Access to private schools/Can you buy a place?

(67 Posts)
pithy Sat 19-Jan-13 18:35:11

You will pay fees, if not on a bursary. However, it is often suspected that the most academic schools will discretely ignore mediocre entry test scores for those whose parents' face fits in terms of wealth/contacts/influence. Any teachers willing to spill the beans?

eminemmerdale Mon 21-Jan-13 15:49:41

Did anyone anaswer my question? Did the princes take the Eton entrance test do we expect?

Copthallresident Mon 21-Jan-13 16:07:43

I would add by way of another anecdote that DD now attends an elite uni, one that was actually established at the start of the 19th century to be inclusive. She loves that it is so mixed, and shares a flat with a complete social mix, there is a very posh one, two from northern comprehensives, one with a single parent, one mixed race, two on bursaries and scholarships and they are sharing for their third year and having a great time growing up together. It came as a shock to find so many clever hardworking and equally geeky Scientists on her course, and that includes those from overseas as well as state schools, it is relentless keeping up. If you were to say was it a true meritocracy she would laugh, you wouldn't survive very long if you weren't clever enough.

Copthallresident Mon 21-Jan-13 16:11:38

eminemmerdale Didn't Prince Harry come in for some flack in the Press for getting help with Art A level? / Gcse? I obviously thought, there you go, privilege, until mine got to sitting coursework and I spoke to some art teachers and discovered it wasn't unusual, or even bending the rules.... As I say acres of newsprint pandering to prejudice.

eminemmerdale Mon 21-Jan-13 16:17:57

I thought of this as happygardening mentioned 'minor royalty' and connected families not getting a place despite their wealth and connections.

IndridCold Mon 21-Jan-13 17:12:39

Who knows if the princes had to sit the entrance test - I would imagine not. However, the more I learn about Eton the more I think that it was probably the right place to send them.

In spite of the many prejudices people have about the place, it does try and instil in the boys a great sense of duty to pay back in kind the priviliged education they get there, by going out and doing something positive and useful in the world. As one former headmaster put it 'To whom much is given, much is expected'.

Possibly the school took the view that these boys are going to be important, whether they deserve it or not, and we might as well train them up as best we can. And while they are not perfect, I think that these two do a rather better job at giving back than some other princes I could mention!

TalkinPeace2 Mon 21-Jan-13 17:16:44

What about the children of top Chinese Communist Party officials (who seem to live under assumed name sin the west) - is it OK for the rules to be bent for them?

happygardening Mon 21-Jan-13 17:18:05

Eton has not always been as selective at it is now Im not sure when it changed but I suspect it was about 2000 would that have been after Prince William and Harry applied? Dont really follow them so have not got much idea how old they are.

happygardening Mon 21-Jan-13 17:20:06

Talkin are you assuming that "the children of top Chinese Communist Party officials" are not very bright but being accepted at Westminster and others?

TalkinPeace2 Mon 21-Jan-13 17:27:39

well its funny that ALL of them get into the schools of their choice ....
the lad at Harrow and Oxford (dad now disgraced) did not seem the brightest cookie.
(and the top dog's daughter at Harvard is under an assumed name)
Great for the UK's balance of trade though!

IndridCold Mon 21-Jan-13 17:35:15

happygardening no, I don't know either. I think they must have gone in the early 90s as William is about 30 now I think.

Bo Xilai's son went to Harrow, but that was a few years ago now, and his parents did end up in a fair old pile of trouble. I wouldn't imagine that many schools would bend their admission criteria for top Chinese communists though. There seem to be quite a few hugely wealthy Chinese wanting to send their children here, why not take the cleverest ones!

maisiejoe123 Mon 21-Jan-13 17:54:47

What a strange world we live in. The Chinese Communist Party sending their children to some of the most elitist schools in the world! Even in this country we have half the Labour gov sending or having attended grammar or private schools and then trying to ruining it for the rest of us..

Copthallresident Mon 21-Jan-13 17:57:58

*TalkinPeace" Are you particularly referring to the son of Bo Xilai, deposed leader in Chongqing, who has had the Daily Mail treatment, which alleged he got into Harrow and Oxford as a result of Neil Hayward, the "fixer" who his mother was subsequently convicted of poisoning, and from them on lived a "playboy" lifestyle? The Daily Mail version doesn't really stack up given that Neil Hayward scarcely seemed to live, or die an influential man and the son won a scholarship at Harrow and Oxford, which is hardly a sign that it was money that got him in. Nor have any corruption charges been proved against Bo Xilai, whether or not he was corrupt, it was his ambition and attempts to capitalise on a return to "redness" that led to his demise. It's a murky story and chinese justice being what it is we will probably never know the truth, but you can be absolutely sure the Daily Mail hasn't the slightest clue beyond picking up on the most scandalous of the gossip. There is certainly no proof that the son wasn't clever, his father, mother (a lawyer) and older brother undoubtedly were.

Entry to UK Boarding Schools from Hong Kong and China is highly competitive, the political Princelings have to compete with the economic ones . I do know some schools, Wycombe Abbey for one, value the connections they have with certain hot house schools favoured by the very wealthy. I suspect the top schools could actually fill themselves several times over with the children of wealthy chinese families, who are as clever if not more clever than their UK peers . Indeed non verbal reasoning test scores for Asians are on average statistically much higher than Europeans, that Asian pupils are good at Maths isn't actually a stereotype. The bar is probably higher rather than lower. Anecdote again but DDs very clever HK Chinese friend did not get into Wycombe but scored stratospherically in IB and is now at Warwick.

Or do you think we should be discriminating against the sons because of the sins of the fathers?

happygardening Mon 21-Jan-13 18:00:42

"and the top dog's daughter at Harvard is under an assumed name"
I'm not convinced that going under an assumed name is a sign of average/low intelligence. Neither is having a disgraced father and Harrow has never been obsessively selective. How do you know how bright this boy was for that matter how do we now how bright any one like him is? Just because you don't like what they stand for doesn't mean they're thick. I personally don't like Boris and his policies but I know he's not thick.

Copthallresident Mon 21-Jan-13 18:04:26

*maisiejoe123" Don't confuse the current dynasty of traditional rulers for Communists!! It is all about status and connections, that is how they got where they are and they do everything they need to get the same status for their families. It's called "Guanxi" www.businessweek.com/stories/2007-11-18/you-say-guanxi-i-say-schmoozing

pithy Tue 22-Jan-13 12:11:50

Copthallresident Yes, it is true that the Ivies differ from UK, unis in that they are independent, relying on huge endowments- in Harvard's case around £19 billion. However, they do have access to government research funding, and are only what they are because there's a federal government, state sponsored system, that educates the vast majority.
Whilst slightly off-piste,blush I agree, I believe a reasonable sequitur from that discussion, is to consider the direction in which we may be heading in this country. And there are very vocal calls for us to follow the US model. Tuition fees are capped here - but for how long? And, Ivy style institutions, like the University of Buckingham, may initially look attractive to those bent on autonomy at any cost, but may exist to the detriment of fair access.
You asked how the Cambridge admissions' system might be improved? Well, I would suggest that we remove the ludicrous system of submitting predicted grades. Allow applicants to apply with their actual grades. I have it on good authority that a meeting of leading unis had agreed to this last year, only to be stymied by one leading institution which refused to sign-up.

Copthallresident Tue 22-Jan-13 14:35:10

The University of Buckingham has never acquired the kudos of Oxbridge, Russell and 1994 unis, and AC Graylings new private university is seen as an embarrassment by some of the big names who signed up when only 60 of the 180 places were taken up. Perhaps it will evolve into a niche that provides what some people want like Buckingham but they can't compete with universities with a more established reputation worldwide.

It is very hard to see what the future holds for the rest of our universities. Some parts of the Conservative Party may want a free market but they did not think through the consequences of the limited steps they took in that direction, increased fees and allowing unis to exceed their quotas to recruit those with AAB, as well as Gove throwing in a curved ball of grade deflation. The result was that some respected instititions took the biggest hit. Southampton and SOAS admitted to not being able to fill places but you can be sure that lots of the universities just underneath the very top rank also suffered and if it happens again this year there will be redundancies. It is rather typical of this government to put on a show of effecting change to try and placate the right wing without pushing it too far, (and appointing an admissions Tsar to placate the other wing, and as a result acting without having a long term vision and strategy, and having thought through the consequences. It would probably take a right wing government with a big majority to take us down the Ivy League route, and in this country we have a much stronger constituency that will want to see access continue to be widened, as well as it being fundamental to the ethos of many of our unis .

Of course our universities do compete in a free market, for overseas students, and they punch above their weight in terms of funding, up there and sometimes outgunning Ivy League unis.

I don't disagree with you on actual versus predicted grades but it is UCAS mainly who are querying the logistics. I am not sure it would widen access, it is often the schools who provide least support for the UCAS process that over predict, and the unis know who they are, some school references say more in the way they are written than they do in what they actually write!

IndridCold Tue 22-Jan-13 16:31:05

It does seem a complete mess brought about by the the political desire to get results quickly, rather than bring about a genuine improvement which takes too long (ie won't be available by the next election).

I'm not directly involved in teaching or university admissions, other than being good friends with someone who, until very recently, was head of department at a Russell Group university. His account of the near impossibility of selecting first year undergraduates are truly mind-boggling. He no longer has any faith in the UK state education system and resents having to put on classes to teach stuff that should have been covered at A-level. The upshot of all this is that last year over 40% of their first year intake were Chinese, because they pay and are a known quantity academically speaking.

I agree with Copthallresident that it's difficult to see where we are going to end up if things continue the way they are going.

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