Fed up with the education divide ?

(509 Posts)
johnbunyan Wed 12-Feb-14 16:13:57

As a former Head of an independent school, I am fed up with the ideological divide in education, and want to start a national discussion on constructive ways to help the state and independent systems grow naturally together. I am secretary of a national group of independent day schools ( mostly the old direct grant schools ) and we look back to a time when there was much greater co-operation and a real sense of social mobility. Can we return to such a consensus ? I would love to hear ideas and start building towards such a consensus, since, as we approach the 2015 General Election, it will seem a long way away! I sense that many parents would like government and schools to work something out -and quickly -since the educational divide is simply not helpful to anybody - least of all the present generation. How many out there agree?

Martorana Wed 12-Feb-14 16:15:10

"and we look back to a time when there was much greater co-operation and a real sense of social mobility."

When was that?

johnbunyan Wed 12-Feb-14 16:52:50

1950s and 1960s

creamteas Wed 12-Feb-14 17:45:17

a real sense of social mobility

Except a sense of social mobility is not the same as actual social mobility. Once you take away the impact of broader social changes (trends in standards of living, changes in occupation etc) there is little evidence that the 1950s and 1960s were any better than now.

If you really want to end the educational divide, then clearly you need to abolish the ability of some people to buy a better education than others both in terms of private places and preferential access to state schools.

Martorana Wed 12-Feb-14 17:53:50

Tell me more about this social mobility......

Martorana Wed 12-Feb-14 17:55:03

Oops, sorry, creamteas- I didn't notice your post.

MerlinFromCamelot Wed 12-Feb-14 17:56:41

I would suggest to abolish private schools all together. I have no problem with selection based on ability etc but I think selection on ability to pay is not right. Having said that I do not believe that private schools are always better.

Gunznroses Wed 12-Feb-14 18:23:27

Yes, abolishing private schools is the answer to raising the quality of education absolutely hmm

Honeysweet Wed 12-Feb-14 18:30:13

Where do academies fit into the current education system?

Honeysweet Wed 12-Feb-14 18:34:30

I dont know much about it all nowadays. But I am , perhaps wrongly, slightly uncomfortable with you starting a campaign on mumsnet. I think that it is fair to say that the demographic of mumsnet is such that it is quite skewed towards women obviously, and women who are educated and have money.
A lot of them may well be more than happy with the education divide. <ducks>

AfricanExport Wed 12-Feb-14 18:35:49

I never get why people think abolishing private education will lessen the divide. I'd wager money on it that it will only make it even worse. There will always be those that educate privately and they will continue to do so regardless, even is it meant sending their kids abroad. So all doing away with private education would achieve would be to remove the middle tier.. thereby impacting the middle classes who are desperately trying to do the right thing for their children and making huge sacrifices to do so. It will have zero impact on the top. We would be widening the divide, there would be no 'bridge' and that would be that.

I cannot see how anyone thinks that would be good. ..

lljkk Wed 12-Feb-14 18:55:09

There used to be a lot of MNers who strongly endorsed grammar school system for social mobility. I didn't get the nostalgia at all, since the whole idea always horrified me (I am foreign, and from a family of late bloomers).

Now we read lots of horror stories on MN about the modern grammar school system; and even some actual research to show that in its heyday that it heavily catered to the Middle classes.

Maybe 6 yrs ago the conservatives proposed a lottery for school places; so then we'd have massively more school run traffic and a stampede to the private sector. Nobody really liked the idea. I don't think you can turn back the clock.

It seems to me like schools are one of the least useful places to close social divides; schools already being asked to do too much.

johnbunyan Wed 12-Feb-14 19:54:00

This isn't really a campaign - its just to get discussion going without political ideology getting in the way. 'Abolishing private schools' is ideological and just too simple - people with money will always find a way to buy into the good schools, wherever they. With the Assisted Places scheme, I saw middle class parents turning up in very expensive cars and gaining free places ( from the Government) through proving insufficient income. So money will always out somewhere along the line. Allowing free choice in going for school paces creates even more havoc and worry - just look at the debates on MN- as well as adding fantastic amounts to house prices. So we really do need to look for better ways rather than going for simple solutions.

wordfactory Wed 12-Feb-14 19:57:17

TBH, I think private schools are a small redish herring when it comes to educational divide in the UK. Not enough pupils to make a difference.

The real divide is between those with access to good state schools and those without.

Honeysweet Wed 12-Feb-14 20:01:11

Agree with African. I think that there is currently some sort of bridge.

Do you not think that there is social mobility? I think that the 50% going to uni has at least done quite a lot about that.

preswim Wed 12-Feb-14 20:28:43

"1950s and 1960s"

Back then it was acceptable to select a few bright kids from the "working classes" and give them a superior education, because there were plenty of labouring jobs for the majority left behind. It's a different world now. These days we all need to be educated, because we're competing with cheap labour from abroad. All schools need to be improved, and resources need to be concentrated on the ones that need most help to do that. Any kind of selection, whether by bursary scheme, exam or whatever is just froth. Every child deserves an outstanding education (outstanding in the Ofsted sense, rather than in the literal sense, before anyone points out the obvious misnomer).

preswim Wed 12-Feb-14 20:37:54

Oh, and I don't think the divide is particularly wide. The top performing state schools get better results than many private schools.

We just need more good school Heads and teachers to spread good practice from the high performing schools to the low performing schools. The London/City Challenge showed what can be done with the right resources.

Martorana Wed 12-Feb-14 20:42:13

The real divide, as ever, is between rich and poor. Rich people can always get a good education, whether it's private, moving to the catchment of a good state school or staying where you are and filling in any gaps. Rich people- or even moderately well off people are fine. It's the education available to the poor that needs looking at, if anything does.

Blu Wed 12-Feb-14 20:51:57

I don't really care about any perceived divide between independent and state education, I just care about my child getting a good education in a state school. Whether other people choose / can afford to pay for alternative education ranging from cult-like woo to military style boarding has no bearing on my need for a good state education for my child.

I don't want to have to have them transported across sectors on some travelator of glory to a private school that will be assumed to have a better offer to support bright kids. I don't want them to be segregated at 11 according to an hour long test in a grammar system. I want good teaching in a proper comp led by people who believe that children should be facilitated to find learning fun and trying hard worthwhile.

It is possible. DS is in a thoroughly inclusive proper comp with a representative mix of rich and poor. It gets excellent results - much better than many private schools. So what divide?

Roisin Wed 12-Feb-14 20:52:24

I think the educational divide is exaggerated in many cases. Yes, if you're talking about highly-selective HMC schools, they get better results, higher RG and Oxbridge entries, etc - for a variety of reasons. But so they should. Many of the top selective grammars get similarly excellent results.

But your bog standard, small independent school doesn't hold all the cards and doesn't necessarily convey great advantages. There are far more important factors at play, and all the research says this time and again. (eg parental education level and parental engagement.)

I've heard staff from inde schools waxing lyrical about all that they do for their pupils, "that they don't get in the state schools" and it's complete bollocks.

My son got exceptionally good GCSE results at his state school; and his school now (yr12) are providing excellent careers support for students and HE support and advice, practice interviews, etc etc.

Roisin Wed 12-Feb-14 20:53:34

What "national group of independent day schools" by the way? (PM me if you want).

Martorana Wed 12-Feb-14 20:55:09

Blu- I suspect that there are more like you than the papers or mumset would have us believe. Lots of children getting good educations in state schools all over the country. There are horror stories- but they get far more publicity than the far more common happy endings.

preswim Wed 12-Feb-14 21:08:21

Nice one Blu.

I was educated at a comprehensive in the 80s, got good exam results, degree, post-grad degree, good job etc etc. Many of my current colleagues in similar roles went to private schools. It didn't give them any advantage in the long run.

I know many educated parents in a similar position - we're not scared of comprehensives, unlike many parents from a grammar/private school background. We know our kids will work hard and shine.

TalkinPeace Wed 12-Feb-14 21:24:41

during the 1950's and 1960's the world was in an incredible flux due to two generations of men being decimated in World Wars,
unequalled levels of change in women's rights,
technological change
and optimism

those decades were the freak
please do not hark back to them without comparatives from elsewhere in history
as they were not, and never should be regarded as representative

if nothing else, the "grammar school" generation did a bloody good job of pulling up the drawbridge behind themselves in the 1970's

motherinferior Wed 12-Feb-14 21:32:37

Yep, wot Blu said.

I actually asked my lovely 13 year old a couple of days ago if she and more particularly some of her high-flying friends, who include some distinctly geeky girls, were bullied and picked on and left to weep unseen for their love of literacy in their large SarfLunnon comp. Er no, she said. That would be a no. And then she did her Latin homework grin

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