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Private education - a waste of money, for arseholes?

(209 Posts)
Pooella Wed 10-Oct-12 03:40:36

There's a certain irony in this title in that my DCs are both privately educated (both primary age)

And I apologise also for what must be the umpteenth rehash of the 'private vs. state' debate.

That said, what do you think?

I was thinking this having taken my DD to a playground near a state primary school. More community because the children tend to be local.

OTOH I shuddered a little when a couple of 'rough' kids came into the playground (about 9 or 10, swearing, etc.)

Though diverse ethnically the social profile of parents at private is very homogenous - if you're not a middle class, skiing at Christmas, type, you don't fit in.

We are quite well-off, about £150k/year net, but even so I'm conscious that senior education for 2 DCs is about a quarter-of-a-million. It is a little hard to see the value in that you can buy a whole set of after-school activities for about £1k/year (music, ballet, drama, sports, whatever you want), and then for bright children GCSEs and A Levels are not much of a challenge. (I went to a comprehensive school (albeit a rather leafy one) and got As and A*s in everything and then Cambridge, so hard to see what benefit I would have received from private.)

Outcomes so far from private? Posh accent, good behaviour, good levels of academic progress. But, we don't 'fit' in to the prep school parental mould, so not much social interaction for the DCs outside school (compounded with the greater distances to school), which is a shame.

My old school (now) gets about 80% A*-C, so it's not exactly Stabton Comprehensive, but I'm not sure if the 50-60%-A*-C-type places are necessarily mediocre (as in, if you've got the option to pay for it, as we do, then you'd be mad not to), or what.

There are some independent schools known for being for the 'nice but dim', but they still seem to get 80%+ on their GCSEs, and assuming the intake at these places is not up to the standard of the average comprehensive (which seems likely, unless you believe that being able to afford school fees means your kids are brainy), then they are presumably delivering better outcomes. But whether that is because the parents are more motivated, or because the school is better is not clear? Perhaps the expectations on the lower sets in comprehensives are not high enough? Or are they just too many kids/parents there that don't give a shit?

So is it in fact the nice-but-dim kids that get the value from private, where they will be coached to an inch of their lives to get them up to GCSE/A Level standard, whereas the brainy ones would get their A*s (almost) anywhere and might as well just go to the local comp and save £100k, and there will be plenty of motivated top set kids there to mingle with.

Brycie Wed 10-Oct-12 22:13:02


OwedToAutumn Wed 10-Oct-12 22:13:47

mnistoo, the question is not whether she got better/ lower marks than you, but whether she did better at the private school than she would've at the state school.

MsAverage Wed 10-Oct-12 22:14:17

RP seems to me a good investment if you strongly plan to live in this country (say, have a family business). Beyond the borders nobody would tell apart south England from Newcastle. Even in London, with its 30% of foreign-born population, not everyone would appreciate it.

I would vote for a house as a gift for a child rather than for a dialect for the same price.

HanSolo Wed 10-Oct-12 22:20:18

MsAverage- I beg to differ- people in the US watching British television programmes need subtitles to understand programmes with people speaking in Scottish, Geordie, Liverpudlian etc accents in them, as they cannot understand a word they're saying!

Way2Go Wed 10-Oct-12 22:37:23

It depends on circumstances. The child, the schools, the parents, the finances, the area..etc etc.

Repeat ad nuseum.


We saved ourselves about £100,000 - £150,000 by not sending our DS1 to private school, he loved his very school, and he is now studying medicine. I am sure he would have also enjoyed private school but he is glad he went to our local school.

We have two more DC's at our local comp. it's going well but I will have to let you know in a few years whether or not it was the right choice.

It's much easier to know the right decision retrospectively. grin

rabbitstew Wed 10-Oct-12 22:44:25

Even retrospectively you don't know the right decision, you just know that the decision you made didn't turn out as expected grin.

Way2Go Wed 10-Oct-12 22:45:36

Too true rabbit

APMF Wed 10-Oct-12 23:15:51

OP - Actually the irony is on you. YOU are the type of indie parent that gives the general population the idea that they don't want to mix with indie parents who are quick to judge others.

Feckbox Wed 10-Oct-12 23:19:24

In answer to your last paragraph, yes

jabed Thu 11-Oct-12 06:27:58

I don't agree with Private schools on principle. I think that if the powers that be didn't have the option of opting THEIR children out of state education, there would be more of a focus on ensuring state schools are fit for purpose

I had a mother like that - principled about state education until she had my troublesome brother, then she changed.

All removing the differentiation of private education would cause is ( asin comprehensives) a lowering of standard to the common denominator.
Those in power would still ensure their own childrens education, either by catchment (Ed Milliband) or by going abroad I suspect.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 11-Oct-12 08:04:23

>I do not believe that there are many good state schools

You need to look at evidence when choosing schools, rather than going on 'beliefs'. The evidence when we were choosing our DDs school was clear enough- her private primary was better (for her) than the state school options available to the child of atheist parents; her state secondary is better (for her) than the private schools in the area.

They didn't speak RP at her primary... non-broad Lancashire. Perfectly comprehensible with short vowels.

Farewelltoarms Thu 11-Oct-12 09:50:43

God where does this idea that Ed Miliband lives next door to the fanciest state school in Britain come from? His wife is a governor at Brookfield which I dare say is where their kids will go and it's a very normal primary school with, I'd guess, higher than average FSM. The comp he went to was one with very few middle class people precisely because it was located in an expensive area where most in private housing go private.
There was another thread talking about 'Islington millionaires living next to the best comprehensives' which made me give a wry laugh, since I live in Islington and it's the second poorest borough in London.

happygardening Thu 11-Oct-12 10:14:52

As someone who probably would be described as speaking RP apparently I sound just like a posh version of Princess Ann I am unconvinced that it necessarily helpful. Many people are initially wary thinking that I might be "stuck up" and I'm far from that. It would be disingenuous to change the way I speak but I as I work with Joe Public from all walks of life I am aware that barriers can be erected on first meeting.
I also love regional accents the beautiful but now sadly virtually extinct West Devon/North Cornwall accent with its fascinating vocabulary, a colleague with a Welsh accent, the beautiful sing song Nigerian accent, and even the Newcastle accent with its warm terms of endearment and a true South London accent accent although I'm less keen the hideous Kent estuary accent.
So I personally am not paying for RP or "people like us" (God help us) nor do I want "his peers to share my attitudes and values" because I'm hoping for diversity and that my DS having been exposed to a variety of views and opinions will grow into his own man than a clone of myself.

scaevola Thu 11-Oct-12 10:20:23

RP is pretty much extinct. Not even the Queen speaks it any more (she did in the 50s, but her voice has changed); Princess Anne appears never to have done so. It's not a synonym for any posh accent, nor for standard English.

It's one specific accent (think 1950s cutglass newsreaders in evening dress). It would be quite a handicap, I think, nowadays, and would probably come across as risible.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 11-Oct-12 10:23:49

>a posh version of Princess Ann
grin she's a bit common and horsey isn't she (Zara of course eschews RP)

But you're right... the stranglehold of RP has gone, you only need to listen to R4 with its selection of lovely, well modulated and comprehensible accents to know that its not the be all and end all nowadays. DDs school did elocution, it was all about clarity and expression, not forcing RP onto them. I do regret the teacher didn't get DD speaking nice Lancashire instead of having picked up my accent which is a bit too dahn sarf.

happygardening Thu 11-Oct-12 10:29:30

i do think the advantage of what is perceived as RP is understandable clear pronunciation. Few people struggle to understand me! i know from personal experience of the West Devon/North Cornwall accent that it can at times be as incomprehensible as Swahili to those from the outside and as we now live in a multicultural world clear pronunciation is probably very helpful.

happygardening Thu 11-Oct-12 10:31:28

GrimmaTheNome I think I speak normally but I am assured by my gently teasing colleagues that i dont!!

scaevola Thu 11-Oct-12 10:36:04

"what is perceived as" - hmmm. If you mean learning to speak in a standard English accent, taking elocution lessons to reduce regional accent, then just say so.

That's nothing to do with RP, which is a defined and specific accent, just like the various regional ones.

happygardening Thu 11-Oct-12 10:44:27

"If you mean learning to speak in a standard English accent, taking elocution lessons to reduce regional accent, then just say so."
No clear pronunciation not reducing regional accents I struggle more with the hideous Kent estuary accent than I ever did with Devon/Cornish accent (admittedly I had lots of practice) or my fiends glorious Newcastle accent both have their own vocabulary intonation and diction which those unfamiliar with it might struggle with but their pronunciation of the actual words was often pretty good. In fact Im rather sad at my lack of regional accent most people ask me "where do you come from?" as I am completely devoid of any accent perhaps I should start cultivating one.

SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Thu 11-Oct-12 10:49:32

"God where does this idea that Ed Miliband lives next door to the fanciest state school in Britain come from? "

No idea, it isn't (wasn't!) mentioned in this thread.

I don't think that general private versus state discussions are ever very fruitful. I take the view that you need to look at the school options in your particular area and work out the best path for your children.

We have chosen private at primary level because we wouldn't get into any faith schools and I wasn't happy with the quality of teaching and facilities at the primary schools we were eligible for. Additionally our local primary schools were dominated by one or two ethnic minorities (our children belong to one of those minorities) and I didn't want my children only mixing with people from a similar culture, speaking DH's language to their friends to the exclusion of anyone outside that culture etc. We got better ethnic and cultural diversity at the private school (although not economic diversity).

If we carry on living where we are then we will probably go down the private route for secondary as well because the results of the local state secondaries just don't compare. The private schools where we are have better facilities offer and more music and sport than the state schools. The local secondary academy near where we live has less outside space than my sons' prep school.

tiggytape Thu 11-Oct-12 10:56:23

That is very true Chaz - some of the fiercest anti-private-schooling people are also the ones who happen to live near incredible state schools with great teaching and fantastic facilities.

Brycie Thu 11-Oct-12 10:58:42

There's one way to get rid of private education; improve state education. In places where state secondary education is much better, the independent schools have much more of a Tim nice but Dim intake.

Farewelltoarms Thu 11-Oct-12 11:03:02

Skippy - jabed in a message a couple above mine said that of miliband. I think he's not a great labour leader but I don't think that's a fair accusation.

Portofino Thu 11-Oct-12 11:10:17

I believe that if there WERE no private schools, there would be more of a focus on ensuring there were no crap state schools. Investment in education would become much more of a priority.

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