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Bizarre notion: private good for boys, girls will do well anywhere

(131 Posts)
duchesse Tue 21-Dec-10 10:53:38

Has anybody else encountered this weird logic that private school is good or even desirable for boys, but that their sisters will do well anywhere so can go to the local state school? It was this bizarre statement from my MIL that ensured that I went back to work so that my daughters could go to the same fee-paying schools that their brother was attending.

Is it a generational thing? And is it utterly sexist or on the contrary, a compliment of girls' ability to knuckle down and perform regardless of what's going on around them (which obviously is not the case for many girls). My feeling is that it's an antiquated utterly sexist thing- that there's no point educating girls as much as boys as they'll just leave education and get pregnant. What do you think?

My son was utterly failing in state primary (completely disengaged in classes of 36) by the age of 6, so we took the hard decision to send him to prep school from year 3. Hard because I was dead set against private school back then. I just did not want to see my bright bright boy unhappy and failing for ten more years.

My MIL offered to pay his fees, which bless her she has done ever since then. But she maintained that state education was fine for girls because "girls do well anywhere". I could not accept that classes of 30-35 and no sports or clubs or extra-curricular stuff was fine for the girls but not fine for the boy, vs the 15 in a class, individual attention, 8 hours a week of physical activity and multitude of extra-curriculars offered at our son's mixed prep. Having endured the same situation in my own family I was buggered if I would allow it to be repeated, so I was propelled back into work when my daughters were 4 and 2, which has been overwhelmingly a good thing. I just wanted to be in a position to pay my daughters' fees, which I have done ever since.

They are doing extremely well where they are (very good selective academic schools with wide range of extra-curricular stuff) and I absolutely do not believe that they would be doing as well had they gone to the local state schools. For a start they would not have been able to do triple science, Latin, Greek and play in the orchestras and music ensembles they have access to. There is only one grammar school around here and even that does not offer them these opportunities (apart from the triple science). The lure of not having to spend any money on them would have been quite appealing had it not been for the huge and unfair divide it would have created between my children. Either I would have had to let my son fail in the state system (seriously he nearly "failed" his KS1 SATs aged 6, or would have if we hadn't withdrawn him from school. now don't get me wrong, I didn't give a shit about SATs and was not about to put pressure on him to perform in them, but I did not want him to feel like an academic failure at the age of 6).

So what do you: sexist or based on fact?

cory Tue 21-Dec-10 11:07:09

I think the truth is a little more complex than this. Many girls do fine in the state system. Many boys also do fine in the state system. Some girls do badly in the state system. And some boys do badly in the state system. Many girls and boys do fine in the private system. And some do badly (have a friend who was totally messed up at one of the best known public schools in the country).

The only thing you can do is to look at the individual child and then look at the individual schools around you and try to find a match. What do you think is best for this particular child?

I did well at ordinary comps- but so did all my brothers, so it may not be a girl thing. Dh otoh did badly at his academic private school, though he loved the school- he was simply too lazy to push himself to do the work. Might have been more of a family ethos thing, or a personality thing, than anything to do with those particular schools. Dh's school certainly sounds a lot nicer than mine, but the difference between a dedicated child and a lazy child was still greater than anything the school could do. (dh has grown rather more responsible since)

JingleBelleDameSansMerci Tue 21-Dec-10 11:10:02

Not so much bizarre and old fashioned, in my opinion. Absolutely smacks of the belief that women don't need an education. Makes me furious (if that's not already obvious).

JingleBelleDameSansMerci Tue 21-Dec-10 11:10:28

Sorry, meant to say "not so much bizarre as old fashioned..."

sue52 Tue 21-Dec-10 11:13:41

It's not a position I have ever understood. On another note I would rather have learned another modern language than spent so much time on Latin, it would have been far more useful.

PollyMorfic Tue 21-Dec-10 12:47:13

Depends a bit on the schools available locally as well.

We have a selection of very good girls' schools in the area, both comprehensive and selective, so there'd be no real reason to go private unless you're the kind of person who thinks private is always better (and there do seem to be some of those).

But the local boys' schools and the mixed schools (most of which used to be boys-only and have recently gone co-ed in an attempt to turn them around) are all pretty rough. My ds goes to a school a bit further away that we're happy with (though it's not amazingly outstanding), but if we'd been restricted to the local options then sending him private and keeping the girls in state schools would have been perfectly reasonable imo.

But I can also imagine doing the reverse if the local boys' schools were good and girls' options poor, so it's not really a sexist thing, more a pragmatic one. Also depends on the individual children -- my dds are both fine in very competitive selective (state) schools, but my ds is a bit less confident and likes to take his time with things, so an equivalent boys' school wouldn't have suited him anyway, even if he could have got in.

Horses for courses. But to make sweeping comments about what 'all boys' or 'all girls' need rather than looking at the individual child and the specific schools in question is just daft.

PinkElephantsOnParade Tue 21-Dec-10 12:48:44

Not so sure that people who say this think DDs don't need an education, more that girls are more self motivated and will therefore get more out of their education anywhere.

Boys are generally seen as being more likely to need a bit of a shove to do their best (not by me, but is is a widely held belief) so may be seen to need the motivation of a private school to reach their full potential.

All based on generalisations which are often not true, but I think it is more about self motivation than believing girls don't need an education.

sunnydelight Wed 22-Dec-10 04:21:47

The primary dept of our (private, Australian) school is boy heavy for the simple reason that people are more inclined to move boys from the public (state) schools than girls which would suggest that boys struggle more in the public system. The intake is fairly even in kindy (reception) but in both of the "intake years", Y3 and Y5, boys far outnumber girls (to the point where the school will actively favour girls on the waiting list to try and even the balance).

There are a huge number of single sex private schools here for both genders, so I really don't think it's a case of boys being favoured over girls in terms of wanting to give them a good education, but it is interesting that the "reactionary movers" tend to be boys.

itsawonderfuldarleneconnorlife Wed 22-Dec-10 04:34:27

It's not so simple an issude that it can be boiled down to boys v girls, private v state.

If I was in a position where I could pay the fees for only one of my DCs then I would rather one went than neither just to satisfy a sense of equity. I would then want the child who could most benefit from the private school in question to go there. If this is the boy is that sexist?

I went to a top co-ed private school and it pains me to say it but from what I hear on the grapevine and see on facebook the boys have done 'better' career-wise than the girls. If you see education as an economic equation with fees spent translating into future earnings then boys probably will have a greater return but education is much more than that.

JingleBelleDameSansMerci Wed 22-Dec-10 08:36:06

Wow. There is no way that if I had more than one child and but could only afford fees for one that either of them would be going to a fee paying school unless one had special educational needs. I think you'd be setting up the siblings for years of resentment.

deaddei Thu 23-Dec-10 19:55:26

I know someone whose ds goes to private school but dd goes to state.
Ds has a horse instead.

nurseblade Thu 23-Dec-10 20:01:43

My sister and I went to private school while my 2 brothers went to state school. My parents said it was because we were more hardworking so would make better use of the opportunity.

It has created a massive divide in our family though.

orangutangerine Thu 23-Dec-10 20:17:21

My DS is down to start a private co-ed prep next September and my DD already has her name down to start in a couple of years. It didn't even cross my mind to send him and not her. However, my mum did make a comment when we were discussing them going privately along the lines of "it's especially important for DS". On quizzing her she admitted that it's because he will probably be the main breadwinner one day whereas my DD will probably have someone to support her. An out-dated and generational opinion.

I knew little about the private education system but I was surprised at how different it is for boys and girls - don't know if that's just particular to our area. It does seem to perpetuate things a bit though. Here, a majority of the private boys secondaries require you to take Common Entrance at 13, whereas the private girls secondaries have National Curriculum based entrance exams at 11. This means that it is much harder for boys to transfer from the state system as they don't get 'prep'ared for Common Entrance unless they go to a private prep. I don't understand why it's so different in this day and age.

PureAsTheColdDrivenSnow Thu 23-Dec-10 20:20:03

I have heard that very able, clever children will do just as well at a state school as at private, and that it's kids who may otherwise be let down by the state system that can thrive at a private school. I guess she's saying that in general (statistically) boys struggle more at school than girls..

singingcat Thu 23-Dec-10 20:22:51

It's nothing to do with ability or girls being more hardworking

The subtext is the girls don't need to be educated because they can just marry someone rich. Honestly, that's what people really mean when they say that girls will be fine at state

PureAsTheColdDrivenSnow Thu 23-Dec-10 20:26:14

singingcat, really? I'd never have thought of that (naive)

NeverReady Thu 23-Dec-10 20:39:17

There was an article saying exactly that in a recent edition of Tatler singingcat (I was at the hairdressers. I wouldn't dream of buying it!). Basically it was saying that what with private boarding fees being 24k plus (and 'even' a good day school being about £11 - 15k...) it made sense to send your son as your daughter would probably marry well and wouldn't need an education (I'm not sure what it is they think children get at state schools). There was very little attempt to dress it up.

Quattrocento Thu 23-Dec-10 20:47:38

I would have been up in arms about this before I had my children ...

Now i have a girl who's a self-starter academically but has totally given up on all the music and sport and actively rebelling against the strictures of an academic independent school. She'd be brilliant in a state school which'd be much lighter touch. Even if the teaching might be a bit less stretching.

DS on the other hand needs kicking. Repeatedly. He would fail utterly in the state system.

It might be of course the respective characters (rather than the genders) of my two children. But I do think gender has something to do with it ...

singingcat Fri 24-Dec-10 00:11:53

No honestly, when people say that girls are better off in the state system most are secretly thinking 'What's the point of shelling out for a girl's education when she's just going to get married, have babies and scale down career massively/give up.'

ThoseArtisticTypes Fri 24-Dec-10 10:04:45

I would prefer my daughters to be in the state system and my sons in private schools. I feel that boys do not concentrate as well and benefit from the huge amount of sport (DS plays 2 hours every day 6 days a week). That is not to say that my daughters would not benefit but it is still a mans world and I don't want my girls sheltered in a nice private school. Sending them to state school helps them develop a backbone and fighting spirit so they can take on any man in the working world. Interestingly, the woman in OH's business who are in high positions were all state educated whereas men with the same roles are all privately educated.

So it's not about paying for the boys because they are "boys" but choosing schools that will suit them. I actually think private schools promote marriage more and grabbing yourself a rich man than a state school does.

violethill Fri 24-Dec-10 10:16:43

What cory says.

It's far more complex.

DH and I did fine in state schools. Our kids have done/are doing fine. I think its more to do with personality type/motivation etc than gender.

DilysPrice Fri 24-Dec-10 10:34:16

Singingcat I'm sure some people do say this for simply sexist Tatler reasons, but absolutely not all. My mate and I, who are both very pro state education are both much more concerned about our DSs' secondary choices than our DDs' - not because we expect our highly academic girls to "marry well" but because DSs are much more likely get stabbed on the walk home from school than DDs. These are of course worst case scenarios, but in a genuinely rough school things will go horribly wrong for far more boys than girls, (just look at the mortality rates for teenagers by gender) and if private is what it takes
to remove the fear of the worst case scenario for my precious DS, and DD is already thriving at a good state secondary well ..... I wouldn't absolutely rule it out.

GiddyPickle Mon 27-Dec-10 11:09:00

I don't know actually. In the past, we have considered these options for our own children and what leads us to believe that DD would thrive anywhere but DS wouldn't is the personality difference between her and her brother. DS is studious, shy, young for his age, awkward and bright. He finds it hard to make friends, is very well behaved (to the extreme), quiet and above average in almost all areas of the curriclum. As such, he is lost, absolutely invisible in fact in a state school. Teachers are thankful for the fact he needs zero attention and that is what he gets.

DD however is pushy and loud and clever and so so confident. She domainates a class even with 34 other children to compete with. She is chosen for every play, every activity and her work never suffers because she will keep demanding the teacher's attention with questions and requests for help until she has mastered the tasks. She has lots of friends and is at the centre of everything (she is always voted school rep, is on lots of councils and chosen for all the clubs and musical groups - basically she is the sort of child that I always seethed at when I saw my eldest, my son being overlooked at school in favour of the same pushy madam over and over again).

On that basis I can say that DD would do well anywhere but DS wouldn't.

ShanahansRevenge Mon 27-Dec-10 11:12:55

It's just dated...not worth worrying about. I have 2 girls and they'll both go private. I would choose stat if they were not all failing in my area.

We have had 2 girls arive at DDS prep this year....both from state shools who were failing.

ShanahansRevenge Mon 27-Dec-10 11:15:03

Thoseartistictypes....what a crock of crap!

"Help them develop a backbone"!!!

What? so ramming them into huge classes will help them? I assume your boys were already born with a backbone were they? But your girls were similar to some kind of shellfish...with none.

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