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Who is being unreasonable here regarding school fees?

(84 Posts)
Scitteryscattery Wed 23-Oct-13 23:39:38

Friend A and friend B both send their DDs to the same private school. Both receive a bursary though A gets a larger amount than B. B scrimps and saves. A does as well and must be on a lower income to receive a higher bursary but does sometimes appear to be a little less careful and to have more cash floating around I think she gets into debt quite a lot too

I've just had friend B around this afternoon incandescent with rage as A has been telling her all about her holiday plans this year which consist of a 3 week trip to Japan. Now her DH sometimes has to travel there for work but on this occasion A and the 2 DCs are also going. I understand that work will pay for his airfare and hotel room for the 2 weeks he is working but not the other 3 fares nor the extra week. The grandparents are helping out however.

B tells me that the school have a bursary policy which states that expensive holidays are incompatible with a bursary. Apparently they also consider if other family members are in a position to help with fees though how they work that one out I'm not sure. She is considering reporting them to the school. shock

I have tried to suggest that she doesn't really know A's financial circumstances, that the school may not care anyway even if they do know and that there isn't much point in reporting anyway as the school are bound to find out - they can hardly get their DD to pretend she was on holiday for 3 weeks in a tent in Skegness. B feels the school will take more note if someone complains. Worse still, I've pointed out that the school might actually take it really seriously and stop the bursary. In which case, how will B feel if A can no longer afford to be there? Either way its likely to be the end of their friendship.

I feel a bit stuck in the middle and glad the DCs are still pre-school. Who is being unreasonable here, A or B? I suspect that when B calms down she is unlikely to report A but it has occurred to me someone else might. I am not too aware of how private schools operate anyway and how seriously this would be taken. A can be a bit avoidant about money issues and may have ignored the fact this could cause her problems. Should I tentatively ask A about the bursary policy when she next mentions the holiday to me?

Norudeshitrequired Sat 26-Oct-13 08:35:15

Teaching them yourself by getting resources from free places such as the library?
Getting a family member who is capable to give some tuition for free?
Taking the school to task about areas of deficiency and involving the board of governors if necessary.
You can't do those things for all children, you can only do them for your own children. So the argument about parents / guardians who aren't interested is a non-starter.
My parents were not able to help me at school because they are illiterate and the school I attended was in the bottom 10%, but I still got decent GCSE's because I practically taught myself. I was hardly ever in lessons at school because they were pointless but I taught myself at home with library books. Motivated children and parents can do this that cost nothing.

They wouldn't be able to give additional points to students at so called 'below average schools' because it is immoral and wrong to do so. How would you decide which children deserve extra points? How would they cope at university when they have been handed extra points which suggests that they are more able and have learnt more than they actually have?
Any decent university would be wise to these extra given points and wouldn't take children from those schools, so parents from other schools wouldn't be clamouring to send their children there at all.
What you suggest is impractical, unworkable and quite ridiculous.

Erebus Sat 26-Oct-13 11:54:49

"Surely we should be looking at why the privates get such good results and not have such low expectations of some state schools. Lets fix them first."

Privates get good results because they select. In- and out.

Did you know that?

It's quite an easy concept.

Sorry I'm being so patronising but I CANNOT BELIEVE that there are people who don't get that. I just don't.

If every comp in the country could kick out its less clever, its disruptive, its disaffected, its SEN- guess what?

I think you know what.

However, the state has a responsibility for all DC, not just those of the rich and motivated, as it serves the needs of the entire country, and its future for that to be the case.

Norudeshitrequired Sat 26-Oct-13 11:59:54

the local comprehensive state does not take responsibility for ALL children and I wish people would stop stating that they do.
we have special schools, PRUs and in extreme cases specialist boarding units for severe behavioural problem children. A child with very severe learning disability or very severe behavioural issues cannot attend the local comp - they do not take ALL children. They do kick out the most disruptive (its called permanent exclusion).T
There is a clause in the education act enabling all state schools to refuse a child a place if that child is likely to cause disruption to the education of the other children.
The state does cater for all children, but not necessarily at the local comp.

Erebus Sat 26-Oct-13 12:15:29


Hugo goes to St Bigmoney's. He's quite lazy, of average intelligence, but passed an entrance exam and he's been checked for SEN, behaviour, attitude and so forth via interview with both him and his professional parents, themselves both privately educated and in-the-know and an extensive report from his Prep school headmaster. There are 15 DCs in every class at this school which costs his parents £11000 a year. There no misbehaviour, and everyone is of a similar ability so the teacher barely has to differentiate between different learning styles at all. He gets set at least an hour's homework a night which gets checked and remarked upon each time. He has learned good and early that he has a squadron of adults on his case. Where he struggles, his parents are up at the school to get it sorted; he's given extra tuition either at school or separately out of school. His every academic move is monitored, tweaked, directed. His exam technique is honed to within an inch of its life. As a result of this forensic interest in him, Hugo gets 10 GCSEs. His 'innate' intelligence would have gotten him 'C's but he's been 'managed' to some 'B's; let's say 2 As, 5 Bs, 3 Cs.

Tyler goes to the local comp, Chuckemins. He's of above average intelligence. His single mum works 2 jobs to make ends meet. She left school at 16 with practically nothing. Chuckemins is in a socially deprived area. He sits in classes with 29 other DC, many of whom struggle with English, with behaviour, with attitude, with attendance. The teacher does her best to help him but spends a fair bit of her time 'fire-fighting'. Tyler tries his best, always does his homework (though some slips through the marking net), watches 'educational' TV when he can, reads, but as for 1:1 guidance, there's not the time, money, education, insider-knowledge or will to provide it. He does what he can, with the bit of additional support his teacher can find time for, and stumbles up to his GCSEs and actually does quite well, very much against the odds, he gets 1 A, 5 Bs, 4 Cs

There's one place at the good local 6th form college.

Who should it go to? Who is more likely, given their track record, to be 'a success'?

Norudeshitrequired Sat 26-Oct-13 13:08:36

Your examples are not representative though, because Tyler is of above average intelligence and will therefore be in the higher sets and learning with children of similar ability to himself. Most comps do set and mark homework and hand out punishments if it isn't completed.

A lot of what you put in your argument is related to parental apathy / inability and regardless of a schools cohort you will never be able to change those things. Do you really think that having a lot of middle class children taken from the local private school and put in Tyler's school is going to change his home life and his parents ability to assist him?

To be honest your opinion seems to me that working class and attendance at the local comp = poor behaviour! attitude and attendance. Your attitude takes no account of people being individuals and having the ability to do well for themselves. Your comments also insinuate that all private schools are good and all comps are poor. There are many many comps that are good and some private schools that are poor.
There are many supportive and engaged parents of children in comprehensives. There are many parents of children in private schools who didn't do well themselves at school and are not very academic.

Not all parents who choose private schools do so purely for academic results, there are many other reasons.

I think you are making too many negative assumptions about state schools. I (as already stated) went to a bottom 10% state school where a C grade pass was seen as outstanding by the teachers. My parents were illiterate and couldn't help me. I still got into an RG university on a course that had 2000 applications for 50 places. How do you explain that based on your fictional examples?

Erebus Sat 26-Oct-13 13:45:44

But it's not impossible to extrapolate that a DC is a poorly performing comp could well do worse than if he were in a high performing private, is it?

It's possible to put some numerical values onto things like: FSM, value adding, indicators of social deprivation present in a school, local house prices etc. It might not be easy to do so (but also just might be easier than we think!- If the will to do so was there).

My 'example' was made tio illustrate a potential situation, engineered to make clear the differences between the 2 DSs lives. Most DC will fall somewhere between them.

My own DSs comp wouldn't get any leeway for poor results as it's leafy, MC, low FSM etc.. I'd have no problem with a DS like Tyler being extra 'brownie points' for his results, gained as they were against a difficult background. He'd be an asset to a FE institution, and a future employer, wouldn't he? Bright, motivated. I don't think my ability to get my DSs into a great comp should allow my DSs glittering prizes over and above other DC if other DC warrant the prizes more. That's more fair and equitable, isn't it?

As for 'No parent would move their DC into a lower performing school just because they might get more leniency with their results!'- A good friend of mine is doing just that- out of a £13000 secondary and into a state sixth form. There's been a lot of discussion at the private school of the possibility that top unis might be required to have quotas for private versus state DCs.

RedWineAndCheese Sat 26-Oct-13 13:49:30

Both of them deserve to have their bursaries revoked for revealing the amounts they receive, both to each other and to you.

Every bursary situation I have come across makes confidentiality an absolute requirement.

Erebus Sat 26-Oct-13 13:51:25

"Do you really think that having a lot of middle class children taken from the local private school and put in Tyler's school is going to change his home life and his parents ability to assist him?"- well, yes I do, actually. It's called critical mass. If Tyler's teacher had more school-ready DC in her class, and few C with issues, she'd have more time to teach Tyler and the rest - bear in mind Tyler already did quite well despite his background, though I didn't say his mum didn't care or was apathetic, just she was too busy working and did not have the education herself to help him. His 'home life' isn't necessarily dysfunctional or neglectful, any more than the lives of working class children's were when grammars first came along. Those DC's parents would largely have been completely educationally out of their depth with a GS curriculum but they valued education and supported their DC studies so those DC did well.

Talkinpeace Sat 26-Oct-13 15:28:56

The thing with private schools is that nobody actually knows anybody else's financial arrangements.
Many families are blissfully aware of their own arrangements.

At primary school I was the only child of a single parent in the school (as such things were v v rare then) and we lived in a crappy cold flat, she worked full time and I had a latch key.
My fee cheques were coming from elsewhere in the family.
If predictions had been made about my outcomes based on observation of my home they would have utterly missed the wider picture of my background.

Do not judge books by their covers.

Especially the results at selective schools wink

Norudeshitrequired Sat 26-Oct-13 17:04:07

Erebus - what about children at poorly performing private schools; should they be given extra points too or are they less deserving than a child at a poorly performing state school?
You seem to be missing the point that there are poor schools in both sectors and good schools in both sectors.

Talkinpeace Sat 26-Oct-13 17:14:49

what about children at poorly performing private schools
Private school is a luxury, if parents are daft enough to keep paying for a substandard product, more fool them.
My parents hit the roof when they realised how much of what my school had been telling them was lies.
The Head departed not long after.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sat 26-Oct-13 18:37:26

The problem for the Tylers of the education system is that they are failed all ways round. They will not get the advice they need to make good choices at GCSE, parents with lower educational achievements themselves may not be able to see the longer term benefits of core subjects. How many Tylers find themselves on BTEC courses because their family is pushing them to get an apprenticeship and get into a trade?

If your children are at a poor private school then you have the free choice to take them out and move them somewhere else.

If your children are at a poor state school then moving them is more than likely not an option.

Tyler would probably be a huge asset to any school and would make full use of a bursary which allowed him to attend St Bigmoney's. Problem is that Tyler's mum knows nothing of bursaries and no one at Chuckemins is going to suggest an application is made as Tyler is a pleasure to teach.

Norudeshitrequired Sat 26-Oct-13 18:42:19

And what if they cannot move the children as all the comps locally are full and there are no other independents available within commuting distance or space within the appropriate year groups?
Moving schools isn't always as easy as 'Im not happy with the current school so I'll see what good ones are available nearby and choose the best'.
Whether the child is currently at private or state then moving to a good state school is not easy in most areas.
No one is arguing that private schooling is anything but a luxury, but your arguments are all biased and don't take into account the fact that there are good and poor schools in both sectors and that moving isn't always easy.

ithaka Sat 26-Oct-13 18:51:51

Because under the law as it stands, you cannot just relinquish charitable status

A bit factually misleading, this. You can be reclassified by the Office of National Statistics and then could continue to operate as a business, without the tax perks.

Talkinpeace Sat 26-Oct-13 20:26:14

My crammer charged VAT on the fees ....

NonnoMum Sat 26-Oct-13 20:33:30

I'm with rootypig

scarevola Sat 26-Oct-13 20:42:03

ONS surely has no role? They gather and publish data, and have no other executive function.

It's all down to the Charity Commission, and they publish the rules about winding up a charity.

Talkinpeace Sat 26-Oct-13 20:44:35

Winding up Charities is an effing nightmare : I'm involved with some dormant ones at the moment and getting the assets transferred is turning the rest of my hair grey
breaking covenants on educational buildings costs an utter fortune

the CC can threaten deregistration, not sure where or how the ONS would get involved.
Companies house maybe as many have subsidiary companies

Erebus Sat 26-Oct-13 21:27:36

Q: "Erebus - what about children at poorly performing private schools; should they be given extra points too or are they less deserving than a child at a poorly performing state school?"

Sorry, sympathy fail. If you have the ability to exercise choice as many absolutely do not, you live by your choices. The moment you step beyond yer local comp, you have assumed the mantle of responsibility, thus live with the outcome. If your daft enough to carry on paying fees to a rubbish private, your DC will be burdened with the consequences, as you have made an active choice. Which is different from having no choice and, in addition, possible not having the wherewithal, knowledge, education and so on the make any changes if the 'local comp' (or SM) isn't performing at all.

Norudeshitrequired Sat 26-Oct-13 22:28:30

Erebus - your attitude is precisely why some of the parents who can afford private education don't give two hoots about the standard of state education. There is as much snobbery as there is reverse snobbery. A real sense of 'I don't care about anyone who has more / less opportunity than myself'.

Norudeshitrequired Sat 26-Oct-13 22:31:01

And even people without the choice of private education often have some choice - home education, a longer school commute, move house, take grievances to the governors / the LA.

Erebus Sat 26-Oct-13 22:43:35

Which attitude? That if you're mug enough to pay for rubbish service you're your own worst enemy?

Is that 'attitude' the one that drives parents into the arms of private education? confused

You might need to explain a bit more.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sat 26-Oct-13 23:03:50

Norudeshitrequired I disagree that there is choice in the state system. There is none where I live. We have the choice of one school (in the bottom 20 in England). The school has been academied so the LA is no use. We complained to the school about various issues with minimal results.

Anyway this isnt about complaining that there isnt enough maths homework. The school is a dismal failure.

So the choices available to me are to home educate (where will I fit that chemistry lab?) or move house. Both of which are expensive solutions.

Norudeshitrequired Sun 27-Oct-13 09:25:55

'Which attitude? That if you're mug enough to pay for rubbish service you're your own worst enemy?'

The attitude that some kids should be given extra marks because they are poor and attend poor schools and are therefore more deserving for the marking system to be extra lenient and that kids whose parents have gone private (perhaps having little choice) deserve no leniency despite how poor their school might have been.
Are you aware that lots of service families use the private education system? They might not be wealthy and might not be paying very much towards their children's education, they might also prefer to use the state system as it might have better schools, but they might be using the private school because their time spent abroad for work purposes means their children have to board at school - they don't have a choice.
Some People in both sectors have limited choices. Obviously most people in private schools do have more choice and most will do something about it if they are not satisfied as people are not generally that thick to continue paying for something that is substandard.

But as you originally argued about your children's school being poor and you thinking that they deserve to be given extra points - it's still very laughable and unrealistic and no credible university would be jumping through hoops to enrol children coming forms schools that give extra points because the university would realise that a grade A from that school is really only a C.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sun 27-Oct-13 14:16:00

I would be interested to know just how many forces families are forced to send their children to sub-standard private schools. Surely one of the points about boarding is that then it doesnt matter so much exactly where the school is.

Anyway, all quite irrelevant for my DCs. I checked the league tables to see how many of the schools below my DCs are private. Dont worry, it didnt take long because it is an exceptionally small number of schools which have managed to be even more crap than my DCs'.

Funnily enough none are private. So I still claim points for my DCs.

Why is it laughable that my DCs should get some sort of assistance from an educational system which allows my DCs to struggle in such a poor school?

There just needs to be better recognition that a string of A grades from a selective school is only to be expected and anything less is an under-performance by student or school.

A student from a poor school achieving a handful of reasonable grades perhaps in non-standard subjects (btecs and the like) may well have had to struggle against a background of little support or advice from from school and home.

That student should not be rejected by universities at the first cut for not fitting in with the normal exam progression.

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