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How do we ensure all UK children regardless of back ground/ability receive high quality education?

(645 Posts)
happygardening Fri 10-May-13 10:20:54

Contrary to what some may think I'm not anti state ed and as someone who works with disadvantaged children it really matters to me that they receive a high quality broad education and they fulfil their potential. But sadly in many cases they are not (there are I know exceptions) frequently their parents cannot assist them for a variety of reasons.
Is there an answer to this problem or are they condemned by their circumstances which are not of their own making to remain at the bottom of the heap?
No judgey DM comments please.

CouthyMow Fri 17-May-13 16:24:11

How does it work if you are a parent to 'disadvantaged' children (on FSM's, disabled Lone Parent on benefits), and one is in the lowest 10% due to MLD and other SN's, and the other is in the highest 2%...

Where does my family for into the premise that 'disadvantaged' children are who make up the lowest 10%?

HKTekGuy Fri 17-May-13 10:05:06

".. in your system, where independents are nationalised ... how does that help those receiving poor quality education?".

It doesn't Andrew. If you can afford £15k to £20k pa per child times x years then chances are you won't be living anywhere near a deprived area (unless we are talking about London).

So these newly ex Private parents will either send their children to the nearby state school in their naice catchment or they will move to a house 5 feet from the school gate of some highly regarded state school. In either scenario you won't be seeing these kids at your local failing or disadvantaged school playground. There goes the argument that these pushier MC parents will help improve those schools.

But at least the increased taxes will help improve the lot of those receiving poor quality education, goes creamtea's argument. Well, as evidenced by past increase in NHS spending, a major chunk of new spending will go towards increasing pay for teachers. What is left will go towards more resources for schools that are failing their pupils. But how much are the problems caused by a lack of money? Various studies have concluded that some children underperform because of social problems, absent fathers, parents that don't value education, children than don't value education etc etc . The above can't be 'cured' by throwing more money at education. In anycase don't schools have a pupil premium to reflectt their situation?

And not let us forget the teachers. MN is full of threads complaining about state school teachers. I am not having a go at ALL teachers but surely people can accept that some of the problems are created by crap teachers and that you can throw more money at a school but those crap teachers will still be there?

Banning private schools will have a neglible effect on improving education for those receiving poor quality education but it makes for a good sound bite for the uninformed.

HKTekGuy Fri 17-May-13 09:23:51

To be honest, I thought that if I was going to get blowback it would for the 'middle class' bit rather than the 'SAHM' bit.

Creamtea - Labour ceased to be a true socialist party a lot time ago. So they aren't going to ban private schools for ideological reasons anytime soon. Besides, various Labour frontbenchers would have to send their kids to state schools if they got rid of private schools. That is how I know that it isn't going to happen.

Talkinpeace Thu 16-May-13 22:52:58

no I've not taught there - friends do though
it is by NO means perfect
and yes, low aspirations are a really hard problem to crack
but I'd be very sad if the school dissed high aspirations
and certainly grade predictions do not seem to be discussed outside clasrooms
DD has no idea at all how primary friends who are now in sets 2 and 3 are likely to do. None of her business and vice versa
each child is set personal targets

pickledsiblings Thu 16-May-13 22:45:10

Speaking to some girls in a lower set of our local Comp was eye-opening. They hated being in the same school with 'silly' girls who cried because they only got an A instead of an A* whilst they themselves were struggling to get a grade C. The struggle certainly wasn't helped by the fact that the boys in the class couldn't wait to leave school and didn't care what grade they got.

Talkinpeace, how well do you know your DD's school. Have you taught there? You seem delighted with it and indeed my neighbour was delighted with the school I'm talking about for her DD.

pofacedlemonsucker Thu 16-May-13 21:29:50

Ah, not me then. I thought we were all being accused of prioriting the top 10 % at the taxpayers expense. And I was largely moaning that high achievers who can't afford private are stuffed.

Hk, I'm at work now. You can ram it.

RussiansOnTheSpree Thu 16-May-13 21:26:03

cream sorry - who has made that assumption?in this thread? Because when that old trope staggers round you will usually find Yellow andI, among others, debunking it thoroughly! But I hadn't noticed it on this thread. I might have missed it though - been dipping in and out.

creamteas Thu 16-May-13 21:08:00

Has anybody actually given the impression that they think the most disadvantaged in society and the bottom 10% by IQ/academic ability/however you want to evaluate it are the same?

They have to me. The presumption that 'high achievers' parents are the ones paying for private schools is a bit of a giveaway.....

seeker Thu 16-May-13 21:06:53

The only person who has given that impression is backbeat- and as I said, she is best ignored.

RussiansOnTheSpree Thu 16-May-13 20:51:01

Has anybody actually given the impression that they think the most disadvantaged in society and the bottom 10% by IQ/academic ability/however you want to evaluate it are the same? Because I don't think I've seen anybody suggesting that. Certainly not those very few of us who have actually achieved significant upwards economic mobility as a result of our educations.

AndrewD Thu 16-May-13 20:46:09


I see your point - raise taxes to pay for the 615,000 extra state students. It opens up a much wider debate on socialism and liberty. Should I have the right to own a house, pay for private medical care and education and own a car (rather than use public transport) or should all such choices be removed and the state provide it all? On balance, I'm up for paying taxes to support society, but I want to retain the liberty and freedom to do as I please with my wealth.

However, even in your system, where independents are nationalised and each class would notionally get 1 extra pupil in it (defined with either bright and/or wealthy) - how does that help those receiving poor quality education? I still don't see how that action or any of its consequences improves the state system.

When I talk to teachers (some are relatives, some at my primary school and some at open days for secondary) they all seem to concur that education quality depends on:

- more funding
- smaller class sizes
- streaming by ability

None of them could give two hoots about the existence of private schools.

creamteas Thu 16-May-13 20:17:36

Banning private schools will increase the burden on state schools by 5-10% and achieve the exact opposite from a financial point of view

Why? If you nationalised them, they would not increase the burden on any state school. The buildings and teachers would still be there, and they might actually reduce the pressure on class-sizes in some areas by taking extra pupils.

creamteas Thu 16-May-13 20:13:44

but the additional educational resources allocated to many high achievers are private (parental) resources, not the resources of the public purse and therefore are not free to be reallocated

Clearly you are not seeing the bigger picture. The rich need to pay more in taxes grin

Banning segregated schools is one important step in reducing inequality, but a wider redistribution of wealth (and power) would be even better.

But at least you seem to agree that it is money not intelligence that gets the most educational resources at the minute

AndrewD Thu 16-May-13 20:08:31

Creamteas - the logical conclusion of your point seems to me to be invest more money in state schools and education. Banning private schools will increase the burden on state schools by 5-10% and achieve the exact opposite from a financial point of view.

Our local comprehensive primary and secondary schools have great teachers. They could always use more money, but they are really good at their jobs. The dreaded "value add" statistics are high. That's because they are teaching kids and improving their abilities. The fact that for every 30 kids they teach, 1 kid is not in their class but is shipped in a 4wheel drive to a private school make no difference to the teacher, their ability or the 30 kids.

For what it's worth, my two kids are at a state primary and I am completely open minded about secondary schools (comp/grammar/fee paying). It would be great if more funding was available so that everyone could feel the same about selective/fee paying schools rather than resenting the existence of something they can't afford.

I think gov't pays about £6000-10000 per year for a state school pupil. Why not cut a deal with all private schools insisting that they accept govt funded pupils for the same money on a equal basis (selective or otherwise) as any fee paying student?
The private schools would not like it but they need to protect their privileged tax status!

beatback Thu 16-May-13 19:58:21

Why do you misquote what i say, i never said you cant teach the bottom 20%. I have said you teach them relevant,subjects and life skills to their needs,and abilties. should we teach the bottom 20% latin ,classical greek, further maths,astronomy then . What a "HIGH NET WORTH" bridging loan as got to do about this i dont know. But since someone has brought it up, someone on 300kPA has themselves to blame, someone on 10kPA has been let down by Education. I have also said there needs to be oppurtunities,later in life for self improvnent. I bet you want me banned now because i have gone to far.

Bonsoir Thu 16-May-13 19:49:46

creamteas - but the additional educational resources allocated to many high achievers are private (parental) resources, not the resources of the public purse and therefore are not free to be reallocated.

creamteas Thu 16-May-13 19:47:00

I've never quite understood how banning private schools (or grammar schools) will "low achievers" (academically or professionally)

(Assuming you mean benefit low achievers). Currently we have an school system which is run on a class-based apartheid system. So a minority of wealthier children get a disproportional share of educational resources. This occurs even in the state sector as schools increasingly reply on fundraising for equipment etc.

It we did not segregate education in this way, then not only would there be more political will to invest properly in universally good education, but also the resources that are available there could be distributed more equally. If this happened those who are currently 'low achievers' should have a better chance of achieving their potential alongside their wealthier peers.

AndrewD Thu 16-May-13 19:46:15

Agreed. As I said wealth and intelligence don't go hand in hand and it's not just money/tutoring that passes tests.

<jumps into bunker with hard hat on>

FadedSapphire Thu 16-May-13 19:22:22

May be tutoring not just intelligence for those private schoolers Andrew?
Think I will refrain from commenting on some other parts of your post. Maybe after a glass of wine later!

AndrewD Thu 16-May-13 19:17:57

Random thought, following up on some previous posts

I've never quite understood how banning private schools (or grammar schools) will "low achievers" (academically or professionally).

Adding 10 private school kids to our local comp's 120+ year will not make the bottom quartile of that year better. It will mean that 10 other local kids that would have gone to the comp will have to travel further away to the next available comp and that the teachers will have an even more diverse range to teach - they have enough to do and have all told me that they are more effective with either able or less able kids but not both at the same time. At the open day I went to they agreed that having half a class of "bright kids" would make their jobs harder and not benefit anyone. (PS - whilst wealth and intelligence are not a rule, those private school kids took tests, so it's not just the money)

In addition, whilst I like the idea of people, communities and society staying in touch with each others lives it doesn't seem to happen in practice. At my local primary, the estate kids/parents stick together and the private householders/aspirational etc kids/parents stick together. It's all very friendly (mostly) but there's no "social integration" or "added social mobility" as a result. The fact that one kids Mum is a lawyer and the others is on benefits seems to do nothing to close the economic divide or stitch together the supposedly widening class gaps. (By the way, how does the Mum on benefits in a council flat afford iPhone and the BMW drive to school everyday?).

I do think that a centralised system for identifying gifted and talented kids would be useful that then automatically applied for fee assistance (if no grammar or suitable school is available) would be good.

losingtrust Thu 16-May-13 19:15:17

Education is about the long-term good not just about 16, 18 or 21.

losingtrust Thu 16-May-13 19:13:53

I would just add from an employer's point of view with a real mix of employees that it would appear to be the less academic that are losing out most in state education or certainly over the last few years as they are trying to fit them into this formula for success when really trying to teach more employability to kids would really help. We have graduates who seem to think their qualifications are all they need who cannot spell and others who only reach their potential when they come into work and realise that they have great business brains despite failing in academic subjects in school. Keeping children in a comp is very grounding for top achieving kids who see other kids who are great at woodwork beating them every time. It is not lowering the aspirations of children but to be honest we have some very academic trainees who cannot cope with the stress of the work because everything came so easily at school.

happygardening Thu 16-May-13 19:06:29

I'm actually quite shocked that many on MN imply/state/think that the most disadvantaged and the bottom 10% are one and the same. This after all not a DM forum.

losingtrust Thu 16-May-13 19:06:06

Sorry Seeker been at work all day so catching up with this interesting thread. Nobody is going to reach consensus on here.

losingtrust Thu 16-May-13 18:56:04

It is a shame though the this country seems destined to fail to produce future great business people because schools now are so hung up on the magical five GCSEs.

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