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We haven't had a state vs private debate for a while! What did you think of the Fiona Millar programme on schools?

(529 Posts)
WideWebWitch Fri 05-Mar-04 20:27:06


emkaren Fri 05-Mar-04 20:29:15

I just thought this moment how annoyed I am because I missed it! Will there be any chance to see it again? Did anybody record the programme? What was it like?

alibubbles Fri 05-Mar-04 20:33:20

We were having dinner, I've recorded it, I hope!

ks Fri 05-Mar-04 20:35:35

Message withdrawn

miggy Fri 05-Mar-04 20:51:20

Might get flamed for this but DH said at the end, as she was doing her bit to the camera, "is this a party political broadcast for the concentious party" which just about summed it up really
Agreed with lots of things she said BUT not exactly objective reporting was it?

WideWebWitch Fri 05-Mar-04 21:53:15

Emkaren, it was good but she was preaching to the converted here really.

There was a v. irritating woman crying (not sure why but suspect she was put in for us to sneer at) as she admitted that she'd started attending church a bit before her children (who she described as her crown jewels, snort) needed to start school. Hmm, you did have to wonder whether her need to practise her 'faith' would have been quite as pressing if she hadn't had children. I was interested that Bristol was singled out as an example of choice in education gone hideously wrong - something like 1 in 4 pupils here is educated privately and the state sector has suffered enormously as a result.

Miggy, no, it wasn't objective but to be fair I don't think she was pretending to be.

OldieMum Fri 05-Mar-04 22:00:01

I watched, expecting to find it preachy and patronising (as described by Catherine Bennett in yesterday's paper), but it was actually rather good. She set out clearly the way in which there is a collective action problem in which state schools suffer when middle-class parents send their children to private schools, while many more middle-class parents would send their children to state schools if sufficient numbers of them did so.

Twink Fri 05-Mar-04 22:52:08

Well I'll stick my head up above the parapet and say I thought it was appalling !

Regardless of my politics, which I don't hide but tend not to advertise here, I thought it was a completely self-serving 'look at me, I'm helping by putting my kids through our local state schools, which as it happens aren't so bad anyway'

Lots of comments about league tables & OFSTEAD and while I know you don't always follow your partner's view on things, both Ms Millar & her partner have been very involved in current goverment thinking, which still push these things.

I hope this is the start of a decent debate !

hercules Fri 05-Mar-04 23:00:32

I havent heard about the programme so cant comment on it.
We had dss name down for private school but he got in to a good state so sent him there instead.
If not we'd have gone the private route for sure.
I teach in a state school and woulnt want to teach in a private one.
Yes, I'm a hypocrite and I do think i'm in the wrong but I want the best for my kids and dont want to chance their education.
going to bed now.

Twink Fri 05-Mar-04 23:23:01

Can Diane Abbott's decision to send her child out of the system really be held that responsible for the lack of improvement in Hackney schools ?

Ex chief inspector of schools (if I remember rightly) agreeing that as things stand he won't have put his own children into the system..

Please don't get me wrong, I'd love state education/medical care/social services to work in the way they were originally intended to but as things are at the moment they don't.

Dh and I are 'old' labour to our cores (ok will admit it !) but our local education authority has left us speechless (almost)

Off to bed before I get too carried away.

ScummyMummy Sat 06-Mar-04 00:53:28

Bollocks. Missed it. I imagine I'd have agreed broadly but I do sometimes think all this "state schools need middle class kids stuff" is a bit patronising, tbh. Some schools are doing great with practically no middle class contingent, after all. Anyone video it?

tigermoth Sat 06-Mar-04 07:16:21

oh goody goody, a private v state school v church school discussion just in time for my birthday

bossykate Sat 06-Mar-04 07:16:23

if you've seen her articles in the guardian/observer then there was nothing new in the program except a conscious attempt to sneer at "pushy" middle class parents using non bog standard state education - not all of which is private btw (boo! hiss! the bad guys! the pantomime villains!). the other parents were treated with kid gloves by comparison. camden schools are pretty good, so imo, making a big deal out of the fact your kids go there is typical of the hypocrisy surrounding this issue. imo&e, it is a false hypothesis to claim there is a middle class flight from state schools - where state schools have a good reputation the middle classes are falling over themselves to get in. i thought at the heart of the program was a rather (old labour?) hypothesis that the obligation of parents and children was to schools not the other way round. if fiona get get her mate tony to make improvements, then the problem will be solved.

one last thing - for now. for anyone shocked by the number of lambeth parents taking their kids out of borough, actually a part of that is because there aren't enough places in lambeth state schools for everyone who wants to go! fiona and her editorial team must have "forgotten" to put that in, since it doesn't fit the hypothesis.

bossykate Sat 06-Mar-04 07:17:06

happy birthday, tigermoth¬

roisin Sat 06-Mar-04 08:30:30

I just didn't get the argument about grammar schools. Of course if grammar schools select on the basis of achievement, then you can't compare the academic results of the grammar and the comprehensive ... but isn't it better for the children to be in a school that's catering for their academic needs, whatever they are? Sure it's tricky for those who are borderline, but that's life ... if you are borderline but fail your degree/A levels/driving test then you have to take the consequences.

I think it is important that primary schools should play a big role in preparing children from grammar schools, and therefore making sure everyone gets the opportunity. ... Dh has a valid complaint - he lived in an area with a few grammar schools, but all some distance away (5-10 miles). He was the brightest child at primary school, but just wasn't entered for grammar school, because it was not in the culture/experience of his family, and they couldn't afford to pay for transport and uniform. Obviously these sorts of problems ahve to be actively fought against to ensure fair access for all.

We don't have a grammar school here, so it's not an issue for us ... unfortunately!

WideWebWitch Sat 06-Mar-04 09:03:25

No bk, I agree, she wasn't saying anything she hasn't already said. That doesn't mean it isn't worth saying though does it? True too that if you live near a good state school in Camden it's easier to stick to your principles. Still, I thought a lot of the points she made were valid ones, sneering or not (and I would have sneered at the crying, newly church attending woman wherever she popped up tbh). No, Diane Abbott's decision to send her child out of the system can't really be held responsible for the lack of improvement in Hackney schools Twink but it won't have helped will it? I take the point that schools should have a responsibility to parents and children rather than the other way round though, but I think if you're not part of a system you are unlikely to care about it. So if you send your child to a private school you are highly unlikely to care if the local state school gets worse and worse. I doubt you're going to go to PTA meetings or volunteer to become a governor tbh. So Diane Abbott won't be on the board of governors at her local school and neither will she make a big and loud fuss about the state of her local schools will she? (perfectly willing to be proven wrong on this) She doesn't care because she can afford to opt out and go elsewhere. And so the vicious circle of lack of interest in state education begins does it not? And is it fair that if you can afford to pay for education you get a better one? Not that I'm convinced actually that private = better. Presumably people think it does though or they wouldn't pay.

I agree, if the govt sorted out state schools problem solved. Getting rid of private schools would also help. And faith schools partly funded by taxes but administered and controlled by the church. I really don't think they should have any say in who can attend. I wonder what would happen in that system? <I'm ducking now! Ooh, did I say that?>

WideWebWitch Sat 06-Mar-04 09:03:46

Happy Birthday Tigermoth

bossykate Sat 06-Mar-04 09:10:07

the argument that church schools should be open to those of any faith is another example of the hyprocrisy i mentioned earlier. it's just sour grapes, isn't it?

"i don't want to make the commitment to a faith, i don't want to bring my child up in a faith, i'd like to keep my guardian reading sneers at christianity and the like - but oh, btw, i want to whine it's not fair when my child can't get into the faith schools which are better".

i've got more time for people who say that state support for faith schools should be abolished. that argument at least has some logical consistentcy and integrity.

bossykate Sat 06-Mar-04 09:10:37

consistency even.

bossykate Sat 06-Mar-04 09:13:49

sil and bil know fiona and alistair. i must ask them if she comes over as so patronisingly awful irl.

fisil Sat 06-Mar-04 09:15:44

I only saw the last 10 minutes, and really agreed with the point about it being the parents that make a child's education. I think the parents sending their children to Queen's Park were both brave and right. P'd off that I didn't see the rest (I usually assume that there's nothing good on before 9!)

bossykate Sat 06-Mar-04 09:17:02

and her articles in the observer or wherever were utterly pants! really badly written.

i actually think this debate is a very worthwhile one... i think the programme attempted to raise valid issues about education today.

i just thought fiona's "i'm all right, jack" attitude - yes, hers, not the caring parents she ridiculed - probably alienated the very people she wants to get back into the state system!


twiglett Sat 06-Mar-04 09:18:02

message withdrawn

bossykate Sat 06-Mar-04 09:22:50

but twiglett, surely the point is that the "best" education in the area - as you put it - should not be limited to faith schools... so non-believers, christians, jews, muslims, zoroastrians etc could *all* get the best... just opening the doors a bit wider in the relatively few faith schools won't achieve that.

i think another reason i'm so irritated is that she is so connnected to the heart of new labour... and that hectoring, patronising stance seems so typical of the regime - much easier to tell middle class parents off than to actually improve the schools.

WideWebWitch Sat 06-Mar-04 09:23:45

I agree bk, state funding for faith schools should be abolished. Either the church funds it and its then IS up to them who gets in (i.e those of a certain faith) or the state funds it and it's down to catchment area etc, not church attendance (so I suppose it's not a faith school then.) So when I said "I really don't think they [meaning the church] should have any say in who can attend" I mean I don't like the system as it stands, NOT that I think church schools should be open to those of any faith and those who start attending church when they have a pre-school child. That's hypocrisy.

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