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Education superclass?

(819 Posts)
Amber2 Wed 13-Nov-13 10:49:10

This is interesting coming from John Major ...sounds like more lobbying along the lines of the Sutton Trust but do people really think it's much worse than it ever has been..? and this is do with with the inexorable rise of London...and the global money flowing in there...and so to creating an elite superclass of private schools also ...not just any old private school but a small handful of elite ones, applications to which have reached record numbers, presumably more and more from London and from overseas with over inflation rises in fees pricing out the traditional middle classes that used to be able to afford these schools.

Amber2 Wed 13-Nov-13 10:58:36

In case the link does not work, here's the relevant bit extracted ...from blog in Daily Telegraph commenting on John Major's views decrying increasing lack of social mobility:

"The rise of a new superclass is best observed in London. The capital is pulling away from the rest of the UK, as it becomes a city state and a potential world capital. To match this development, the superclass I mentioned is being created in large part by the best private schools in London. Professionals – from here and abroad – who are the beneficiaries of the tidal wave of hot money flowing through the City, law, accountancy, property and so on, pay extraordinary sums for schools that are now so very far ahead of the standard state school or even excellent academy in terms of resources, facilities and influence. The families that can afford these top schools have also benefited hugely from the 20-year London property boom. Their offspring are fanning out in their thousands from great schools into the best universities. When they emerge – confident, international, multilingual, with several unpaid internships on their CV – they are particularly attractive to employers in those same industries where their parents made a pile: law, banking, accountancy. Advantage is being entrenched, which is bound to be reflected in public life and politics in the coming decades."

soul2000 Wed 13-Nov-13 11:26:26

Well said Amber2. I made a similar comment last night on the Independent School thread and was told to be careful. The country is being ripped apart by the growth of London. The staggering difference from London and even supposed relatively affluent areas outside the M25/M4 corridor is appalling.
Hs2 is the biggest con trick on the North and the rest of the country, and is designed to benefit London. The country is very soon going to become London and a few mainly Footballers living outside London who can actually afford a good life. The traditional idea of middle class life has gone for all but the top 2-3% of the population and will in a short space of time be down to the top 1%. The rest of the country outside the Dormitory towns that supply London are in for a future of terminal decline. London has contributed massively to huge social disadvantages for the rest of the country. Other countries in Europe have not let one City dominate the whole of the nation like the UK has. Everything is London, the rest of the country gets thrown scraps like a dog waiting under the table on Sunday.

Amber2 Wed 13-Nov-13 11:38:31

I think it is even smaller than 1% soul2000, when you take into account how many of the global elite there are in London...with children applying to top schools..the non-dom status (was Gordon Brown who encouraged that methinks), lucrative property market, safe place to park your millions (or billions), and fact that London is a super-financial hub has drawn them to it ...their children could fill Eton, Winchester, Westminster, St Paul's etc. many times over - there are London super-tutors catering to them in case they need support getting into these schools (or keeping up when there), hence I suspect the meteoric rise in applications to and fees of these schools to the cost of perhaps more middle class children of salaried professionals like GPs etc. Definition of "middle class" as far as these schools go, in London now may children of a City law firm partner earning at least 600k to a million a year perhaps?

NoComet Wed 13-Nov-13 11:50:40

Unpaid internships should simply be illegal.
No one should be allowed to do more than a weeks works experience unpaid.
That goes for would be vets and medics too, one night a week, might count as an extra curricular activity like being a young leader at Brownies, but weeks on end in the school holidays need to be paid or it's massively unfair on DC who have to take waitressing jobs etc. to survive.

happygardening Wed 13-Nov-13 11:55:07

"a potential world capital."
if you open any human geography text book or any text book about urbanisation all will tell you London isn't a potential world capital it is a world capital actually the correct term is global city of which there are only 3-4.

happygardening Wed 13-Nov-13 12:07:28

"Other countries in Europe have not let one City dominate the whole of the nation like the UK has."
I dont wish to be pedantic here but you just happened to have crossed over into something I know a lot about! France for example had the same problem see Paris and the French Dessert byJean-François Gravier. There are also around the world 30 top world cities lacking the international elitism of NY and London but not far behind.
As any one who studies urbanisation will tell you this frankly is old news London was already Europe's leading city before the industrial revolution.

Bonsoir Wed 13-Nov-13 12:18:23

Yes, it's much worse than it's ever been. The children of the global élite have access to a type of education that is unthinkable - unimaginable - for the vast majority of the population. The experiences afforded by money and by access to the powerful, wealthy, connected and intelligent global élite develop young minds in ways that state school never can.

Bonsoir Wed 13-Nov-13 12:20:10

IME teachers in some of the best schools do not themselves grasp the understanding and exposure of their pupils. That is why tutor agencies and other forms of high-octane shadow education are a booming sector.

Amber2 Wed 13-Nov-13 12:42:35

I am told there is a big difference in France, HG, as some of the elite private schools are heavily subsidised by the government .. a friend of mine who is very well off has children who are super bright but also heavily tutored to get in to one of the top elite Parisian senior schools ...alongside children of politicians and multi- millionaires ...and he pays no more than a cheaper country prep would cost here (with no scholarship or bursary) ......the rest I understand appear to be subsidized by the state (not based on income or anything) - Bonsoir correct me if I am wrong- ...even Eton head says he acknowledges fees are now out of reach for the types of professional middle classes who might have afforded them in his day. Another friend sends his children to an private French faith school - also subsidized by the state so he pays only about 1k a term. So options for private are more accessible. Also France's new regime and taxes make it less attractive right now for really high earners...that's why Cameron said the super-rich in France are welcome here.. London is also much more of a financial super-hub that cities like Paris albeit Paris of course has its elite education system and a hierarchy in the workplace that reflects it.

Bonsoir Wed 13-Nov-13 12:46:34

Paris is not (currently) a major global city on a par with London.

All private schools are state-subsidised in France (schools that are not are not worth attending, unless they are international schools - but they do not attract French people) and cheap as chips compared to English independent schools.

Mominatrix Wed 13-Nov-13 12:57:07

I agree with the commentary, however I am not certain why it is such a problem. The children at these "super elite" schools in London are indeed international, and as such, their futures will probably not be in the local English/UK economy but in that global sphere. As such, are they entrenching privilege in this country or being bred to be the ruling class here? Not really. They are being educated to work and move in an international sphere, something I think is extremely important for the parents of the students attending those sorts of schools and which I think more schools need to start thinking of doing.

Bonsoir Wed 13-Nov-13 13:02:52

I think it is a problem because it creates a cadre of people whose experience of the world is wildly greater than the vast majority. That cadre will be best placed, because of its superior knowledge and network, to grab power, money and control of the economy and politics everywhere, without having much connection, if any, with the vast majority.

I plead guilty to being part of that cadre and to educating my DC in it. I don't like it but I have no choice.

Mominatrix Wed 13-Nov-13 13:13:36

True, Bonsoir, but this is not new. DH is an alumnus of an undergraduate and business school which is internationally known, although located in the US. His experience, particularly at business school, is that the diaspora of alumni from this school are in positions of power in politics and business in every corner of the world. Even my uncle from an East Asian country was sponsored and sent to that business school in the 1970s as he was targeted as potential bright light, and he was in both international politics and the business world back in that country after graduation. What I see going on in London is just an extension of this.

What to do as internationally minded parents who want to best prepare our children for that world? Do exactly what we are doing.

Bonsoir Wed 13-Nov-13 13:21:26

I agree it's not new but I think that the educational gulf is widening and not because the "mass" of the population is getting a dumbed down education but because the global élite are getting much more educated. I also attended an international business school with a huge diaspora of alumni all over the world. Our DC are all far more advanced than we were at the same age - where we spoke two languages at 13, they speak four. Where we learned two sports, they can ski, sail, wakeboard, play competitive tennis and spend weeks in camp every summer with other global élite offspring...

Amber2 Wed 13-Nov-13 13:27:57


But London is the UK economy mostly - It will matter if your child wants to get into a UCL for uni or a London bank or law firm or a media co....or any plum graduate entry job in London in a multinational for that matter. ...


My professional class French friends say...they see nothing wrong at all with the fact that private schools are subsidized by the state to make them more affordable to middle classes (this I understood includes elite ones that are accessed by fiercely competitive entrance exams which send many children to the best French Grandes Ecoles though not the "international" schools) is only here where there is such huge private v state way of thinking and where people lobby for private schools to lose their charitable status, or its superselective grammar vs comp, where it has become so polarised.

Bonsoir Wed 13-Nov-13 13:31:45

Amber2 - I think that, conceptually, the French model of private education is a lot less élitist than the British model and means that, as you say, normal-income parents can send their DC to private schools (providing they meet the selection criteria, which are not always particularly rigorous).

However, French education fails to keep pace with international standards and French DC in the most élite secondary schools are applying to UCAS in their droves. That is in large part because of policies designed to prevent education from serving the potential of the cleverest.

Mominatrix Wed 13-Nov-13 13:38:50

Bonsoir, I do see what you are saying, but the world they are stepping into is also very different - more globally integrated. However, in terms of the extracurriculars, that level of diversity and competition was the norm growing up as admission to Ivys/top Liberal Arts colleges in the US require the candidate to have both depth and breath in their extracurricular activities. Perhaps the increasing popularity of top US colleges is spurring this?

Amber, we have no interest in sending our sons to university in the UK, and are planning on US colleges - this is a very popular goal amongst their peers, and targeting these schools is becoming more of a focus for the London day schools. If they comply, and where they end up after? Who knows.

Amber2 Wed 13-Nov-13 13:40:21

Bonsoir - is this true even for those going to the Grandes Ecoles?

Amber2 Wed 13-Nov-13 13:45:22


I agree with you...the US may be a better bet and certainly better than a second rate course at a second rate UK uni, for future job prospects, I would think...good for teenagers to think of a global market place when honing their skillset and planning careers.

Amber2 Wed 13-Nov-13 13:52:50

what i am finding puzzling though, many senior schools put on their websites the destinations of sixth formers to Oxbridge/ RG uni and courses in the UK but hard to find how many go and where they go and what courses, of those who go to the US, despite the increased interest. Take Wellington College, for example, there is a lot of promotion of how many go to the US and how they have special support for Ivy League applications etc. ...but exactly how many go and where they go, is very hard to find on their website ...perhaps I am not looking in the right place. To me that is very pertinent info these days.

camilamoran Wed 13-Nov-13 13:54:23

Has it ever really been the case that Eton and Westminster were accessible to ordinary middle class families? (Honest question - looking forward to evidence).

camilamoran Wed 13-Nov-13 14:09:56

Also - if top private schools in London are now catering mostly to an international elite - surely their fees are actually too low. Would it not make sense for them to put their fees up and start paying us tax?

Mominatrix Wed 13-Nov-13 14:12:26

Amber, I think that the increase in interest has been relatively recent, and perhaps their websites are lagging the trend. The major London schools do have more detailed information available, and hopefully other schools will also follow suit.

Bonsoir Wed 13-Nov-13 14:13:10

Amber2 - yes. And DP and I have excellent first-hand information on this as I coach French UCAS candidates and he is on the admissions panel of a major grande ecole and we are very well-informed by our networks.

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