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'The Berlin Wall Manifesto' to reduce the divide between state & private schools

(125 Posts)
AmberTheCat Tue 04-Mar-14 10:46:36

This has arisen out of a series of recent articles in the New Statesman, picking up on various politicians' claims to want to break down the 'Berlin Wall' between state & private education.

What do we think?

1. Require private schools to sponsor at least one academy, and/or work in partnership with an academy provider, giving access to facilities and staff.

2. Allow private schools to convert to state school status through the Free Schools & Academies Programme.

3. Make private school charitable status conditional on freely offering 25% of places via random lottery to the most vulnerable children. No academic selection allowed.

4. Weaken the link between private schools and top universities by providing the highest GCSE scorer in each state school the opportunity to take a guaranteed interview at their choice of Cambridge, Durham or Oxford.

5. Disclosure of private schools’ accounts to give full details of bursaries, charitable activities and their impact.

6. Agree to take part in a Cross-Party Commission dedicated to finding the most practical way to fully implement these policies.

Dalliance Tue 04-Mar-14 14:45:26

So much of these threads are complaining about the small 7% in private...or the small x% in grammar ....they take the focus away from the real issues for the issues in the much larger majority that are in state - teaching has become de-professionalized over the years (so not necessarily attracting best and brightest graduates) and aspirations in state sectors and among certain parts of the population are low. The best indie schools can attract the best teachers from the best unis. The state schools need to do more of that.

Also, the mistake is that somehow all the general school population is to be judged on one measure - academic, and pretending that all are suitable for uni or are judged a failure under that system is wrong.

As for what Eton show to state - why take that to extremes - in asking what does Eton have to show the worse performing school? Why not say ...what does deluxe form of training or teaching beyond the curriculum for Oxbridge does child gets at a school at Westminster or an Eton involve and try to apply some of that for the state grammar classes and top of top sets at a leafy comp who may also be aspiring to the same?

But as soon as you say that then you get complaints about elitism in state sector - the best (in terms of academic) indie schools are that good though because they are shamelessly elitist in their selection.

Dalliance Tue 04-Mar-14 14:56:17

And how does 4 make any sense at all? the highest scorer at one state school may be lower than the highest five GCSE scorers at the next state school, four of which won't get a guaranteed interview. If they can't cope with the standard set by a course ...then it doesn't matter if they are highest in their year ...and surely Oxbridge is the best judge of who can cope best ...the record number of applications means the bar is being set higher and higher of course with additional barriers like STEP for maths at Cambridge and so it should be - they want the best who can cope with the pace...and keep their standing as top world class universities.

HavantGuard Tue 04-Mar-14 15:08:32


elastamum Tue 04-Mar-14 15:31:48

To answer your question: These proposals are a carefully crafted political 'look over there!' to distract you from the real issue that sucessive governements are failing large numbers of children re education.

and it appears to be working sad

Dalliance Tue 04-Mar-14 15:36:35

exactly elastamum...divide and conquer

TalkinPeace Tue 04-Mar-14 17:55:17

its London centric bilge written by Tory Boys who have never darkened the door of a rural Comp

motown3000 Tue 04-Mar-14 18:01:41

I like the ideas apart from point 3 ( Expect the Gods! of Mumsnet to despatch me to Coventry). The lack of Academic selection proposed the 25% of places should go free of charge to the most Academic , in effect restarting the Assisted Places Scheme.

lionheart Wed 05-Mar-14 17:17:57

I don't think they have thought it through. No 4 is just nonsense. Why those three universities? Why GCSE scores?

LauraBridges Wed 05-Mar-14 17:20:05

Privatise state education and give every parent a £5k a year voucher to spend and top up at any school of their choice.

TalkinPeace Wed 05-Mar-14 17:38:38

Privatise state education and give every parent a £5k a year voucher to spend and top up at any school of their choice.

Most parents will still only be able to afford to send their kids to the local school
and the rich already top up

think beyond the North Circular.

grovel Wed 05-Mar-14 18:08:21

Eton are sponsoring a state day/boarding school. They think they can advise/help with boarding issues. They will also be sharing their playing fields. Children from the state school will attend some of the lectures at Eton by outside speakers (and vice versa).

Seems eminently sensible to me.

From Eton's website:

Holyport College is a new, non-selective co-educational state secondary school with a Christian ethos, which will open in September 2014. It will be a mainstream 11-19 school for day pupils from the local area and for boarding pupils from local families and from further afield. 45% of the pupils will be boarders, who will come from a wide range of backgrounds but with specific provision being made for looked-after children, children on the edge of care and those from armed forces families. By 2018 there will be 500 pupils, of whom 225 will be boarders. The school will be modelled on an independent boarding school with pupils divided into houses and doing homework at school even if they are day pupils.

Eton's involvement in the period up to September 2014 is focused on ensuring the school opens on time and within the budget set by the Department for Education. A number of senior staff from Eton have been appointed as Governors of Holyport and, as well as lending their expertise to Holyport, it is hoped that some of Eton's ethos is reflected in its operations. Walter Boyle, Deputy Head of Wymondham College (the leading state boarding school in Norfolk) has been recruited as the first Head Master for Holyport and will start in January 2014. In the lead up to the school's opening he will be based in Eton.

Eton's educational sponsorship of Holyport College is intended as a way of sharing its pastoral experience and educational ethos to make a long-term contribution to its local community. Once the school opens we looks forward to sharing a number of our facilities and activities and developing educational initiatives for the benefit of pupils both here and at Holyport.

Holyport College has been established under the Government’s Free Schools programme and will be funded by the Department for Education. Construction work has started at the site. For more specific information about Holyport please visit:

wordfactory Wed 05-Mar-14 19:38:29

I don't mind if priavte schools wish tio sponsor a state school, but I wouldn't want to see them have to do it.

Some are small and already stretched...

I also don't mind if private schools wish to offer more bursary places to the most vulnerable. However, I'd question how helpful it would be for someone of low/average intelligence to be parachuted into a highly selective school.

Could work in mixed ability better, I think.

I really wouldn't want to see Oxbridge et al being forced to take on quotas. This will only drive down standards and possibly lead to them going private.

What I'd really rather see is more action to improve state schools, especially those that are doing very badly.

smee Thu 06-Mar-14 11:04:03

I find it mostly patch-work and patronising. The notion that of giving a few poor kids places/ sponsor state schools is feeding into the notion that private's best, which is firing the whole divide isn't it?! Personally I would be offended if our state schools were sponsored by private. The only way to solve this is to properly level the playing field (or as close as you can) and just ban all private education. I'm not advocating revolution, just basic common sense.

LauraBridges Thu 06-Mar-14 11:07:10

You can't ban private schools. Also very few of us use them so they are not really the issue. If the sate system is bad then it should copy the private system not sit there jealously throwing stones at something which works very well. If it were banned to pay fees parents would just educate abroad or at home.

TalkinPeace Thu 06-Mar-14 11:29:30

has anybody apart from you LauraBridges proposed banning private schools?

What needs banning are segregated state funded schools (by 11+, god or gonads) : you want any of that segregation, you pay for it.

TalkinPeace Thu 06-Mar-14 11:31:56

ah, sorry, saw that smee is in the cloud cuckoo land of banning stuff

in countries that ban choice in schools, the rich send their kids overseas to school (Kim Jong Un in Switzerland, the Chinese politburo to the US and UK)
so the rich give even LESS of a shit about the schooling in their home country
bad thing

smee Thu 06-Mar-14 11:47:49

Laura, most of us do use the state system and personally I think a lot of it is very good. Not saying private schools don't do things well too, but there's good and bad in both isn't there?

Talking, yep you're right I am happily in cloud cuckoo land, but wouldn't it be fairer if there weren't any private schools? After all that's what the whole Berlin Wall thing's about, so levelling the difference. I know it's never going to happen but just felt someone ought to say how daft this discussion really is. As long as Private schools exist it will never be fair.

Just on your point about parents sending their kids abroad, well yay for that. If that's what they want to do I'm all for it. Clearly I like cloud cuckoo land, but it doesn't hurt to be idealistic sometimes. grin

TalkinPeace Thu 06-Mar-14 11:51:41

but wouldn't it be fairer if there weren't any private schools
has the lack of private schools made Russia a fair society ?
Or China?
Or North Korea?

Find me the country that has no private schools and a fair society.

smee Thu 06-Mar-14 11:59:47

Talkin not having private schools is hardly going to turn the UK into a closed state ruled by a dictator. That a mighty strange way of arguing for keeping them!

The fact is that whatever you do human nature is such that some will opt out. So the rich may well send their kids abroad, but fewer would if the state schools here were fantastic. Getting rid of all private education wouldn't turn us into North Korea though..!

nibs777 Thu 06-Mar-14 11:59:59

smee.....are you going to ban private tutoring too (not sure how you police that) ....or home educating...or boarding....or middle class people sending their children off in the holidays to maths camp, or science camp or language camps? i.e. anything which you perceive may give a less even playing field as you see it.

It seems silly to advocate abolishing private schools because they are they give an unfair advantage in your view (in other words you must think they are superior to state) ...all you are saying is let's bring the standards of schooling down for those who can afford private rather than bringing state up...also not all private schools are more academic of course, - some less so than state, but what parents are often paying for is choice....(though when it comes to highly academic schools that is obviously highly competitive at selection stage - another reason those schools do so well) - choosing the right school for their child may be based on having acres of green space, large emphasis on particular sports or music or drama ...and what is wrong with paying for that if you want to opt out of state?

Abolish this and that sounds very totalitarian ...just because all do not have the choice you want no-one else to have choice at all. I don't know any free country in the world that has abolished private education...there are other wealthy countries where private is far less prevalent but that is because the state system is generally very good...and that is where you should focus on.

TalkinPeace Thu 06-Mar-14 12:04:49

I mention those countries, because Communist Countries abolished private schools.
Ex communist countries generally re allowed them.
Non communist countries, to my knowledge, have never banned them
for the exact reasons nibs mentions

find me a democratic / semi democratic country that has banned private schools but has a more equal education system than the UK

motown3000 Thu 06-Mar-14 12:25:42

The thought of not allowing people to spend their Tax Paid earnings how they like makes me shudder . The first rule of democracy is that you are entitled to spend you "legally Earned Money in any legal way.

Soveryupset Thu 06-Mar-14 12:25:55

I agree. For very many of us private has been the very last resort when the state school available has failed a particular child or when the local options were very substandard.

I often laugh when I hear about politicians sending children to "state schools" as I am 100% sure they would never go near our catchment secondary with its a-c gcse's below national average and 0% to Oxbridge, combined with barbed wire decorating the school gates!!

Soveryupset Thu 06-Mar-14 12:26:52

ps I meant I agree with Talkinpeace about the fact that emphasis should be about improving all state schools.

nibs777 Thu 06-Mar-14 12:28:01

People who want to abolish private and like to use "us and them" Berlin wall metaphors may want to open their minds a bit and consider other Western European models rarely discussed by our France which subsidizes privates making them more accessible, or Denmark which also does this for example...see link:

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