovered and they will be removed. This is because of my classed identity and is an established phenomenon (Diane Reay among others has written about this extensively). I don't act on these feelings, but that doesn't make them any less real.

smee Tue 08-Jan-13 12:13:31

Rabbit's right about the power of the mind, but I'd add to it as yes it's about self esteem, but it's also about expectation. You don't bang your head against the brick wall and keep trying if you don't know you have permission to bang at all. My family wasn't at all aspirational and I had no idea that a) I could be, or b) what that meant even. I passed to go to the grammar school and went on to a good university, but it still took me until I was in my thirties to realise I might actually be able to do whatever I wanted to.

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 12:13:49

Seeker - As I said, I didn't grow up in this country. Where I did grow up (lived in several countries actually!) there are plenty of people who are considered "working class" but don't so much think about their place in society. It seems to almost be endemic to the UK!

That said, the grammar school system is everywhere over there, and it's the complete opposite: if you tried to abolish it, there would be an outcry, because by sending your kid to a grammar school if you're working class he/she can better him/herself. Hence, moving up society isn't seen as something nobody can achieve.

So pardon me, if I find it weird that other countries do not quite have such a rigid class structure. Because just because that's what seems to be the norm here in the UK - it doesn't make it right!

So I'd rather say positive things - like say "Look, this person has made it... so why not you?" which should motivate people... rather than say "Pity that, they're intelligent, but will never make it because of this and that."

creamteas Tue 08-Jan-13 12:21:51

Tasmina In all my years studying sociology have never come across a country or culture without some form of elite/other structure, although it might not be class-based in the way it is in the UK (eg in many cases in India caste is the more important divide)

In the UK it is more openly acknowledged than other places, but it is pretty universal.

rabbitstew Tue 08-Jan-13 12:30:34

Tasmania - now try to change the mindset of an entire nation... grin

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 12:30:56

Ok seeker I can buy into this argument:
*Just imagine yourself having to go for an interview in a great gothic pile- if you have barely stepped out of your 60s council block except to go to your 60s school. When you have only seen buildings like that on TV programmes narrated by people with posh accents and what seems like unobtainable knowledge, or inhabited by the "Upstairs" folk in Upstairs Downstairs. And if you are surrounded in the "waiting room" for the interview by confident seeming public school folk....... Do you think you would do well?"
But what do you suggest is done about it? I haven't of the top of my head got any idea.

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 12:33:49

"Maybe I'll change my mind about where to send my ds1, then"
Maybe you should they also offer generous bursaries to those who meet their entrance criteria.

peteneras Tue 08-Jan-13 12:34:15

"All medical schools interview . . . "

Not true.

Some don't.

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 12:36:46

Rabbit lots of gothic building as well so he wont feel in awe at his uni interview.

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 12:37:32

To add to the above - a lot of the people in my school didn't come from the posh side of town, but when I look at what they are doing now... a lot of them achieved more than a lot of "posh" people I know over here.

Of course, there were a few that were so posh that they were pretty much groomed to marry into nobility (which it turns out some did), but in terms of achievement, it's almost the same as everybody else long as people worked hard. The main difference between the two countries seem to be the school system. One has the grammar school system perfectly in place EVERYWHERE, while the other doesn't, making it easier to move up the social strata. Neither is the grammar school system rigid - if you got really good grades from a "lesser" school at GCSE (and in this case we really mean "lesser" as there are hardly any comps that go to the equivalent of A-levels - all the other schools stop at GCSE), you can jump up to a grammar school.

My school seems to have churned out neurologists, lawyers, managers... you name it. One guy a few years above me became quite a big film director - and I was discussing this with DH the other day that it's quite weird that the independent sector is not just overwhelmingly represented in things like politics or business/finance. BUT entertainment and music, too!!! The likes of Chris Martin (Sherborne), Radiohead (Abingdon), and don't even get me started on actors. My Indian friends used to tell me that over there, most of the "posh" people wouldn't even want their kids to go into Bollywood. Apparently, that's normally an area where the "poorer" people can make it. But here in the UK, everything is so god-damn focussed on class and which school you went to, it's mad!!

Yellowtip Tue 08-Jan-13 12:41:25

A huge amount of immigration to the UK hasn't been voluntary. My father had no desire at all to leave his home for good as a child with just a suitcase in hand. No money, no welfare society, huge prejudice against foreigners having jobs. What did people such as him do? It's not surprising that so many children of such immigrants have done fairly well.

Yellowtip Tue 08-Jan-13 12:42:49

The overwhelming majority do peterenas and Durham most certainly does. I'm not sure what your point is really. Very peripheral anyhow.

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 12:46:19

Read the first and last paragraph of this...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/feb/11/britain-earnings-mobility-oecd

It sort of says that having grammar schools doesn't do Germany's social mobility any harm, does it (despite segregation at age 10)??? And the UK got rid of them. Bad, bad move.

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 12:47:04
happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 12:47:39

"BUT entertainment and music, too"
Theres a very simple reason for this; opportunity. At my DS's schools 4-5 plays are staged every term and over 30 concerts every term. Its the same reason why more Olympic athletes came from the independent sector than the state sector opportunity. Most children in boarding schools are doing sport 4-5 times a week and many can carry on with their chosen sport often at weekends and evenings.
As a gold medal winning German Olympic dressage rider once said when an gushing fan commented on his "talent": "Its (it's sorry rabbit) funny the more i practice the more talented I become."

Yellowtip Tue 08-Jan-13 12:48:58

seeker the interview helpers are selected by their colleges and won't abandon a nervous interviewee in the face of a braying Buller-wannabe mob.

You do love caricature.

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 12:50:09

I thought all interview for medicine in the hope of ensuring good people skills. Maybe this explains a lot!

rabbitstew Tue 08-Jan-13 12:52:13

Regardless of any other objections, ds1 is not the type of child who would respond well to being sent to boarding school a long way from home, happygardening. That only suits a certain type of child. My dh was happy with such an arrangement, but he has a very different personality from my ds1. And ds2 is another kettle of fish altogether. I am glad to hear, for the benefit of other children, however, that bursaries to top private schools are not limited to children entirely free of learning disabilities.

grovel Tue 08-Jan-13 12:53:46

The only ways I can see to change the status quo involve unacceptable state interference in family life (if introduced by Labour) or patronising paternalism if introduced by the Conservatives.
We are hamstrung by political perceptions.

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 12:58:20

So grovel does this mean that you think we as a nation are stuck with the current system?

HelpOneAnother Tue 08-Jan-13 12:58:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 13:00:28

The worry is that if this government continues with its policies the losers wont just be those in poor areas it will be those in wealthy areas as well.

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 13:03:41

happy - that's what DH told me, i.e.: "Well, if you want to be like Chris Martin, it helps if you are good in music. If you want to be an actor, it helps, if you can act. The more you practice, the better you get." And then, someone else added that a lot of kids in the private sector do leave school with exactly that - a lot of extracurricular activities (big grounds for sports, afternoon music lessons and drama from early age, not to mention foreign languages much earlier on), and to a standard well above average. While when you send your kids to a state school, parents have to push a lot more for it (registering kids at drama school, driving them to music lessons and sports, etc. rather than all that happening in one place which would be a lot less stressful for both parents and kids.

Ridiculous - the difference between state and private sector. That's one of the reasons I would really push for independent schools with my kids (no need to convince DH about that - he feels stronger about it than I do, again probably because he's British, and he is more tuned in to the difference it can make to someone's life over here). So might be back here with suggestions for school in a few years time... unless we move out of the country.

peteneras Tue 08-Jan-13 13:06:19

You call that “peripheral”, Yellow? ‘Interview’ or ‘no interview’ can often mean the difference between the making or breaking of a (medical) career!

You seem to be very hot in giving correct information to MNers (when it suited you) but what you said categorically that all medical schools interview was clearly untrue. Nothing whatsoever to do with Durham here. You either know or don’t know your medical schools, that’s my point.

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 13:09:32

Tasmania, the better-off in the UK have adapted to the comprehensive system by either moving into the catchment area of the higher-achieving schools or going private. Most people with influence are happy enough with the status quo. (There are no mainstream political parties who would dream of proposing selective education along German lines.) The losers have been academic pupils in poor areas.. and maybe the country overall.

Pity - because the German system seems to work well. While primary and middle schools are limited to the catchment area in Germany, secondary schools in Germany are not. So someone from the "poorer" side of town is well in their rights to go to the one in the "posh" side of town. As long as you got the grammar school recommendation, it's first come, first served. Some schools will still be oversubscribed, but I don't think distance makes much of an impact. Someone in my year commuted 2 hours each way (!!!) to go to school because she lived in a tiny village, and she thought the grammar school there wasn't the most "worldly" one.

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 13:11:40

Tas Im (sorry I'm) rural I would have to drive my DS 30 miles one way three time a week for him to play his chosen sport at the level he's playing it at school. Even if I wasn't working to pay fees and therefore sitting around with nothing to do it would be considerable inconvenience especially as my other DS isn't interested. .

Bonsoir Tue 08-Jan-13 13:14:29

"Tasmania, the better-off in the UK have adapted to the comprehensive system by either moving into the catchment area of the higher-achieving schools or going private."

The issue of the better-off and/or savvier parents moving into the catchment of better schools, creating a virtuous circle for some and sink schools elsewhere is an inevitability of the comprehensive/catchment system. It has happened in France too - in fact, it happened a long time ago and more recently there has been huge flight to private schools.

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 13:19:08

As a gold medal winning German Olympic dressage rider once said when an gushing fan commented on his "talent": "Its (it's sorry rabbit) funny the more i practice the more talented I become.

Haha! Riding is one of those other things that gets classed as "posh" here. The best rider in my year at school in Germany was not actually posh - her dad was a tram conductor. It's just that riding is so much cheaper over there than here (at my old riding school, it is €14 per hour. Here, it's like £25 per hour - and that school isn't even that great, so you go for one that's more around £35+). DCs will go on riding holidays there - which will be cheaper than a child minder over here!

I think the UK is a very difficult place to actually live in!!!

Bonsoir Tue 08-Jan-13 13:20:29

seeker - do you know what the original Waterstone's strategy was? Can you describe its marketing concept?

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 13:22:51

Germany have for many years lead the world in the dressage arena and in show jumping and eventing as well. They have a fantastic mega organised breeding program and horses are rigourously tested we have learnt a lot from them hence our success in the dressage at the Olympics. I know little about German schools but perhaps we can learn from that as well?

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 13:26:16

holiday - Completely understandable. It's not so bad where we are, but you'd still have to drive around like a lunatic to get all that in. Plus, because they are not organised from one central place, things will inevitably clash at some point.

Bonsoir Tue 08-Jan-13 13:27:10

All the Germans I know are deeply anxious about their schools! I know plenty of Germans both in Germany and outside and they are never content. It's a very inegalitarian system - the correlation between academic success and a SAHM is one of the highest in the world.

rabbitstew Tue 08-Jan-13 13:28:20

Aren't a lot of Germans unhappy with their education system, though? Maybe it's the norm for European countries to be unhappy with their own education systems and looking to change them?...

I have to admit, my ds2 would be in 7th heaven to be surrounded by intelligent, like-minded individuals and to have lots going on of a high quality all the time.

Yellowtip Tue 08-Jan-13 13:32:35

peterenas the post concerned interviews at Durham and which subjects that university does or doesn't interview for these days. Durham does interview for Medicine and like happy I thought all medical schools did. Certainly all those that DS was interested in applying to did. I'm surprised there are any which don't but I'm interested too: which are they?

Bonsoir Tue 08-Jan-13 13:33:06

Free, mass delivery of education has been going on for an awfully long time in Europe and inevitably systems bear the burden of their heritage, for better and (often) for worse. It is frightening to see newer high-octane economies do better than European countries. The fear goads some countries into action more quickly than others.

Yellowtip Tue 08-Jan-13 13:35:47

If attending an interview would risk 'breaking' a medical career then surely that's an excellent reason to interview confused.

Bonsoir Tue 08-Jan-13 13:49:47

"I have to admit, my ds2 would be in 7th heaven to be surrounded by intelligent, like-minded individuals and to have lots going on of a high quality all the time."

Yes. Their children's happiness (and not just their own ambitions for their children and the perceived social status obtained from high-ranking education) is a strong driver many parents when seeking out selective education.

goinggetstough Tue 08-Jan-13 14:00:00

I believe Southampton doesn't interview or at least they didn't in 2010.

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 14:02:27

happy - The thing that simply has to change in the UK is the thought that "segregating kids" should not be thought of as "a bad thing". I never understood the abolition of grammar schools. Segregating children by ability is a LOT fairer than segregating them by their parents' financial status. And some sort of segregation has to take place simply because it's only in a utopian world where everyone is truly equal. And I'd rather have it decided by merit rather than money (though it seems that currently, if you want excellence in education for your kids, you may have to go with the latter in the UK). So kids get segregated after primary school (in my days, it was middle school, but they moved this further back now it seems), and based on pure ability and - more importantly - potential. Some kids got put through to grammar school with a C average, if teachers thought they were late developers/their German wasn't good and had potential.

However, that said, the article I quoted failed to mention that German companies are very different compared to their UK counterparts. They have proper apprenticeships in place for those who do not go to a grammar school. They are actually willing to train. There are 3 different types of schools - only one leads to university. The middle one makes a broad range of jobs available to you through apprenticeships, e.g. banking (you can make it as far as those who went to uni, if you're determined), the lower one opens up vocational jobs like hair dressing, etc. A friend of mine who moved from Germany to the UK in her 20s is now doing a job that requires a degree and so forth here. She has none of that - she was simply trained up by one of the banks in Germany before moving here!

So in Germany, there's no push towards going to university to the same extent as here in the UK, because there are other options if you do not have the equivalent A-levels. In fact, some of my classmates chose to do an apprenticeship instead - even after doing their A-levels, simply because at that time the economy was shaky (weirdly enough, doing better now!), and getting onto one of those schemes seemed wiser than going to university.

Here in the UK, on the other hand, I will see a job advert for a travel agency, where the requirement is for a "graduate". Ffs - why do you need a degree to work in a travel agency?!? Even A-levels?? In Germany, the equivalent of GCSEs alone would be enough. I'm guessing the company just doesn't want to train people up, and see uni as some sort of an assembly line producing potential employees. So yes, in the light of that... I can see why people find it difficult to come to terms with segregation... if that one thing can literally impact the rest of your life by ascribing to either the "Haves" or "Have-Nots". But if you actually had companies that are willing to put in effort in training those who didn't go to uni, that might not be the case.

Germany also has the big industrial companies like BMW, Mercedes, etc. - and in the past, the families who still are the majority shareholders used to have a "noblesse oblige" approach where they took good care of their employees (all the way down to the mechanics, etc.), and their employees thus often stayed with them out of loyalty. It would be stupid to train up a mechanic - only for him to move on somewhere else. Sadly, this may be changing now due to the global economic climate.

seeker Tue 08-Jan-13 14:12:35

"
"seeker - do you know what the original Waterstone's strategy was? Can you describe its marketing concept?"
Ok, I'll bite. Why?

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 14:15:47

Aren't a lot of Germans unhappy with their education system, though? Maybe it's the norm for European countries to be unhappy with their own education systems and looking to change them?...

Yes, particularly at universities where people often don't even find seats in lecture halls. And this has now moved on to schools, too. I put a lot of the blame on ever-increasing class sizes. Germany is also becoming increasingly multi-cultural (compared to when I was there), and obviously, you will have the problem with languages that you might not have had in the same extent before. Berlin is the one definite place in Germany where those who can afford it are likely to opt for private school despite the grammar school system.

HelpOneAnother Tue 08-Jan-13 14:16:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 14:18:52

^^ Universities have changed a lot though since I've left. So at least, they are doing something...

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 14:21:08

HelpOneAnother - I saw that on TV the other week... that large accounting firms were offering apprenticeships. Step in the right direction. I think things like that have to come from up above (i.e. companies > education > people).

Yellowtip Tue 08-Jan-13 14:21:30

Yes it looks as though Southampton doesn't interview as a matter of course. I think peterenas said her DS applied there, so I expect that's it. Very unusual though, I wonder why they've taken that line. A lot of interviews just seem to be to say hello though, so perhaps they reckon it's just a waste of their time.

Yellowtip Tue 08-Jan-13 14:27:49

Incidentally, I don't think not knowing every detail about every medical school in the UK is a hanging offence either peterenas. I know a bit about the ones DS applied to, anda little about others he was considering and nothing at all about the UKCAT, since he didn't take it. It was his application and it's his life. My knowledge is limited to that.

Elibean Tue 08-Jan-13 14:30:29

Tasmania, I do agree up to a point - but I've had this conversation with German parents at my dds' primary school, and they are not happy with a system that segregates on perceived ability at primary age. Not happy at all. They say that so many kids are judged unfairly, not just because they can be 'late developers' - but because of family circumstances (which can change), physical problems (that can change), etc etc.

I have no experience of this system, but based on it I would have been labelled a very high flyer in primary school - although I flunked most of my A levels because of family problems and rebellion. Whereas someone I know (whose mother was an alcoholic) did not read until he was 7, then within a year was reading Tolkein, and went on to medical school. Anecdotal, I know, but it worries me when I hear talk of early segregation....

Elibean Tue 08-Jan-13 14:31:45

Actually, I should rephrase that - sorry, rushing - they are not happy with the inflexibility of the system. 'Streaming' seems fine, as long as 'streams' are flexible and individuals can be moved back and forth between 'streams' as achievement/circumstances require?

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 14:40:48

Elibean - Not sure why they thought it was that rigid? Usually, if your kid improves over time, you can always ask for him/her to be moved across... and the good teachers - not everyone is, unfortunately - should suggest this.

If teachers at the primary school suggest the kid should go to the school just below the grammar school level, parents can appeal. The kid will probably have to sit a German & Maths test (in Bavaria, that is - each federal state has different rules), but if, as you said, the kid was suddenly much better, he/she should pass this. However, I can understand why a few German parents don't know this - a lot of people do not appeal. My dad did this with my brother who was a late developer, and who apparently is now in the top 2 percentile of the world in terms of IQ...

Definitely not rigid... in some federal states, it isn't even up to the grades where the kids should go, but up to the parents...

seeker Tue 08-Jan-13 14:40:53

If you do comparisons on LEAs in the UK where the schooling is segregated at 11, and LEAs where it isn't, there is no significant difference in the end of school outcomes.

Selection at 11 is not the answer, because in general, it's not the children who go to grammar school who need the extra input - they mostly come from supportive and aspirational homes. State selective education just adds another layer of advantage to the privileged and disadvantage to the non- privileged.

seeker Tue 08-Jan-13 14:41:50

"Elibean - Not sure why they thought it was that rigid? Usually, if your kid improves over time, you can always ask for him/her to be moved across... and the good teachers - not everyone is, unfortunately - should suggest this."

No you can't, Tasmania!

HelpOneAnother Tue 08-Jan-13 14:41:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HelpOneAnother Tue 08-Jan-13 14:44:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 14:44:40

seeker - what are you talking about? This was in response to Elibean and specifically about the German education system - which I happen to know a whole damn lot about.

seeker Tue 08-Jan-13 14:49:23

I'm sorry, Tasmania- I thought you were talking about the UK system.

Elibean Tue 08-Jan-13 14:54:21

I don't know why the parents I talked to thought that, Tasmania...probably as you suggest, they weren't aware of options. They have since left the school, so I can't ask, sadly!

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 14:59:20

Elibean - my guess is they don't know that things have changed. Fifty years ago, parents may have had no options, but for the past decade or so (at least), they do... it's just that some people don't quite know their rights (Google/internet should change that).

creamteas Tue 08-Jan-13 15:04:27

One of the main problems of segregating children in different schools rather than using setting within schools to group children of similar abilities together is that few children are equally good at everything.

I have two DC with ASD. They are both really good at maths and science but struggle with English because of issues around interpretation and imagination. At their comp, this is easy to deal with. In some subjects they are top set and in others they are close to the bottom not. This means they get the teaching they need in all subjects. If we lived in a grammar area (thankfully we do not), they would not be able to be supported in this way.

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 15:12:45

creamteas - fair point, that.

rabbitstew Tue 08-Jan-13 15:17:59

I have to say, I don't see much scope for swapping between schools if the schools in question are so different that they operate on a different curriculum from day 1 and if they don't, then why do they need to be separate? Surely you are quite quickly trapped in the system you have been allocated to?

rabbitstew Tue 08-Jan-13 15:20:18

It is, after all, also the argument used by parents who withdraw their children from the state sector before they've even reached 11-years old - that the private sector, particularly the selective private sector, has already accelerated off beyond the scope of state schools... personally, I don't think that is remotely true for truly bright kids, but it's the mythology that counts more than the reality, sometimes.

OhDearConfused Tue 08-Jan-13 16:00:57

And if - in the German system - it is up to the parents (or an incisive teacher) to ask for the mover for a "late developer", again won't the disadvantaged (in terms of lack of "supportive" parents without the knowledge/ambition/etc) not then be able to make use of the facility. It strikes me (and I do know some Germans in the system over there that its a facility that is very little made use of.

The system is very different - children can re-sit entire years for eg, as i understand it.

rabbitstew Tue 08-Jan-13 16:17:13

Of course, you can appeal an 11 plus failure in the UK, too, for all the good it usually does you! Then you get into the whole argument over whether it's fair to have a system so badly organised that it doesn't even offer as many places as it has exam passes (and doesn't even have enough primary school places to fit demand in many areas...).

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 16:54:48

And if - in the German system - it is up to the parents (or an incisive teacher) to ask for the mover for a "late developer", again won't the disadvantaged (in terms of lack of "supportive" parents without the knowledge/ambition/etc) not then be able to make use of the facility.

IMHO - a lot of German kids are more resourceful / a little bit more mature than here in the UK. They get brought up to be quite independent early on - which even DH (who is British) has a hard time comprehending. While it helps to have motivated parents - it's actually a lot of the kids who take matters into their own hands. Some people who "moved over" to my school finished the equivalent of GCSEs in their previous school, and just enquired themselves. If they had the right grades, it was fairly straightforward.

I mean - I told my DH that I applied to go to uni in the UK around the age of 17/18 prior to the internet becoming an everyday phenomenon. I went to the city library where they had brochures of unis abroad, wrote (snail mail) to the British Council, got books on how to fill in the UCAS form... all without my parents or teachers guiding me. They were absolutely clueless about it all. Still got offers from all the unis (all RG), and I ended up going to Durham. DH who was at school here in the UK had his teachers and his Oxbridge dad guiding him which made me hmm a bit. And I wasn't the only one...

Oh... the main difference between the German grammar school and the one below used to be languages (not sure how it is now... this is probably outdated!). The grammar school required you to study two foreign languages (on top of German) up to GCSEs. If you go to the one below, you had the option to study another language besides English (usually). Most of those who "jumped across" did do that, but didn't have to as a lot of grammar school students would drop a language after GCSEs. What may happen though is that someone who did this could have been the best in his/her school previously, but find themselves more in the middle at the grammar school. However, getting straight As in Germany is so inherently hard that often, if you do, you'd be in the newspaper. So having a B average isn't seen as bad (still good, actually). Even a C average is seen as "OK". And university is sort of open to anyone regardless of grades, as the system works differently again.

When it comes to the "lowest" school though - that's different. Almost impossible to get to the grammar school, although there are calls for the two lower schools to be combined now, so that there will be an option to do so in the future.

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 16:58:37

^^ The elder sister of a friend of mine even applied to Cambridge and got through to interviews without help of parents / teachers. So there must be some sort of cultural difference going on here. She didn't get a place, but studied in Switzerland and Canada instead - again, applied all on her own.

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 17:08:24

Just out of fun... this is a catholic school in Austria that charges €88 a month in tuition fee (paid 10x a year). Quite affordable, because it is regarded as a "state school".

Don't think you'd feel out of place at Oxford after studying in this building! Just watch the video a little...

www.stiftsgymnasium-melk.org/Schule/#prettyPhoto/0/

seeker Tue 08-Jan-13 17:23:25

Of course there are always incredibly motivated self starters who don't let anything stand in their way. There always have been.The issue is that if you are one of the privileged you don't have to be an incredibly motivated self starter. And there isn't much standing in your way.

If you are poor/ from a disadvantaged background you have to be an order of magnitude better than if you're not.

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 17:24:09

"It is, after all, also the argument used by parents who withdraw their children from the state sector before they've even reached 11-years old - that the private sector, particularly the selective private sector, has already accelerated off beyond the scope of state schools... personally, I don't think that is remotely true for truly bright kids,"
rabbit I guess I'm being a bit thick I've read the above three times are you saying that children in prep schools especially selective ones are not ahead of their state counterparts?

rabbitstew Tue 08-Jan-13 17:28:56

No, I'm saying that they are not so far ahead that a bright child can't catch up fairly easily on joining them at age 11... I think they'd have to be super bright to catch up without an awful lot of assistance at age 14 though, tbh, particularly if they are required to do Latin for any entrance exam!!!!!

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 17:32:35

Of course there are always incredibly motivated self starters who don't let anything stand in their way.

Thing is - I find a lot more people who fit the above description over there than here! And yes, especially from poorer backgrounds...

It MUST be cultural... can't find any other reason otherwise.

Bonsoir Tue 08-Jan-13 17:33:11

The higher you go up the system, the greater the disparity between excellent and poor standards of education and the more work any child is going to do to "catch up". That's kind of inevitable. Quite a few children who move from state primaries to preps will be in very supportive homes anyway, probably doing all sorts of activities that enrich their experience of life, so their own catching up won't necessarily be an accurate measure of the difference between the schools.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Tue 08-Jan-13 17:35:17

Have not read the whole thread, but very interested in the contributors re education in other countries. I have dc who have been in both state and indie in the uk, and am familiar with the French, Italian and Japanese systems having taught in those countries, and would love to know more about others (maybe will start a thread grin

rabbitstew Tue 08-Jan-13 17:36:43

Yes, Tasmania - haven't you ever seen the sketch (was it The Two Ronnies???) where the working class man says "I know my place"???? I don't think you'd ever find a German saying that, would you? grin

OhDearConfused Tue 08-Jan-13 17:41:29

Tasmania Schloss Salem alumni would not be intimidated by Oxbridge either. Perhaps for my DS. At 33,000 euros a year cheaper than Eton (at current forex) ....

happygardening Tue 08-Jan-13 17:50:11

I'm blush to say that I know quite a lot about Steiner. Those who follow it through will start formal education later but it is generally accepted that by 13 will have caught up with their contemporaries in state ed in fact some will have passed them. My DS1 didn't learn to read till yr 2 by then end of the year he was a better reader than most in is horrible little "crammer for the grammar" pushy prep.

creamteas Tue 08-Jan-13 17:51:05

Rabbit that is one of my favorites. It is from the Frost Report (I use it in teaching)

Tasmania Tue 08-Jan-13 17:51:19

rabbit - nah... Germans are too confident to say things like that to be honest. That confidence is easily seen at a shoot-out in international football matches (when compared to the UK). When they do lose, it looks like they didn't even contemplate losing! Also, too serious... until all of a sudden you see the most serious guy you've ever come across standing in Lederhosen in front of you and his wife in one of those cleavage-revealing Dirndls (happened in my professional life). Couldn't keep a straight face. grin

rabbitstew Tue 08-Jan-13 17:58:36

Bonsoir - that is true. I think there is a massive difference between someone working at a level 4 in their SATs and what a private selective school would be expecting and that, whilst my children are very bright, they do also have the undeniable advantage of having parents who just enjoy the sort of activities and skills that have great currency in schools, so who have encouraged them in pretty much everything we do with them. They do work at well above the level of the other children in their classes at a very mixed ability primary school.

rabbitstew Tue 08-Jan-13 18:01:47

But it is also very noticeable that the children with the smaller vocabularies find it harder to demonstrate their intelligence at school and the size of ones vocabulary at a young age is directly linked to ones parents.