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German expat questions value for money of top English private schools

(240 Posts)
Bonsoir Sun 19-Jul-15 12:39:05


Decorhate Sun 19-Jul-15 14:22:47

I don't see what's stopping him from sending them to a good state comprehensive? It sounds like he would actually prefer that.

Eastpoint Sun 19-Jul-15 14:28:32

Even If he'd sent his children to day school they'd have had a more normal life. Didn't he realise that by sending his children to very expensive boarding schools they'd only meet children from other families like his? Westminster even has Saturday school, thus limiting time his child can spend doing 'normal' things, like working in a shop, at the weekend.

tribpot Sun 19-Jul-15 14:31:42

Seems odd if his intention was to communicate with parents in Germany that he chose The Telegraph to do so. I believe other countries have their own newspapers but perhaps that's just nonsense I learnt in my good state comprehensive wink

Bonsoir Sun 19-Jul-15 14:31:45

Sevenoaks has Saturday school too.

Clearly the original article was designed to dispel the very persistent almost myth like status of British boarding schools among a certain segment of affluent and ambitious Germans.

Bonsoir Sun 19-Jul-15 14:33:02

The original article was in the Frankfurter. Quite a few British newspapers have picked up on it.

UptheRhine Sun 19-Jul-15 14:36:53

I fear that Herr Holle, like many expats, has developed a rather rose tinted view of his home country's educational system while in London. Much of Germany continues to operate a three tier educational system with the "brightest" (read white, German, middle class) going to the Gymnasium or Grammar school, "less able" going to a second tier school and the rest (read poor, non white, and disadvantaged) ending up in a third tier school. With all the social problems associated with swervable schools in the UK. The short school day also means that students depend very heavily on having a parent at home to help with homework and organise sport, music and extra curricular. Those without affluent, SAHM mothers (and it is always the mother)have a real uphill struggle. Just look at the PISA study comments on the German educational system.
That - combined with the need for fluent English to get a decent job in Germany - is why so many German parents buy a British private school education. Those whose children do not make the move to the grammar at 10 - or who have to repeat a year , or who get demoted to the lower tier schools because they have problems keeping up often see a move to a UK school as their one last chance. And many condemned by the German system do really well in UK. It's just tough for those without rich parents.
Quite why Mr Holle shelled out the better part of £1million for UK private schools he did not want while having the chance to get his kids into good London comps, or free selective schools in Kent/Surrey is not clear to me. Does not really say much for that great Dusseldorf education!

WhattodowithMum Sun 19-Jul-15 20:06:55

I think his actions speak louder than his words.

Needmoresleep Sun 19-Jul-15 20:11:04

Both my DC have been to Germany via exchanges organised by their London private schools. Exchange partners were from highly regarded Gymnasiums in major cities. Impressions were of rigid syllabi, large classes, shabby facilities, limited EC and limited diversity. Though obviously using a selective London private school as a starting point is gong to encourage less than flattering comparisons. That said, inevitably, the German students had fantastic English, far far better than the German of their English counterparts.

I wonder if Herr Holle is aware that public funding for education across Europe is under stress across Europe, and that Germany along with France, Britain and elsewhere has plenty of debate about how best to organise secondary education.

granolamuncher Sun 19-Jul-15 20:46:36

If his fellow bankers would listen to Mr Holle, follow his words to their logical conclusion and go find more modest schools for their DC, perhaps the public schools which annoy him so much would be compelled to make themselves affordable by other sectors of the population and everyone would be a winner. wink

Bonsoir Sun 19-Jul-15 21:12:52

Lol NeedMoreSleep, you have validated Arnold Holle's point: expensive - luxurious, even - facilities and lots of fun extra-curricular activities, at vast expense to parents, do not guarantee excellent academic standards. Merely comfort and a lovely polish!

granolamuncher Sun 19-Jul-15 21:27:48

Expensive facilities and small classes don't guarantee academic excellence but, unfortunately, the top academic schools have got it into their heads that the banker parents who pay their fees want these things. Mr Holle is debunking that myth, which is great news.

If any heads are listening, we could at last see the slashing of luxuries and a reaching out to a more diverse community which many supporters of independent schools have been hoping to see.

Bonsoir Sun 19-Jul-15 21:44:27

granolamuncher - I suspect it is a great deal easier to persuade parents to part with their cash for luxury/exclusivity than it is to make their DC work a hell of a lot harder...

granolamuncher Sun 19-Jul-15 22:00:37

Spot on, Bonsoir. It's such a pity today's heads are so feeble.

Bonsoir Sun 19-Jul-15 22:14:26

Heads have businesses to run and all sorts of stakeholders (parents, pupils and teachers) who are managing a trade-off between effort and comfort to their own personal advantage.

Personally, I think that legislation on class sizes is the first step forward. Make GCSEs dependent on class sizes that are similar across sectors.

TendonQueen Sun 19-Jul-15 22:20:14

Oh, now, that would be interesting...

WhattodowithMum Sun 19-Jul-15 22:21:01

I don't understand Bonsoir, how would that work?

granolamuncher Sun 19-Jul-15 22:35:24

Please no legislation, Bonsoir, what is really important about independent schools is that they should remain independent.

Unfortunately, like so many other institutions which should know better, they have been bending over backwards to please bankers. Now that Mr Holle is telling them that he, for one, is not impressed, there is suddenly real cause for hope that the stupid rush to luxury will cease.

But the heads will have to be brave enough to ignore Tatler and the Good Schools Guide who attach more importance to fripperies and snob value than sensible German bankers apparently do.

Needmoresleep Sun 19-Jul-15 23:41:26

Bonsoir, I don't think that is what I said. The German system struck them a bit like the French, though the German schools they experienced were a higher standard with a much more affluent catchment. (Not surprising as they were effectively some of the best state schools in Germany whilst the French school DD had an exchange with was in the back end of beyond, and the French girl we had staying with us had no English at all) As I said above, despite this the schools came across as rigid with less going on. One thing good English private schools seem to do very well is to encourage pupils to take an intellectual interest and to question.

In terms of language we have come across French children with good English but they have been without exception from Paris with banker fathers. DD has spent time in other parts of France (mainly bienvenue chez les ch'tis) and has been surprised that even older teenagers at lycees have virtually no English, and indeed very little interest in learning English. Ditto in Germany. Her host was at a very good school had an international lawyer father and spoke near perfect English. However during her stay DD attended a local sports club and not one teenager spoke any English. (I was a bit surprised, but she is clear that all conversations happened in German as after 2 years of a three year GCSE course her German was better than their English.)

UptheRhines comments are interesting. I knew Germans often choose to come to the UK, however only know an Italian boy who was likely to have to repeat a year because he failed one subject, but came to the Uk instead and has done exceptionally well with lots of A*s at both GCSE and A level. DD is dyslexic which is not too big a problem in the UK, but probably would be elsewhere. Perhaps Herr Holle is wrong and a more structured approach to learning suits some children whereas a more inquisitive approach suits others.

Bonsoir Mon 20-Jul-15 07:49:57

Making the validity of GCSEs dependent on DC being taught in classes of a minimum size wouldn't undermine the independence of independent schools. Participation in national public examinations always requires adherence to rules.

Bonsoir Mon 20-Jul-15 08:03:39

NeedMoreSleep - Germany and France have very fundamental differences in their education systems that creates striking differences in MFL acquisition (and indeed across the board). Remember: Germany has a school system where selection kicks in at the start of secondary whereas the French system is comprehensive until 15, ie a full four years later. There are provisions within French schools for some language streaming (about to be abolished by the current government) to boost more able pupils, but DC are, in their vast majority, taught MFL (not necessarily English, btw) in mixed ability non-streamed classes in college (Y7 to Y10) whereas German DC in the Gymnasium track are already learning in high ability groups.

English is, in France, a prerequisite for a whole host of HE courses. All DC taking an academic bac must do at least two MFL.

Needmoresleep Mon 20-Jul-15 08:07:38

Bonsoir, my understanding was that the British system already allowed for a greater degree of adjustment for, effectively, school advantage, than the French or German. Applications for competitive courses at British Universities are considered on an individual basis. Pupils at top performing schools may be expected to get a long string of A*s at GCSE, and indeed may then still be rejected. The bar will be lower for pupils coming from poorly performing schools, and indeed Universities often offer access courses to support applications from able students from poor schools.

I may be wrong but my understanding was that in France (and from what our exchange said, in Germany) if you get the grades, you get the place despite the fact that there are huge variations in teaching/aspiration in schools across the country.

UptheRhine Mon 20-Jul-15 08:08:50

I would just add that comparing a Gymnasium to a UK independent school is the equivalent of comparing a selective UK grammar school to a UK independent school. I imagine many UK parents with a free place at eg Tiffin, Judd, Skinners, etc might think long and hard about how much extra they would get for their money in the independent sector. But in Germany as in UK the majority of children do not go to Gymnasiums. The difference is that in UK a good comprehensive offers a first class academic education to all students. The three tier system in Germany does not.
The more I think about it, the odder this article is. If Herr Holle was so concerned about ensuring his kids had a diverse set of friends and acquaintances why did he not send them to local London schools? Why did he not ensure they got jobs during the holidays? Why did he not invite the children of his worker friends from Germany to spend holidays in London with his kids?
Just strikes me as a pretty shallow piece of journalism.

Miggsie Mon 20-Jul-15 08:12:44

Has he only just noticed that the English Boy' 'Public School system is specifically designed to exclude 95% of the population, and once you are in them, ensure the boys are then kept well away from said excluded 95% of the population?

TheWordFactory Mon 20-Jul-15 08:25:39

Shock news just in.

British boarding schools cater for wealthy families.

Read all about it!

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