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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.

chocoluvva Mon 04-Feb-13 11:45:47

Actually one 45min lesson a week is pretty good - it's more than my DC got - and she managed to get into a specialist music school.

Specialist music schools usually take potential into account as well as the technical ability reached. Many schools stress this. My DC's school also ask very specific questions about the amount of tuition the child has had, teacher, individual or group lessons.

It goes without saying that children from families who can afford private tutors etc are advantaged, but you are coming across in a poor light by just dismissing people's suggestions out of hand (without even thanking them by the way). If you encourage your children to enjoy educational things - reading, taking an interest in the news, useful hobbies etc you will be helping them to get good grades. Another possibility might be to reduce the cost of a private tutor by sharing with one or two other children. DD's tutor gives her and her friend a session for no extra fee once a fortnight.

I really do sympathise - I'm lucky enough to live in the catchment area of an excellent state school, but you won't do your children any favours by failing to investigate all the options.

Yermina Mon 04-Feb-13 11:46:32

"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"

The thing is though Grendel, is there are so few children at his school learning instruments that he already feels like a fish out of water. If he was at a school with a really thriving music department, and lots of other kids who were learning instruments and enjoying music, it would make a difference to his wanting to participate in group music activities, which are really important.

mrsjay Mon 04-Feb-13 11:47:18

All systems of privilege based on ability to pay are unfair

^ ^ that ( welcome back hully)

op let your jealousy go though it will eat you up honestly it will, can you get scholarships or bursaries in your area if you really want your children to go

Yermina Mon 04-Feb-13 11:48:26

"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?"

It's unfair that children with ASD (like my ds) won't generally get the educational provision they need to thrive unless their parents have got deep pockets.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Mon 04-Feb-13 11:48:50

YANBU about it being unfair. It is unfair that private education is generally better than state. That's why private education exists.

YABU with your defeatist attitude. You have 2 grammar schools your dc could apply for. This is a golden opportunity but you seem to have thrown in the towel assuming other people's dc at the private school are cleverer than your dc. They are NOT. I mean this in the nicest way OP but stop the toddler tantrums and start fighting for your dc to get the best education they can get. Start today.

Flobbadobs Mon 04-Feb-13 11:51:02

My MIL constantly goes on (and on) at us about how well my nephew is doing at his very exclusive private school, how clever he is, how much more he gets than children at state school. Am I jealous? No.
I'm glad he's doing well and enjoying himself there. Having a child who actually likes school is a bit of an acheivement in itself ime and if his parents want to pay through the nose for the privilege then so be it.
They haven't had a holiday since he started school. His Dad works all the hours sent to pay for the extra bits and pieces he just has to have for lessons and out of hours activities.
My Ds is a year younger than him. He is in bigger classes, the school is rated good rather than outstanding (an acheivement as it was in special measures 6 years ago!), the building is in bits although they are getting a new school building next year and they are in desperate need of new equiptment in some departments.
But he's happy and thriving there. It's an excellent school with dedicated professional staff who support the students and their families all the way through.
I don't see that my nephew got a better deal in life, he got a different one. Both boys will make of that what they will. No one can tell my son that he can't do something because of the school he attended. At 12 years old he knows what he wants to do and how to go about getting there. A state school on its own will not prevent this.

Yermina Mon 04-Feb-13 11:51:09

chocoluvva - I'm going to apply for state schools with good music provision for ds1. There are two within travelling distance (though we are nowhere near their catchment areas) which have a specialist stream of entry for children with ability in music. They are both massively oversubscribed though so I'm not pinning my hopes on him getting in.

3littlefrogs Mon 04-Feb-13 11:52:13

I took on an extra job to send my 8 year old to a prep school because he was suicidal due to bullying at his state primary. I wasn't about to let him jump off the roof in the name of fairness/political correctness.

If all state schools were good, and all HTs competent, and parents actually had a choice of good state schools (which they don't at the moment), that would be fair.

PolkadotCircus Mon 04-Feb-13 11:52:51

Just grammar schools are only an option if you can buy tuition.Many rich parents send their kids to private prep and /or spend thousands on tuition.There are only a few places so the rich cream them off and end up sending kids no more bright than your average Tom,Dick or Harry.As I said the vast maj of my ds's class I'm sure if given the benefits of a prep education and thousands on tuition could wangle into a grammar given half a chance.

It's utter madness.

chocoluvva Mon 04-Feb-13 11:54:02

"so few children at his school learning instruments that he already feels like a fish out of water"

DD's 'specialist music school' is actually a unit of 50 pupils within a state secondary school which has an excellent music dept (boosted by the music unit). Even there the pupils who get instrumental tuition are made fun off. "Nancy boy" being the most recent one I heard of.

FantasticDay Mon 04-Feb-13 11:54:44

Yes, of course it's unfair that some kids get a better start in life than others. (And I think it's qualitatively different from the bigger house thing - you can take steps yourself to earn money when you are an adult, but as a kid you don't really have any choice over your school). Having said that, some state schools are excellent - including one outstanding one near me in one of the most deprived areas of the country, and with an exceptionally high free school meals intake. It sounds like you are a caring and committed parent. Do you have the time/capacity to get on the PTA at the school your kids provide? Can you suggest after school enrichment activities? (My dd's infants' school offers French lessons and after school clubs in Spanish and Mandarin, as well as a chess club). Btw, my ex's cousin was funded by the council to attend a private school with excellent provision for Dyslexia as the support wasn't available in local schools. Could you look into this? (Assuming there is no better support than you are currently getting, nearby).

HelpOneAnother Mon 04-Feb-13 11:54:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Saski Mon 04-Feb-13 11:56:10

I feel for you. I don't think you're being unreasonable. I really hope this doesn't sound trite, but I think your kid is lucky that you're so concerned about his education. Have you considered either getting trained in special needs or even just reading up on it, and spending X minutes per night with your kid (can't tell if it's a boy or girl)? Are you a SAHM?

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Mon 04-Feb-13 11:57:36

PolkadotCircus I have a friend whose ds has just sat for a highly selective independent school. They have limited resources (to say the least) so have applied for a bursary. They didn't have the money for a tutor so did it themselves. I have no doubt whatsoever he'll get in. Not being able to afford a tutor would never put me off letting my dc sit for a selective school because I have a brain in my head and I would move hell and high water to at least give it a shot.

ProbablyJustGas Mon 04-Feb-13 11:58:10

I get it. I've had the same jealously when it comes to my niece, who is currently in a very posh private school doing advanced track math (although struggling with it), music lessons every day, organized sports, before school and after school clubs, music competitions in the city and a chance to perform in a school musical and school Christmas show twice per year, with costumes, sets and music tailored to the kids. IIRC, there are specialists at her school teaching music, art and gym.

Meanwhile, my DSD is at a state school, where the head had to choose between hiring an experienced primary teacher and hiring a part-time music teacher (she chose the experienced classroom teacher). The experienced primary teacher had to be the all-singing, all-dancing type and somehow conduct gym class, art lessons and music. This year, the school managed to get an instructor to teach violin and viola during school hours (hooray!), but DSD is not interested at all - she wants to play the piano, and the school can't offer that. The Christmas show this year had very, very little to work with - the best they could do for the older kids' show was a pop concert set to a karaoke machine.

My state school school education was a lot more like my niece's than my stepdaughter's. I sometimes feel like the best I can give my kids is worse than what I had. It's frustrating.

However, the other side of the coin is that my DSD's teachers do seem to listen to us. You can tell they really care about her, and they have adjusted her workload according to her abilities. They turn up at events like school discos, school book fairs, etc. I doubt the teachers running DSD's school Christmas show were paid any extra to do it, but there they were, putting the time in. My niece's teachers, unfortunately, have been nigh on incompetent sometimes - they have criticized my niece in the past for not picking up math as quickly as her classmates and one actually told my SIL at a parent-teacher conference what a struggle it was to manage a class size of 12. So, there are good points and bad points.

elizaregina Mon 04-Feb-13 11:58:15

The absoluty biggest thing that will undermine your own children compared to your dsils is not lack of money but a defeatist attitude, your writing them off before they have even started.

ask your dh to have a quiet word to mil about going on about it - or if your that upset tell her yourself. she may not have realised its upsetting, and is just happy some gc are going private.

Yermina Mon 04-Feb-13 11:58:57

"This is a golden opportunity but you seem to have thrown in the towel assuming other people's dc at the private school are cleverer than your dc. They are NOT."

No - I agree. But many have been taught in classes of 15 since nursery, have had years of tutoring, get 11+ booster classes at school, go on 11+ summer camps etc, so do have a pretty good head start. Grammar school entrance is so fiercely competitive around here - I know 5 children who've sat and not got in in the past two years, despite several years of tutoring, and despite being bright enough to have gone on to secure places at private schools which are considered some of the best in the UK.

It's a MASSIVE bun-fight, it really is.

My ds is bright enough to get on in a grammar school and enjoy it. But he's not a genius. There are hundreds and hundreds of kids applying whose parents and teachers consider them very bright, who will be sitting the test alongside my ds. And many of these children have had a better start educationally than he has, because they've been taught in very small classes since nursery.

chocoluvva Mon 04-Feb-13 11:59:21

Sorry for cross posting - slow typing.

I totally agree that the system is unfair and glad you're investigating options for your children.

FWIW, my DS (diagnosed as mildly ASD) had a very rough three years at his otherwise good primary school. IME, children like him often find primary school more challenging than secondary school. Many secondary schools have a 'quiet' room for children who need it at lunchtime - that might be worth finding out about.

Flatbread Mon 04-Feb-13 12:00:50

Well, what is to stop you from going to church and getting your children into a faith based school?

Or renting in a better catchment area?

Or changing jobs and moving to a town with better schooling?

Or taking a second job to pay for private school?

Or setting up your own business?

Or having only one child so you could give it the best?

Or home tutoring your children?

All these are within your ability. I don't understand the 'it's not fair' whining.

PostBellumBugsy Mon 04-Feb-13 12:01:14

YABU - all kids in this country are so lucky that they get state education. Stop whining about what other children have & make the best for your own.

You could have forced yourself to go to church every Sunday like thousands of other parents do, if you were that bothered about a church school.

Lots of kids from state schools do really, really well. Given that the majority of kids in the UK go to state school - they must do, otherwise we'd be up shit creek (well even more up shit creek).

How you haven't got a statement for your SN child? Have you tried? One of my DCs is SN & it can be a real battle (it certainly was for me) but if you don't try you won't get one - ever!

What about all the afterschool clubs or local clubs that you could make use of for your DCs? There is heaps of stuff out there.

Stop being jealous & make your own kids education as broad and fantastic as it can be.

Yermina Mon 04-Feb-13 12:02:00

Probably - I agree that there are many amazing teachers working in the state system.


I suspect on the whole that many of the most dynamic and talented people work in the state sector.

It's just shit that they have to work with such massive classes.

PureQuintessence Mon 04-Feb-13 12:02:00

It is not really that unfair.

If I had worked harder in school. If I had studied harder for my degree and gotten a 2.1 rather than a 2.2. If I had enough sense to study something other that Classics, like business, politics, or hey, medicine or law, rather than follow my dream da da dooda. If I had made the right choices to go for a highly paid job, to further my career. If I had chosen a different husband, a lawyer, or a doctor, rather than the lovely man I married. If If If. Then I too would have been able to afford private education for my children.

The fact is, I can only blame my own life choices for not being in a position to afford private schooling for my children. Nobody elses fault.

This means I cannot be jealous of those who can afford it. Only angry with myself for not having had more ambition and drive when I was younger.

Little does it help to sit on my 40 year old arse and moan. I do after all have a friggin useless Classics degree that I worked hard for, which in hindsight, was my first big mistake in adult life.

MiniTheMinx Mon 04-Feb-13 12:02:07

Totally justified OP

A two tier system of education is fundamental to the perpetuation of the class system. Liberals will tell you that you can mitigate against the very worst inequalities by indebting yourself through mortgages, paying for extra curricular activities or misleading you to believe that we have social mobility. Bare in mind that this liberal view is also necessary to keep the workers blind to their reality.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Mon 04-Feb-13 12:04:37

Yermina Don't believe the lie that is all privately educated dc are super bright. They're not! They may have a head start but don't let that worry you. At least give it a go and then if your dc get a gs education your sil will be the envious one.
I realise this may be hard but just do it and never worry about the competition. That's what I would do anyway but I'm the sort of person who loves a fight and proving people wrong.

chocoluvva Mon 04-Feb-13 12:07:23

Don't worry, Yermina, Flatbread has the solution - you must travel back in time then remember to only have 1 child. That way you'll be able to buy him/her a good education and devote your life to extra-curricular activities!

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