Tuesday, 1 June 2010

I’m having a wobble.  I’m not sure, just yet, how big the wobble is but it’s disconcerting.
My wobbliness concerns education.
I went to a state school, not because I wasn’t academically capable, just because I did, and so did most of the children that grew up in the village.  There was a local-ish grammar school but it would have been two bus rides or a forty minute round trip for my working parents.
There was also a local private/public school but nobody went there.  I mean obviously some children went there but nobody in my childhood social circle.
So I’m a product of the state system.  I don’t have a chip on my shoulder about it and in fact I’m quite proud to have gone through the “Comprehensive System.”
At some point I developed an anti-private school attitude.  I’m not sure when that happened but my views probably crystallised at University.  I decided that public school was just wrong because children were being removed from their parents, and I decided that private schools were wrong because I somehow believed that those who were a product of private schools thought themselves to be better than me.
I didn’t think it was right that money could, or should, be allowed to buy privilege.
My husband went to a private school and he had an interesting experience.  There’s no doubt that his good exam results were better because of the dedication of the teachers.  But then some of the teachers' methods, were suspect.  I won’t bore you with the details but feel free to ask me about the “Dutch Oven”, “Avalanche” and “Pigs in Space.”
My husband’s experience didn’t alter my view.
And then I had children and they are currently going through the State system in a State Primary School.  But as the M&S ads used to say “This isn’t just any Primary School, this is a Church of England Primary School.” 
We’re lucky.  Our local school is a good school in a good neighbourhood with good results.  At the moment it’s all “good.”
As my children get older though my thoughts turn to secondary school.  I judge the local schools by the children I see outside school and most pupils do their school reputation a disservice.  And I remember when I walked around town with my friends and I was probably just as obnoxious, but with less make-up and fewer cigarettes.
I see the children from the local private school and they seem smarter, more polite, less loutish.  I also see the exam results.
I see that Universities are becoming stricter about entry requirements and I see State schools backed into a corner, forced to become Academies. 
I see our education system using business speak, treating children as the raw material to which value must be added.  And I wonder whether a long held principle might just be slipping from my grasp. 


Anonymous said...

You're already paying for your children's apparent "free" state education...you have bought a house in an area with good local schools!

Paying for private school is just simply paying that bit extra and with usually excellent results.

Ann said...

We had no idea about local schools when we bought our house. We just got lucky. And I have an inkling that the local private school fees would be more than our annual mortgage payments. To me that's more than "just a little bit extra."
I'm not sure what I think about the whole thing anymore and I used to be absolutely certain.