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Private schools - want to shout IT'S NOT FAIR!

(1000 Posts)
Yermina Mon 04-Feb-13 10:59:22

Went to PIL last night and heard all about sil's children's school. One of her boys is already attending a fantastic private school. Just found out his two brothers have also got places at very good private schools.

In the mean time my dc's are in classes of 31 at the local state school. My youngest needs additional support (sn) but isn't statemented (diagnosed but no statement) so doesn't get it. SIL's middle child has got into a mainstream private school that has outstanding support for children with dyslexia, which he's been diagnosed with. And will be in classes of 18.

Our middle ds is musically talented but there is really poor provision for music teaching at his state school and very few children there are learning an instrument. We struggle to pay for music lessons for him outside school.

Is it wrong of me to feel eaten up with jealousy and anger at the unfairness of a school system which privileges the children of well-off people so openly and seemingly without anyone else seeing it as something that's wrong or deeply, deeply unfair?

How would you explain to a group of children: you lot over here will have XXXX spent on your education, and lots of opportunity to develop your talents, and you lot over there will have about half as much spent on you, and will have much less attention from the teacher because there'll be twice as many of you in the class. Oh, and you kids with sn or specific gifts - unless your parents have money, you probably won't get the help you need to thrive educationally.

I know it's the way the world is but at the moment I feel bitter about it. Really really bitter. And jealous

Every time I go to my PIL's and have to hear about all the amazing thing SIL's dcs are doing at their school, their academic achievements, I want to go home and hide under the duvet and cry.

We'll never, ever be able to afford private education. We'll never be able to afford to move to an area with really good state schools. We'll never be able to get our children into church schools as we're not church goers, and our local grammar schools (2) are bursting at the seams with children from the local private prep schools, who bus their students in to take the 11+ en mass.

It's just so fucking unfair. It really is. I just want to get that off my chest.

That is all.

Yermina Mon 04-Feb-13 11:25:25

"Is it unfair that some people have bigger houses than others or go on better holidays? Do you want to live in a society where no matter how hard you or your children work you or they can never have anything more than anyone else? I don't."

But this isn't about adults.

This is about children.

The children haven't earned their privileged education. They've been given it.

Is that the lesson to be taught to children: you don't get what you deserve based on your own efforts and ability. You get better or worse depending on your parents' faith, or them having rich grandparents, or your parents being born into the right social class.

Imagine having to explain to two children why it was fair that one child was going to have much better experience of education and probably better life chances, dependent on whether their parents were rich or not.

Seriously - imagine trying to justify it to a child. You would find yourself saying 'I know it's not fair'. And it isn't.

"And I always a think a child from state school getting top grades has done better than a child from private school because they have done that without the privileges"

Yes - this is true. And I'm glad universities are staring to acknowledge this in their admissions procedures.

"How about investigating scholarships for a music school for your middle child"

Unfortunately we have the sort of household budget means we couldn't get a meaningful bursary, but we really don't have enough to be shelling out 10K a year on private school fees. Most music scholarships still require middle earners to pay a massive chunk of school fees. And it's so stupidly competitive. DS is talented, but he's not a prodigy. I looked at a couple of local private schools music bursaries and basically the standard they're looking for is about grade 5 in one instrument, and at least grade 3 in a second. DS will be grade 4 (at a push) by the end of primary. He'd get on faster if we could afford more than one 45 minute lesson a week, but we can't. We also can't afford for him to learn a second instrument at the moment.

Maybe I wouldn't feel so gutted about the whole thing if I didn't have a child with sn getting inadequate support in the state system, and didn't live in an area which is full of over subscribed faith schools or rough comprehensives.

I DO believe in state education. The teaching I had at A-level when I went to a state FE college was outstanding, and there are so many amazing teachers working in the state system. But secondary state education in the UK is so socially polarised in some parts of the country (like the bit I live in unfortunately). Add private schools into the mix along with postcode issues, grammar schools and faith schools, and the whole system can end up being incredibly unfair to some children. And in my particular case it's my kids who are the losers in an unfair system.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 04-Feb-13 11:25:45

Jealousy is a very ugly trait.

I don't feel the need to explain your perceived unfairness to my children who go to state schools, because they are in charge of their own destiny. I tell them children who go to private schools have parents that can afford to pay for their schooling. That's all. Unfairness doesn't come into it.

Plenty of children thrive in state schools and make the most of the opportunities presented to them, and plenty of children in state schools waste the academic chances they have been given. I'd rather teach my children to make the most of what they have, rather than tell them that they are being treated unfairly.

And don't think that grammar school isn't accessible to you because you can't afford prep school or private tutors. It is perfectly possible to do the preparation work yourself for very little money.

HappyAsEyeAm Mon 04-Feb-13 11:27:01

I really understand where you're coming from. I know that you would like to give your children every opportunity you can and make their lives as full and interesting as possible.

I can share my experiences with you if you'd like. It is possible to succeed in education and in work and get to the top even if you don't have the private school and/or grammar school opportunities as a child. Granted, it can seem more difficult, but its certainly possible.

I went to the local primary school and local comprehensive and local tertiary colege after that (local comp didn't have a 6th form). My schools were ofsted good/satisfactory, full to bursting with kids, and there was a culture of not trying too hard as you were made fun of for being interested in what was being taught and it simply wasn't cool to try and do well. I hated school, but I had no option but to attend - my parents couldn't have afforded a private school either and I just had to get on with it.

I basically did only just well enough to get into university to do a degree in a subject I absolutely loved, and then worked my arse off at university to get a good degree and then a good masters degree in the same subject. And that put me in the best position to apply for jobs in my sectory (Law). I got a training contract to be a solicitor at a top City firm, who gave me a grant and paid ny tuition fees to do a Legal Practice Certificate qualification, and then worked my arse off again during my two year training contract and was given a job at the same firm at the end of it.

Ten years on, I'm still at the same firm, and I have enjoyed my career and been rewarded for it.

We all do the best for our children. My parents supported me and stimulated me at home -we always had a good newspaper lying around, talked about what was going on in the world etc. They broadened my horizons all the time, even when I didn't realise it. They tried their best to be good role models, and make me see the opportunities out there. And then it was up to me to do the work.

Yermina Mon 04-Feb-13 11:28:08

"It's not your SILs fault"

No. I don't 'blame her'.

It's not the fault of individual parents. It's the system that is at fault.

Miggsie Mon 04-Feb-13 11:31:10

I think your PIL are very insensitive if they go on and on about the boys being at private school knowing yours are not.

Sounds a bit like rubbing it in.

I would avoid the PIL.

Many many people are better off than you (and me) and life is unfair.

Also, lots of kids at private schools never see their parents - who work all hours to earn the money to pay for private school.

My brother pays more in tax than DH and I earn - and I have to sit through him whinging about paying tax on all his earnings and how it isn't fair. He isn't a happy person - all he cares about is money.
I'm disabled, but that's irrelevant apparently...him having to pay tax is far worse. Some people are just pains. I just tune it out now. Used to drive me bonkers.
I have learned to make the best of what I have. SOmetimes it is a bitter pill.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 04-Feb-13 11:31:33

Yes, life isn't fair. Some children have parents who are better educated, more loving, more pushy, more wealthy. Some children are healthier than others, some have complex needs, and some are innately bright.

Wouldn't it be nice if education mitigated that, just a bit, just tried to, rather than entrenching it? If, with all the manifold unfairnesses there are at the age of five, just during the school day, just where children learn about the world outside their own families and their own circle, could all be together on the same footing?

YANBU to feel its unfair, op, but don't let it get you down. Private school isn't a ticket to a better life.

trustissues75 Mon 04-Feb-13 11:31:46

It is unfair but that's life. My DH refuses to pay child support so I can't afford all the extras such as extra tuition, or sending him to the stage school DS wants to go to....but that's life. It's natural to want the best for your child(ren) but that's al you can do...your best with what you got. |If it's any consolation my parents nearly bankrupted themselves putting me through private school..I'm a huge disappointment to them.

PolkadotCircus Mon 04-Feb-13 11:32:13

Clouds if you go to a private school you have advantages to get into a uni along with contacts.You then go to the best unis and get the best jobs.You can then ensure your kids get the same because you earn the money to do so and so it goes on.

This is only going to get worse as more middle class parents are going to be priced out.

Imagine having to explain to two children why it was fair that one child was going to have much better experience of education and probably better life chances, dependent on whether their parents were rich or not

Well, maybe it will give them the drive and determination to do well for DS understands if we can't afford something he wants. That's life and it may seem unfair but that is just the way it is.

As I said before, it sounds like the school are at fault as lots of state schools are brilliant.

HelpOneAnother Mon 04-Feb-13 11:33:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

elizaregina Mon 04-Feb-13 11:33:44

"I'd rather teach my children to make the most of what they have, rather than tell them that they are being treated unfairly."


"Imagine having to explain to two children why it was fair that one child was going to have much better experience of education and probably better life chances, dependent on whether their parents were rich or not."

Nothing in life is a level playing field and you have no idea whats going on behind closed doors at anyone elses house.

The best you can do is make the best of what you have - and create a stable and happy home for your child, and dont let them be exposed in anyway to how you feel about this.

Yermina Mon 04-Feb-13 11:33:59

"because they are in charge of their own destiny"

Does that mean that children who go to private schools, who are much more likely to go to top universities and get highly paid jobs, are successful SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY'RE MORE CLEVER AND HARD WORKING than children who have been through the state system?

Of course not.

"Jealousy is a very ugly trait"

It is. But I'm a human being. It's hard to accept that my children have got a shitter hand in life, through no fault of their own, and through no fault of mine or DH's - it's just the system we live in.

orangepudding Mon 04-Feb-13 11:34:38

I really think you need to stop feeling so bitter. Plenty of people can do well if they have great support at home, concentrate your efforts on helping your children.

Not all private schools are great. The one local to me got a 50% pass A-C at GCSEs this year!

Yermina Mon 04-Feb-13 11:36:54

"The best you can do is make the best of what you have - and create a stable and happy home for your child, and dont let them be exposed in anyway to how you feel about this"

Of course we do this.

Unfortunately ds1 has already expressed a wish to go to his cousin's school - has heard about all the things his cousin gets to do and what a fantastic school it is. I've told him he won't be able to go there.

MerylStrop Mon 04-Feb-13 11:37:02

Hully's post at 11.00.51.

If I had my way all private and church schools would be abolished.

seeker Mon 04-Feb-13 11:37:23

Of course it 's unfair.

GrendelsMum Mon 04-Feb-13 11:38:23

Oh dear, it does sound stressful for you, particularly if you feel you're always being told what a wonderful time your DNs are having.

Thinking practically about what you can do - can you and your DH start looking round for jobs in other areas where you'd feel happier about the quality of education? Could you identify target areas where you could both find jobs, and ask MNers about their experience of the schools there?

re. the music - ironically, as a keen musician, I wouldn't worry about it. Music is an interest and a talent for the whole of somone's life, not something that is restricted to the ages of 4 to 18. Your DS probably isn't going to become a professional musician (very few people do, including most people that study music for a degree, and it's a very hard life), but he can continue to get a great deal of joy out of playing as an amateur throughout his whole life. He can take up new instruments and learn them in the future, he can join a choir and sing, he can practice his current instrument to the best of his ability and play it with a local youth orchestra. Maybe he'll end up enjoying it more in the long term for not being endlessly pushed now?

lljkk Mon 04-Feb-13 11:38:50

Why does PIL tell you these things, are they trying to make you feel bad?

It is possible that the PILs are always telling SIL how hard you work, how brilliant you do with much less support than some, how your kids are challenged but you support them brilliantly, you are very committed and involved , enabling them to make most of their lives. All subtle digs that SIL could change her ways for the better, too. I've heard a few stories of PIL who do that kind of thing to different sets of offspring. You might be surprised what SIL had to say on what she hears about your family.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 04-Feb-13 11:39:26

Clouds if you go to a private school you have advantages to get into a uni along with contacts.You then go to the best unis and get the best jobs

Only if you make the most of it, which plenty of people don't. I went to private school, and wouldn't have got into uni with contacts over someone who went to state school and had better grades because I was a bit of a bum. The people I went to school with vary massively. A few have amazing jobs, many don't. But those that do still worked their arses off to get where they are.

It does not automatically follow that someone who is privately educated will always be successful in life, just the same as someone from state school won't automatically be unsuccessful.

It is much more important to teach children that you get out of life what you put in to it (whether that is always true or not is a different matter - no point in pissing all over their enthusiasm before they even get to secondary school). I don't think the OP is doing her children any favours with the attitude she has, and that attitude is far more detrimental to children than having cousins that go to private school.

WorraLiberty Mon 04-Feb-13 11:39:39

There are some fantastic state schools though OP

WRT music lessons, my DS (year 9) has been learning the violin since he was in year 5. He's done/is doing remarkably well and has been given the opportunity to play with the London Symphony Orchestra amongst others 3 times now.

Yet I've never paid a penny for his music lessons, it's provided for free by the LA for all pupils.

I think it's a bit of a postcode lottery though, so maybe it's more to do with the fact not all state schools provide the same opportunities...rather than looking at the private/state school debate.

Yermina Mon 04-Feb-13 11:41:03

"Could you or your spouse ask the ILs to stop going on about private school"

It's MIL mainly. I'll NEVER tell her this. I'm frightened of her.

However, my other SIL, who has two very talented and lovely children at the local state school did unleash her tongue a bit last night when MIL went into one about it.... she also feels it's unfair but isn't as unhappy as me because her children are really thriving at their state school. I think I'm unhappier because I don't think my ds's are getting a good deal at their school (particularly my ds with sn).

PolkadotCircus Mon 04-Feb-13 11:41:17

You can have 2 kids of equal ability.The privately educated child will have far more chance of getting into a top uni than the state. Privately educated children less able than a state child will have more chance of getting into a top uni-utter madness and very,very wrong.

Yermina Mon 04-Feb-13 11:43:51

Worra - you are right. There are some superb state schools. And amazing teachers in the state system.

But it is a postcode lottery.

Re: music lessons, they do provide 2:1 instrumental lessons for the last two years of primary at ds's school, but the quality of teaching is dire. DD made less progress in piano in 2 years with the school (not for lack of talent) than DS made in one term with an external teacher.

ouryve Mon 04-Feb-13 11:44:11

We want to move DS1 into a non-maintained (ie independent) specialist school for bright boys with ASD and ADHD. Will that be unfair, then?

elizaregina Mon 04-Feb-13 11:45:31

In terms of lifes social contacts there is a big difference between schools like Marlbough stowe - eton etc and your local independant school.

Yermina, all of us who cant afford to send children where we want could feel like this. I have seen this attitude persoanlly and it was devestating the child in question who then grew up with a massive chip on his shoulder and " IF ONLY" he had got into x school he wouldnt have any problems and would have done better in life.

You have made me realise that my DD's cousins = when DSIL has children will also 99% go to private a human I imagine I will feel a slight prick of " what if" too.

But it honeslty doesnt matter.

I have a group of friends some private and some state - when we were younger - some were sent on expensive journalist courses - and one girl the one who had least family money didnt....she used to look a bit sad etc but guess what - SHE is now top of a very popular magazine - has an incredibly glamourous lifestyle, and yet she is the one whose family couldnt afford to send her to expensive courses BUT her mother DRUMMED it into her all the time..." you can do whatever you want to do". she had confidence basically the others didnt have it nor the nautural talent.

Funnily enough when she was quite low down on the mag, she used to complain it was full of public school types. Her talent and confidence however have served her well.

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