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Why is private education so taboo now?

(587 Posts)
DoMyBest Fri 11-Apr-14 06:24:55

When I was younger I was privately educated as were most of my friends. Now we all have children and almost all of them have decided to send their children to state schools. Whilst for most of them it was a question of money, for others it really wasn't: they believe that every child should have the same educational opportunities and if parents like them start giving their kids exclusive treatment then the system won't work. Some of these parents chose local 'outstanding' state schools, but one couple with enough money to buy every private school in town admirably chose their worst local state school and work hard to improve it.

I listen to these stories with interest, sometimes admiration but mostly respect for their choices & views.

So it's with some alarm, now we have chosen a private school for our son, do discover the hatred this decision engenders. Private education has, it would seem, become taboo.

So here's my question: is it morally right for people to get angry with parents who privately educate their children?

BadgerB Fri 11-Apr-14 06:35:47

It is not morally right for anyone to be angry that someone of their acquaintance chooses to educate their own children differently. Putting a point of view is reasonable - expecting everyone else to agree and fall in line is definitely not.
And IMO your friend who chose the worst school is doing her children a grave disservice. One idealistic family is not going to transform a bad school. `

AChickenCalledKorma Fri 11-Apr-14 06:48:32

I don't think it is taboo. I think there is just a bit divide between those who choose state and private schools. So you will get that reaction from the parents who have chosen state. But you will also find another circle of friends who have chosen private. Personally, I've seen the sort of reaction you describe from both circles - the privately-educating friends who look down their nose at me when I mention the name of the state school my daughters go to ... and the state-educating friends who whisper behind the back of the brave couple who chose the local prep.

It's sad.

MothershipG Fri 11-Apr-14 06:51:45

I don't think you can generalise from your social circle to everyone else!

It isn't taboo where I live, not that many can afford to, but those that do aren't ostracised and there are certainly no moral judgements attached to it.

Martorana Fri 11-Apr-14 07:04:17

Now this is one of those OPs that I think must be exaggeration for effect. I would love private education to be "taboo" and for everyone to send their children to their local schools- but I can't see it happening any time soon!

MrsCampbellBlack Fri 11-Apr-14 07:06:54

Its certainly not taboo round where I live - there are many thriving private schools.

MrsCampbellBlack Fri 11-Apr-14 07:08:05

I've also found that once your child has started school, the topic of which schools to choose diminishes and the vast majority of people just don't discuss private v state.

Delphiniumsblue Fri 11-Apr-14 07:19:42

I don't think it is taboo. Most people simply can't afford it.
see here
They are more likely to present it as a definite choice than say they are forced to use state schools because they can't afford an alternative.

DoMyBest Fri 11-Apr-14 07:25:55

Maratorama I assure you I'm not exagerating. Some reactions have been so violent I've come away feeling like I'm not just a bad mother, but a really awful person in general. Having lived abroad for nearly a decade, it was a shock. I don't think it's just my group of friends: lots of criticism of private education in the media and on mumsnet. It's really quite scary! I hope my children won't be judged as harshly as I have been.

meditrina Fri 11-Apr-14 07:29:32


If that is the case, then I would say that you need a new set of acquaintances. For that is dysfunctional overreaction.

Or do you just mean 'not everyone agrees with me and I feel a bit miffed'?

Martorana Fri 11-Apr-14 07:30:51

I wish I lived in a community where everyone just sent their child to the local school- how fantastic! I wish I had lived there when mine were younger.

Not sure what bit of Mumsnet you've been reading, but in my experience it it incredibly pro private school. There was a survey a while ago which (I think) showed that more than 50%of mumsnetters used private schools- much higher than the national average. And that is most definite reflected in the education boards.

RunnerFive Fri 11-Apr-14 07:31:03

It's always been like this. You are probably just moving in slightly different social circles to those of your parents. I was at university with a girl with very successful parents who sent her to the local comprehensive which had a terrible reputation, and it was absolutely and utterly the right decision. She had extremely good A levels and I have never met anyone who was so genuinely confident and at ease in any social situation with friends from all walks of life.

meditrina Fri 11-Apr-14 07:32:23

X-ed with you last.

I'm not sure which bits of the media you mean, but having read (and contributed to) lots of the MN threads, my view is that you are seriously overreacting.

Is this the first time that you've had to realise that not everyone is going to agree with you? And that their views are valid too?

scarlettsmummy2 Fri 11-Apr-14 07:34:22

My daughter is at a private school and I completely understand why there is a lot of anger at times towards this system. It IS socially divisive, my daughter is in a little privileged bubble and it is not fair that there are children who do not have the same opportunities as she does. However, she is my child and I am willing to make sacrifices for her to have the best standard of eduction as I can. Had the state primary been able to do this, I would have sent her there. I also don't believe that her going to the local state primary would have made any difference to the fact it wasn't great.

glowstick Fri 11-Apr-14 07:37:00

The social circle you describe is not the normal at all!

Private schooling is still alive and well here and mine would be off in a heart beat if we had the money..

HomeHelpMeGawd Fri 11-Apr-14 07:49:33

Private schooling is certainly an issue which engages morality, and politics. It's therefore not surprising that people have strong reactions, although it's more surprising that your social circle are so open in sharing their views on your choices.

wordfactory Fri 11-Apr-14 08:02:49

Certainly some people react badly.

I had a few 'friends' who completely over stepped the mark when we sent our DC private. Bad manners doesn't come close.

And still we have acquaintances and the entirety of our extended families who see it as a competition. Funnily enough it's a competition we can never win grin. If their DC get better grades we will have 'wasted our money' if our DC get better grades it will be because we 'bought them.'

My advice OP - smile and nod, smile and nod. Never expalin, never complain.

saintsalive Fri 11-Apr-14 08:04:47

Dont take notice of what is said on mumsnet re education and some other things. It is off kilter with the rest of society. It has a life all of its own. And dont forget, people tell lies on here, and follow whatever the last few posters have written.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 11-Apr-14 08:08:29

It's not 'taboo', your friends just have more integrity different ideals from you, obviously.

Retropear Fri 11-Apr-14 08:15:37

I think most people in society are more aware these days and see the need to work hard in order to eradicate the unfair advantages private schools give.

I think it's slowly happening but until it happens I guess they will be looked at unfavourably.

scarlettsmummy2 Fri 11-Apr-14 08:21:29

The thing is though nepotism works across all sections of society, and that won't change simply by disliking private schools.

Finickynotfussy Fri 11-Apr-14 08:21:47

Well, we're the opposite way round (both state educated, as were nearly all our friends and our extended families). We're planning to send DD private as there is a huge shortage of school places round here and we can't take the stress of waiting to see what the council will come up with, if anything. Also only private schools seem to guarantee the wrap around care that will enable us to keep our jobs (in education!) I am expecting some flack, but who cares - you can't make these decisions based on what other people think.

I think some people react strongly as they see your decision as an implicit criticism of theirs. However, some people live in parts of the country where sending your child to a good local school is a genuine possibility, or the wrap around care thing isn't an issue. In which case, hurray, you get to have 'integrity' AND your DC gets a good school!

CMOTDibbler Fri 11-Apr-14 08:24:57

I think the bubble thing depends a lot on the school too - my ds goes to a private school which includes 8-6 care in the fees, and has holiday club available every holiday. It therefore attracts a lot of working parents, and the majority of cars aren't posh. It is more diverse culturally than the town where we live, and children come from a wide area.

In contrast, my friends live on a commuter belt estate of expensive houses, most of which are 4-5 beds, and the school which was built on the estate has a catchment of half a mile, so no one at all outside the estate (its detached from the actual town) goes. The children are all terribly middle class, no non white british children. It seems like they all go to football/brownies/ballet on the estate too, so little mixing with other children. Lots of chat about overseas holidays and skiing.

I've only met a few people judging our school choices, but in purely terms of childcare - we have no family help at all - it is the best thing for us and ds

scarlettsmummy2 Fri 11-Apr-14 08:30:39

Cmot- but that IS still a bubble! The vast majority of people can not afford fees at all, so you will only have the wealthy who are working (not your average earners claiming tax credits) and the ones who are not working are still very well off. It is not about expensive cars, but the lifestyles of the children at private school, and the fact that they are entirely sheltered from how other children live.

Coconutty Fri 11-Apr-14 08:30:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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