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If you can afford private education but remain in the state sector...

(1000 Posts)
TheseJeansHaveShrunk Sun 30-Dec-12 08:59:01

It's going to be hard to avoid this becoming another state v private thread, but what I'm interested in is a slightly different take on that debate. It's not "which is better?" but "if you think state school is better even though you could afford private education, then why is that?"

The question is based on the assumptions that the DC in question is/are reasonably bright (so might benefit academically from academically selective education), that the state school is non-selective (as most people don't have access to grammar schools), and that you hope for your DC to go to a good university (to make the £££££ fees worthwhile!)

I've been mulling this over ever since I heard some maths professor from Cambridge talking on the radio about the age-old private v state inequality of Oxbridge admissions. He was all for improving access for state school applicants but said that the simple fact was that for maths, even the best state schools generally teach only to the A-level syllabus, whereas the best private schools take their maths/further maths A-level candidates well beyond the syllabus and so the state school applicants are at a huge disadvantage - they simply don't have the starting level of knowledge required for the course.

This made me wonder: with this sort of unequal playing field, if you have the choice of private education, what reasons might you have not to take it?

Would be interested to hear from those who've made this choice - how it's working out, or if your DC have finished school now, how did it work out? Did they go to good universities/get good jobs, etc? On the other side of things, if you paid for private schooling but now regret it, why?

My DC go to a state school by the way.

<Dons hard hat>.

creamteas Mon 31-Dec-12 09:34:47

Mumzy but this is the problem. They allegedly interview for potential, but actually pick students mainly on the basis of their schools.

Oh and in all my time as an academic I have never met a real 'leftie' academic at Oxbridge. I know this is what some of them claim, but it is not what they are. They make the right noises, but the actions speak loader than words.

rabbitstew Mon 31-Dec-12 09:36:40

It is not a given if you don't mention it - either you accept people with potential and give them remedial classes to catch up or you don't. Generally, according to the arguments on this thread, universities do not feel they should be forced to give remedial classes to bright students who have been let down by the education system, they would rather go for students who have already achieved the desired standard, since there are plenty of those to choose from.

Bonsoir Mon 31-Dec-12 09:36:43

If pupils from certain schools are disproportionately represented in the intake of the UK's best universities, does that represent prejudice and discrimination or just the fact that some schools do a hell of a better job than others?

Bonsoir Mon 31-Dec-12 09:38:28

I personally don't think universities should be giving remedial classes to anyone. Basic education needs to be achieved before university, while children are at home. The costs involved in filling in gaps at university are mind-boggling.

rabbitstew Mon 31-Dec-12 09:38:32

You're going back to EDUCATION again, Bonsoir, despite claiming not to need to mention it... confused

rabbitstew Mon 31-Dec-12 09:39:11

In other words, Bonsoir, universities are looking for educated brains...

rabbitstew Mon 31-Dec-12 09:40:35

with the noble exception of overseas students, who are just there for the variety?... grin

Bonsoir Mon 31-Dec-12 09:45:15

How many times do I need to repeat it, rabbitstew? It is a given that universities recruit people who are already well-educated. It is ludicrous to make that qualification. Unless you think that education to the age of 18 has a purpose other than education? hmm

seeker Mon 31-Dec-12 09:49:12

"If pupils from certain schools are disproportionately represented in the intake of the UK's best universities, does that represent prejudice and discrimination or just the fact that some schools do a hell of a better job than others?"

Well, you seem to be assuming the latter, and completely discounting the former. Personally, I think that both apply. But that the "better job" that some schools do is often teaching how to be the person that passes the prejudicial and discriminatory selection process..........

Bonsoir Mon 31-Dec-12 09:51:27

seeker - knowing how to get past the goal posts is an exceedingly valuable life lesson. We do children no favours by pretending that every life stage is a 100% fool proof fair and reasonable assessment of their innate qualities (as if we were able to measure them...).

creamteas Mon 31-Dec-12 09:57:30

Bonsoir but when the goalposts are designed that only part of the population could ever pass, that is discrimination.....

It amazes me everyday that people who would not dream of colluding with racism or sexism still support privilege of the basis of social class. My refusal to do this is part (returning to the thread) of my ideological objections to private schools

rabbitstew Mon 31-Dec-12 09:57:55

But Bonsoir, I think it is ludicrous, when education is at the heart of it all, to pretend that this means it can go without mention. Since the whole problem with universities, state schools and A-levels at the moment focuses on what makes someone well educated and prepared for university, you HAVE to refer specifically to education. We do not have IQ tests for university entrance in this country, we have exam results and interviews and possibly further entrance exams - we therefore do not recruit the best brains, we recruit the best educated brains.

Bonsoir Mon 31-Dec-12 09:58:32

"Bonsoir but when the goalposts are designed that only part of the population could ever pass, that is discrimination...*

No, it is not discrimination to allow competition and have winners.

Bonsoir Mon 31-Dec-12 10:00:27

rabbitstew - I think you being very petty in order to prove a pointless argument.

When we are talking about education (it is the umbrella topic), there is no need to qualify everything with the bleeding term over and over again...

creamteas Mon 31-Dec-12 10:04:31

Bonsoir removing prejudice is not anti-competitive. It just means that entry is open to all....

rabbitstew Mon 31-Dec-12 10:04:47

Bonsoir, you are being very petty pretending university recruitment is all about your brain and not about your education. Of course you need to qualify what you mean by recruiting the "best brains," since the whole bl**dy argument with respect to getting more state school students into university is about whether someone still has the potential to excel if given the opportunity at age 18 to catch up when compared to someone who has had years of having their brain coached in a particular way. You clearly don't believe it is worth the effort. It is not petty to point that out.

MordionAgenos Mon 31-Dec-12 10:05:27

I wonder how many of the people commenting on this thread have ever gone through the Cambridge selection process for any subject, let alone for maths. grin

You did an exam. If your answers were interesting enough (Cambridge maths - there weren't exCtly 'right' answers to many of the questions) they called you for interview. I know that for things like history and English they asked all sorts and this might have been discriminatory (although I knew plenty of state school historians. I didn't know anyone doing English though, posh or state). But for maths, the interview was just like a tutorial. I was taught something completely new to me which I hadn't seen/covered before (it wasn't on the further maths syllabus). It was something from the first year tripos. Then, we did a variety of problems, based on what I had just been taught. It was basically a tutorial. It wasn't discriminatory at all. There was another interview which was more of a cosy fireside chat which I suppose could have had the potential to be discriminatory but I spent the whole hour talking about dr who and a bit about music and I really don't think you needed to have gone to posh school in the mid 80s to know about either of those two topics.

Cambridge is the best university in the world for maths. To expect it to dumb down the maths tripos because GCSE and A level maths have been ruthlessly refocussed to be accessible to people who can't really do maths is neither realistic nor sensible.

Bonsoir Mon 31-Dec-12 10:06:41

Nobody should be given the opportunity to catch up at 18. To suggest that our economy can afford such a luxury is the path to self-destruction.

rabbitstew Mon 31-Dec-12 10:10:33

But you have to say that in black and white, Bonsoir, don't you? Because that is what everyone is arguing about. It is therefore not petty to bang on about education.... grin

DontmindifIdo Mon 31-Dec-12 10:16:03

Creamteas - the problem isn't the private schools "winning" it's the state schools "failing" - why is it that the additional knowledge and background that private school student have is seen as unfair that the private schools taught them, not that it's unfair that the state ones didn't?

Is it money? I can see why additional financial resources would make a massive difference in sports and music, but why is it making a massive difference in subjects like maths? Is it a case that students get more time with teachers and smaller classes so the teachers can give more one-to-one attention? Is it that private schools don't just focus on the DCs leaving their school having passed their A levels, but having the skills and knowledge to do the next stage (uni)? Is it that the teachers in private schools are significantly better and is it not achievable in the state sector if that was made the aim?

Perhaps rather than thinking it's unfair that private schools do certain things better, focus on why state schools are fucking the exact same thing up? Why are state schools not managing this too? (And don't tell me it's quality of students, I refuse to accept that the top sets in Maths at most state schools at 16 couldn't pass the enterance exams for the majority of private schools when they were 10/11).

creamteas Mon 31-Dec-12 10:18:04

Bonsoir that is rubbish. Every year I accept a number of students on our degrees that, for one reason or another, do not have A levels or equivalent education but have potential to achieve.

During the first year they have to work harder and may take more staff time in terms of guidance (no extra classes are put on for them). By the end of the first year, there is usually no difference between them and the people coming in with good A levels. I also have students coming in with good A levels who can't cope and also need that support.

And guess what, doing that is my job it is what the UK tax payer is playing for (oh and I am still a successful researcher as well, just in case you had any doubt).

DontmindifIdo Mon 31-Dec-12 10:18:30

But also rabbitstew - why should state students need to catch up at 18? They have been in teh state sector having a stupid amount of money spent by the state on their education since they were at the latest, 5. Why in all those years should they still then get to University having not been taught enough? Private schools manage it over the same time frame, why can't the state sector? It's shocking that noone thinks it's very very wrong that private school education is better on subjects like maths that don't need expensive equipment/playing fields etc.

creamteas Mon 31-Dec-12 10:24:56

Don't mind it is not the money it is the cultural capital relating to education (as in everything you know, not just school), what is recognised as distinction and taste.

The middle-classes have the ability to define their 'taste' as superior and organise society on that basis. Think only Fools and Horses or other class based comedies. It doesn't matter how much money Del-boy has, he can never pass as middle-class because he doesn't understand the social rules....

creamteas Mon 31-Dec-12 10:26:54

Actually I have never seem any real evidence that maths is superior at private schools (only ever claims on mumsnet)

rabbitstew Mon 31-Dec-12 10:31:52

Maths is NOT superior at most private schools. When my db moved from the private sector to the state sector, what was noticeable was how behind he was in maths, but how far ahead in languages.

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