To scream, "Your Private School Children Are Not Being Discriminated Against at Uni"

(1000 Posts)
Triffid1 Thu 23-Sep-21 14:25:48

Between work and social I seem to have a pretty diverse group of people who I engage with regularly but as my DC are at an age where we're thinking about high schools, there have been quite a few conversations around this recently. I have now had not one but THREE separate conversations with parents who are planning to send their children to private schools who have expressed concern that it might "disadvantage" them because the universities are prioritising state school children.

Clearly, every time someone says this, I immediately move them further down the pile of people I want to hang out with. But why is this so prevalent? Yesterday, talking with a client on Zoom, where he was ringing from his lovely home office in his leafy suburb of London I didn't actually know what to even say but I wanted to yell, "FFS, if there's a small shift so that the small number of private school children don't get the majority of places at the top universities, you'll have to live with it." Instead I simply changed the subject politely. Argh.

OP’s posts: |
Caplin Thu 23-Sep-21 14:30:38

I took my kids out of private primary (our local primary was one of the worst in the city), but to the horror of other parents I'm taking them out to go to our very decent (mid table) state secondary. I never really wnated to get stuck in tehprivate school bubble.

But I learned that lots of private school parents in Scotland take their kids out on S6 and put them into state secondary as they are more likely to get a spot in a decent uni! In Scotland most exams are done and dusted in S5 so can be a bit of a doss year for bright kids.

Talk about gaming the system!

DorotheaDiamond Thu 23-Sep-21 14:33:33

Moving for 6th form (at least in England) doesn't help - universities ask for all schools attended! Plus it isn't just state vs private - it's the least good state schools who go onto the contextual grades admissions list - going to a highly selective grammar will not be any different to going private.

EatYourVegetables Thu 23-Sep-21 14:33:46

It’s exactly the same argument as “white males are being discriminated for XYZ”.

BlameItOnTheBlackStar Thu 23-Sep-21 14:35:36

Wow really @Caplin I'm Scottish and have never heard of anyone doing this!

PooWillyNameChange Thu 23-Sep-21 14:37:27

Yes it's bollocks. My old boss used to bang on about the same (she now has one at Harvard and one at Oxford so they seem to have managed). DD went private up until year 8 but she isn't extremely academic so either way I don't think she'll be jostling for an Oxbridge slot...I kind of feel a bit relieved I don't have to lose sleep over this rubbish.

Limejuiceandrum Thu 23-Sep-21 14:37:54

If you spend all that money on education and then blame the said education on wether your kid goes to a top uni or not then I think you are a touch delusional about your perfect darlings.

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PooWillyNameChange Thu 23-Sep-21 14:38:42

Also same boss who complained was very feminist, which is great, but why don't people see the parallels between different fights for equality? It's like the men who moan they've now got less of a shot at C suite 🙄

dizzydizzydizzy Thu 23-Sep-21 14:39:40

What @DorotheaDiamond said.

My kids have been v lucky. They are at a state comprehensive that has a small 6th form. We were considering sending DD1 to a super selective grammar school (she was offered a place) but decided against it in part because at the grammar school A Level glasses had 25-30 kids in them but in the comp, her classes ranged in size from 3 to 12. In other words, like private school!

TimeForTeaAndG Thu 23-Sep-21 14:39:44

Caplin

I took my kids out of private primary (our local primary was one of the worst in the city), but to the horror of other parents I'm taking them out to go to our very decent (mid table) state secondary. I never really wnated to get stuck in tehprivate school bubble.

But I learned that lots of private school parents in Scotland take their kids out on S6 and put them into state secondary as they are more likely to get a spot in a decent uni! In Scotland most exams are done and dusted in S5 so can be a bit of a doss year for bright kids.

Talk about gaming the system!

Really?! I'd have thought the uni could quite easily find out which institutions the applicant has attended.

DrWhoNowww Thu 23-Sep-21 14:48:55

Thing is, on a population level we absolutely should be prioritising equal and fair access to further education regardless off your parental and secondary education background.

But, if you happen to be the poor sod whose been slogging their guts out at private school for an oxbridge place and you lose out to someone with worse grades but they went to a worse school…it feels quite personal.

So I can also see why some parents feel for their “precious darlings”.

Really the solution is making sure primary and secondary education access is more fair and equitable - so all children have the same opportunities.

The educational disadvantage starts early, fixing it at university entrance punishes the wrong people.

QueeniesCroft Thu 23-Sep-21 14:57:22

It sounds like a classic case of equality feeling like oppression when someone previously had privilege. I don't for one moment believe that independent schools are being discriminated against, but I do believe that the extra "weight" that was previously added to an application by going to a "good" (ie private) school is lessening.

TiredButDancing Thu 23-Sep-21 14:58:02

The educational disadvantage starts early, fixing it at university entrance punishes the wrong people.

Definitely this. Due to his sensory processing disorder (for which DS received no formal government/nhs support as it's not covered) he is extremely behind academically. We are paying for him to have private occupational therapy and tutoring in an attempt to help him catch up. Other, similar children, will not have this option.

And then, while discussing issues with his tutor I made a comment about DD being very different and that as we live in an area with lots of grammar schools it might be that she will attend one of them, the tutor pointed out to me that most children can't pass the grammar school entrance exams without tutoring because of the way they're taught at state schools. So if we do want to go that route, we will have to do at least SOME tutoring for her. Which means she will immediately be ahead of someone who might well be far cleverer, but without the parental means to help with a grammar school preparation.

Flyingantday Thu 23-Sep-21 14:58:31

I guess it’s that “sharp elbowed middle class thing” isn’t it… if you stretched in whatever way to get your kids into a private/selective school, it follows that you are likely to want them to get the best shot at uni… If the lower offers/increased places are a blunt tool to try to level up the disadvantage/lower grades that an equally bright student got at a less successful school or college, then it negates some of the advantage they paid for.

They want the best for their own child but don’t see that it just widens the gaps between the haves and have nots - mediocre students get places that brighter but less well off/ students from underperforming schools could have had.

I must admit, I benefitted from this, going to a Russell group uni, first in my family to go, poor postcode and school in a deprived area, so I ticked the poverty boxes, even though my education was good and family supportive. I did find that state school students with regional accents like me were a bit of an oddity when I got there though so maybe there is a social/diversity side to this as well.

Triffid1 Thu 23-Sep-21 14:58:59

QueeniesCroft

It sounds like a classic case of equality feeling like oppression when someone previously had privilege. I don't for one moment believe that independent schools are being discriminated against, but I do believe that the extra "weight" that was previously added to an application by going to a "good" (ie private) school is lessening.

This is a good way to put it. I need to remember this for if it comes up again! They'll still feel hard done by, but at least I can make a rational argument as to why they're being ridiculous.

OP’s posts: |
mbosnz Thu 23-Sep-21 15:00:20

Yes, but that person slogging their guts out at a 'worse school', for 'worse grades', doesn't that even the playing field? I can definitely see why Mum and Dad paying the private school fees could feel quite aggrieved.

notanymore2 Thu 23-Sep-21 15:01:12

If it opens up a previously biased playing field then it can only be a good thing. Time to blow open the old boys' network and embrace a more balanced demographic

HarrietsChariot Thu 23-Sep-21 15:07:47

It's one of those situations where trying to "level the playing field" makes things unfair. Like usual, there's a straightforward and fair solution - give the university offers and places to the students who get the best results, regardless of whether they were at a private or state school.

I faced this discrimination myself as it happens, when I was applying to six universities for offers I got five fair offers back and a rejection. The rejection was from the uni that I'd been warned not to bother with because they didn't like taking people from my type of school. (Won't say the university's name but I think the town it was in used to be called Snottingham.)

My belief has always been "equality through equality" - you don't get equality through discrimination.

callingon Thu 23-Sep-21 15:10:07

“But, if you happen to be the poor sod whose been slogging their guts out at private school for an oxbridge place and you lose out to someone with worse grades but they went to a worse school…it feels quite personal.”

This person is still very likely to get in though… and they could always try again next year! I (state) got an Oxbridge offer by making a huge effort with my subject, as did two (private) friends. Two other private friends did not particularly enhance their subject knowledge and did not get Oxbridge offers. I think that’s how it should be! I think a good interview process should be able to untangle who is really interested in what they want to study and who has been handed a reading list by the head of department, and take into consideration the fact that a school with the ‘infrastructure’ for doing well at Oxbridge is more likely to be able to hand over that reading list.

AnotherFruitcake Thu 23-Sep-21 15:12:06

QueeniesCroft

It sounds like a classic case of equality feeling like oppression when someone previously had privilege. I don't for one moment believe that independent schools are being discriminated against, but I do believe that the extra "weight" that was previously added to an application by going to a "good" (ie private) school is lessening.

Absolutely this.

Social anxiety expressing itself via private school does seem deeply ingrained in the English psyche (can’t speak for elsewhere in the UK, but spent 25 years living in various parts of England.)

Porcupineintherough Thu 23-Sep-21 15:14:20

@HarrietsChariot that doesnt sound fair at all, it sounds like entrenching privelige. The education children receive is in no way equal, neither are their circumstances, so why should only grades count?

Porcupineintherough Thu 23-Sep-21 15:14:49

privilege

Nesbo Thu 23-Sep-21 15:15:05

I think people people have to be honest about what they are paying for.

I think a lot of parents paying for private schooling do so because they want to give their child the best advantage in life, which in reality means an advantage over their peers who they will be competing with for the best jobs.

I don’t think we can pretend that state schools will ever be able to compete on a level playing field with schools that can raise so much money in fees from wealthy parents.

So then all the kids apply for university and we say that, whilst it wasn’t possible for a state school education to compete with a private education, we don’t think the privately educated kids should have (so much) of an advantage.

The reaction from the parents of privately educated kids is “but that was what I was paying for over all those years dammit!”

There will always be an inherent tension between embracing the existence of private education on the one hand, whilst trying to undermine one of the main reasons that some people are willing to pay for private education in the first place - which is to use money to buy advantage over people with less money.

Fairyliz Thu 23-Sep-21 15:18:39

Well I don’t know, isn’t the whole point of sending your children to private school is to get them into a better university and then a better job?
It’s like me paying for super fast broadband, I would complain if I then only got bog standard broadband the same as everyone else.

MsTSwift Thu 23-Sep-21 15:19:42

I’ve heard people express outrage that private school applicants aren’t given priority because their parents have paid so much and put in the effort! She kind of misjudged her audience on that one and assumed everyone at the dinner party was privately educated and was horrified Dh and I weren’t and funnily enough we did not agree with that gem!

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