Decadence in London fee paying secondary schools

(57 Posts)

Is there a culture of decadence across the independent sector secondaries?

Brycie Tue 16-Oct-12 11:18:04

I didn't know that about preps. Is there something about secondaries having to give a certain number of bursaries to keep charity status? Ignorant on that.

EdithWeston Tue 16-Oct-12 11:20:50

Not all private schools are charities. And the latest tribunal rulings on charitable status mean there is no absolute requirement on those that are to provide any particular level of bursary.

suburbandream Tue 16-Oct-12 11:24:04

My DCs go to an independent in S London/Kent borders which sounds similar to Brycie's. There are incredibly well off families, a few minor/ex-celebrities and a lot of "normal" people who work really hard to send their kids there, drive normal cars or even god forbid get the bus to school. The school works hard to keep the children grounded.

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Tue 16-Oct-12 11:26:56

I went to a London private school ... ooh, 25 years ago and there was a fair amount of decadence in the sixth form at least - drinking, drugs, sex etc.

But my friends who went to comps in the middle of nowhere seem to have had not dissimilar experiences.

I think a lot depends on the child's personality, I was (and am) rebellious by nature and was drawn to "wilder" activities. However, the wilder bunch were a smallish crowd and many of my peers were eminently sensible in comparison.

all survived and done well and turned into boring grounded adults. DD1 is at a private prep school and I think so long as I hammer messages home about drugs/drink etc, I think she will be fine.

I am more concerned about the "bling side of things, that my dd (who was previously at a state primary) is now seeing everyone's parents driving 4x4s and holidaying in the Maldives. But a lot of other parents share those concerns too, so you have to hope the message that our children are extremely privileged will prevail. There were plenty of rich kids at my old school but they weren't necessarily the "cool" ones, other qualities were valued much more. I suspect it's the same today.

Brycie Tue 16-Oct-12 11:27:14

Yes ours are on the bus because it's free. Edith, the key then must be to choose your school. Any decent private secondary will take children who are bright but can't afford the fees, to keep the results up.

Although, I did read about more and more schools lowering their requirements just to keep the fees rolling in so things might be changing.

EdithWeston Tue 16-Oct-12 11:33:50

I doubt that applies in London, brycie!

Brycie Tue 16-Oct-12 11:35:10

Gawd I don't know. I only know about our school grin

Abra1d Tue 16-Oct-12 11:38:39

My experience has tended to be that like attracts like.

Most children seem to be most comfortable with children from similar sized houses, etc. Our two certainly seem to mix with people who don't always drive new cars, have expensive holidays, etc.

MrsWobble Tue 16-Oct-12 11:49:04

I have direct experience (as a parent) of two fee paying schools - one of which is very much more expensive than the other. As you would expect the family income/circumstances appear to be significantly wealthier in the more expensive school. However, the range of behaviours is pretty similar - and the most common factor in my experience is the degree of parental involvement - those children with interested, involved, concerned parents all seem to turn out pretty well rounded whereas those with a degree of dysfunctionality are more likely to experience problems. And wealth is no guarantee of good or involved parenting.

So I think you should think about choosing a school that you as parents feel comfortable with, where you think that there will be a consistent set of values between your family and the school. There is no right and wrong here - it's what feels right to you. And then you should relax and know you've done the best for your son and rely on his intelligence and common sense to steer the right general path through life, providing an interested oversight as and when required.

Bonsoir Tue 16-Oct-12 12:02:16

"I am more concerned about the "bling side of things, that my dd (who was previously at a state primary) is now seeing everyone's parents driving 4x4s and holidaying in the Maldives."

Isn't "bling" just another manifestation of decadence (drugs, parties etc)?

There are celebrity parents at DD's school. They are not necessarily the ones who promote the culture of decadence.

airedailleurs Tue 16-Oct-12 12:23:41

Not at ours, there's a culture of crappy old cars, crappy holidays in wet French caravan parks, dreams of conservatories and basically sacrifice for the children's future.

Love this post Brycie! And yes to dreaming of a decent haircut!

Brycie Tue 16-Oct-12 13:01:21

grin I suppose most couples have a "lottery conversation" every now and then. We have a "what if we weren't paying school fees" conversation!

wordfactory Tue 16-Oct-12 14:04:31

IMVHO if the school is highly selective then although there is decadence (these things being subjective), there is also a culture of academic rigour. The former is not allowed to outweigh the later.

So friends of ours have just spent 40k shock on their son's BM, but because of the school he goes to he will still be excpected to work extrmemely hard and obtain excellent results.

BusyDad66 Tue 16-Oct-12 14:19:15

wordffactory...what do you mean by BM?

SkoolsIn Tue 16-Oct-12 14:20:18

BMW?

wordfactory Tue 16-Oct-12 14:20:39

Bar Mitzvah.

Bonsoir Tue 16-Oct-12 14:21:58

Bar Mitzvahs are the same budget as weddings but it doesn't mean the family is decadent. It's just a Jewish thing.

wordfactory Tue 16-Oct-12 14:28:19

Well the BMs I've been to have mosr definitely been decadent wink.

And in the Jewish community year 8 becomes a veritable arms race of outdoing the last party.

The last one I attended was compared by the guy who does the voice over for The X Factor!

Bonsoir Tue 16-Oct-12 14:33:12

You are looking at it from the prism of an English goy: we have no tradition of a big religious ritual and huge party at 12 or 13, so it seems like a huge unnecessary expense. But compare it to the average English wedding (cost adjusted for socio-economic norms) and it really isn't a big deal.

Believe me, I didn't feel especially happy about the EUR 100,000 that two Bar Mitzvahs in two years cost our family. But it just is. There is nothing unusual about it. I have been to some shockers, just as I have been to some shockingly extravagant weddings (four days in Greece, three days in NY etc). But most of them are just a party on one night and maybe a lunch the next day.

wordfactory Tue 16-Oct-12 14:44:00

You're probably right grin.

To be fair, I'd be the last person to lecture anyone on extravagence/decadence, but it struck me that the type of things that money was being spent on were hugely frivolous...

It may be that BMs are slightly more tasteful in Paris wink.

DH just thanks his stars that we are not Jewish. I just don't think I could reign myself in !

horsemadmom Tue 16-Oct-12 14:45:21

We pay 3 sets of school fees so our bat/bar mitzvahs were very low key. Gotta say, not much 'decadence' amongst my childrens' friends. Probably because we taught them values. They steer well clear of the handfull of brats. It does help that they go to very selective schools.

wordfactory Tue 16-Oct-12 14:47:14

Well the ones we've been to have all got kids at Habs and NLC...so pretty selective.

Year 8 in North London, gotta love it grin.

Bonsoir Tue 16-Oct-12 14:47:22

I know they look frivolous and expensive (and hence decadent) because that was my initial reaction. But they really are not any kind of sign of intrinsic familial decadence - on the contrary, most Jewish families I know are Ashkenazy and very worthy and dull serious-minded and attach incredible, overriding importance to academic achievement and professional success. Albeit with large discos on boats etc for 13 year olds!

Copthallresident Tue 16-Oct-12 15:13:44

Quint I think it is more important to understand that you get these pupils who for whatever reason are intent on setting themselves up as an attention seeking "alpha" group by establishing exclusive norms of behaviour, decadent, risk taking, pushing the boundaries, call it what you will at every school. The cool kids network across school and private / state boundaries and go to the same parties, binge drink in the same parks, experiment with drugs, wind up in the same clinics for rehab, eating disorders etc.and broadcast it all on Facebook. Snobbery is an element, some may differentiate themselves as "sloaney"or "chelsea set" but the basic behaviour and values are the same. They are in every state school, including Catholic Schools (where the nature of the boundaries may make them even more attractive to kick against, and parents may have sent pupils whose behaviour or susceptibility to influence was already a worry) and every private school.

Just as importantly they do not represent the majority. So unless your son is an attention seeking risk taker or will do anything to be cool he isn't going to want to get involved and there will be plenty of other friendship groups with values he is more comfortable with to be part of. If he is, then unlike some of the parents of these cool kids, you need to put in place some very firm boundaries. In fact as parents we all need to take responsibility, be aware of what goes on, talk to our children about it and put in place firm boundaries because otherwise we leave our children open to real risks.They are still learning but one small mistake now will be broadcast across London and possibly remain on the internet for the rest of their lives. When gossiping about one incident involving a 13 year old with my daughters recently my older daughter pointed out that with friends now emerging into the job market she is now hearing of employers routinely checking the internet and finding this sort of thing.

All these fee paying schools will support you in this. They have firm boundaries and an ethos of making sure their pupils appreciate their priviledge, and the responsibilities that go with it, of community involvement, bursaries (28 full bursaries and 128 being given financial help at LEH, ScaredySquirrel) and will lay on talks etc to make sure that parents understand the demands of modern parenting in a decadent part of London too. Secretly I know many teachers, state and private, dispair of the naivity / unwillingness or inability of some parents to set boundaries and the risks they expose their children too.

QuintessentialShadow Tue 16-Oct-12 16:40:05

I think you are right. As with any school, how you and your children deal with this is all down to parenting, and hopefully we have laid the groundwork for him to tackle things sensibly.

I think there is a lot of "secondary school angst" at play here, with all the choices and all the decisions.

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