Sunday, February 11, 2007

Voting Result

After 24 hours we've got about 30 'Yes' votes and not a single 'No'. I can't help but think (as Lily said) that it's a pretty terrible comment on the State Education system.

Let's move on to a question posed by a reader in an email yesterday.

"Why are the Private Schools so much better than the State ones?

38 comments:

Nick said...

Very easy: misconduct loses you the privilege of attending the school because it undermines the rights of the other students to get the education their parents are paying for. I think the state system has this arse backwards.

billy said...

Small classes. I started my teaching career with classes of 23. Nowadays I usually get 35 in a maths set. This in primary where we were promised class maximums of 30

lilyofthefield said...

No scum and no bleeding hearts to protect their precious rights. Exercise scumship in a fee-paying school and you're out before you can say "European Court".

And the minor advantage of having kids whose families have put their money where their belief in the value of education is.

nick said...

The fact that the one is voluntary while the other is compulsory which necessarily puts state schools on the same spectrum as prisons. That element means that whatever investment and whatever policies, private schools are always going to have an advantage of some sort.

The answer might be to offer parents more choice in education (i.e. a school voucher scheme) so that any parents that actually cares about their children's education can send them to a school where there is some sort of policy on behaviour. More radically, you might just stop compulsory education altogether and then find that it is better giving 98% of children in this country a good education, than 100% (in theory) of children a bad or mediocre education.

Anonymous said...

I've worked in both, currently I work at a private school and wouldn't go back to a state school.

Parents who are prepared to pay for the education of their children are usually (although not always) from 'better' families, in that I mean they have nicer homes, better paid jobs and hardly any crime related problems, consequently their offspring reflect this. Additionally, the parents take an active role in ensuring that their money is not wasted and ensure that homework is done etc etc etc.

One of our Year 11's made a comment the other week that was totally obvious and my sarcastic reply was 'Maybe you should consider a career in C.I.D.', to which she asked what C.I.D. was, had I made that remark in a state school I have no doubt that not only would they all of known what C.I.D. was some of them would have been on first name terms with many of them!

Anonymous said...

• small classes
• kids who (mostly) actually want to be there
• the ability to expel kids who detract from the education of others - tho' I've seen some of those allowed to remain simply because their parents were paying full fees :-(
• more money for more resources. An acquaintance who switched from teaching in a state school to a private one commented that his budget for the music department was more for one term than the budget for an entire year in the state school, and for far fewer pupils!
• more flexibility in curriculum.

Anonymous said...

The biggest observation for me is actually that the private schools I have observed actually care about their staff. They develop them, listen to them and give them freedom to develop the curriculum. The result is that there is practically NO absenteeism amongst staff; they all *want* to help with extra-curricula activities; and they are passionate about their subjects -- and the kids really get off on that and respond.

Of course it helps that they don't have to spend 90% of their time getting the kids to actually sit down and listen - that's a given; or that the classes are small enough (25 max) so that each child can receive enough attention.

Still - I am certain what I am paying for, and equally certain that it is good value.

One of my children goes to a state grammar school - around 1000 of the brightest kids in the country. You'd think that the teachers would be queuing up for this! but what we get is an *incredible* amount of support teachers and staff turnover (even during my child's GCSE years) we get staff who are frankly crap; but who can't be got rid of; and we have all the extra-curricular activities taken care of by the sixth form - which may be character building for them; but doesn't really do the trick for me.

Anonymous said...

The biggest observation for me is actually that the private schools I have observed actually care about their staff. They develop them, listen to them and give them freedom to develop the curriculum. The result is that there is practically NO absenteeism amongst staff; they all *want* to help with extra-curricula activities; and they are passionate about their subjects -- and the kids really get off on that and respond.

Of course it helps that they don't have to spend 90% of their time getting the kids to actually sit down and listen - that's a given; or that the classes are small enough (25 max) so that each child can receive enough attention.

Still - I am certain what I am paying for, and equally certain that it is good value.

One of my children goes to a state grammar school - around 1000 of the brightest kids in the country. You'd think that the teachers would be queuing up for this! but what we get is an *incredible* amount of support teachers and staff turnover (even during my child's GCSE years) we get staff who are frankly crap; but who can't be got rid of; and we have all the extra-curricular activities taken care of by the sixth form - which may be character building for them; but doesn't really do the trick for me.

Anonymous said...

The Private schools spend more money per pupil. On average £8000 per year versus £5000 in the State sector.

However, I'm not convinced that this alone explains the difference.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they have Heads who have actually taught and aren't just 'experts' in Business Studies who see being a Head as a cheap and easy way of 'managing your own business'?
Who allow bright kids to flourish rather than focusing on toerags who don't give a toss?
Who treat their staff as experts in their field rather than units of work?
Do private schools have the same problems recruiting heads as state schools? I think not.
The same levels of stress amongst staff (which makes for better teaching)? Unlikely.
Respect all round, perhaps? Values? Common sense?
Sorry, I'm in a cynical mood today.

Allan Him said...

I'd be interested to know if any of the teachers here would consider educating their own children at home?

Why/Why not?

Teaching could be shared between parents as seemed appropriate. Maybe like-minded friends could teach some subjects. Or is this just perceived as fringe lunacy?

lilyofthefield said...

Allan Him: if the choice had boiled down to the hellhole school I used to teach at (I now work there in a different capacity) and home-educating, I would have done the latter.

The teachers there, those who have lasted more than a year, are committed, experienced professionals who have honed their expertise at getting anything at all out of the kids. It's just that I wouldn't want my children spending quite so much time in the company of the underclass in case some of it rubbed off.

Anonymous said...

I've taught in both state and private and I have to say the main difference can be summarised in one word: "high expectations"

But in a private system there are ways of enforcing high expectations if they are not met by students, teachers or parents (and of course getting rid of the rot).

The state system seems to be like a eunuch with a sex drive - it knows what it wants but has no way of getting it.

Mary said...

Because the parent has paid for the child to go to the school. Furthermore, the parent has probably worked to be able to pay for the child to go to the school, and has probably also gone without certain things they would like to have bought.

The parents want their money's worth. They will make the kids aware of this: "do you think I'm paying £££ a term for you to mess about?!"

It's also possible that parents who are prepared to invest money in their children getting a good start in life may invest time and effort as well - time to make sure the kid does homework, time to come to parent/teacher evenings, effort to see that the kid is properly dressed and gets to school on time and learns what is appropriate behaviour.

shoutoutloud said...

Private schools have teeth that can be used to get rid of troublemakers (teachers, students and parents).

And besides, the Chavs aren't interested in spending money on something that you can't plug in, smoke or eat, so that keeps most of their chjildren out as well.

Anonymous said...

Because private schools pander to the wants and needs of the parents as a whole, who the majority of want a good education for their children, where state schools pander to the wants and 'needs' of the government, i.e. pretty statistics and inclusiveness of 'scum'. I went to a grammar school which had a headmaster who seemed to have no qualms about expelling people, having an attitude of "You have a right to an education, but not at this school". Not being afraid of punishing idiots and supporting teachers (and prefects, there was a prefect system which didn't fall apart because the kids didn't listen - cause they did) mean that teachers could a) work and b) would do more work, i.e. extra ciricular activities which get kids invovled etc. The comprehensive down the road, on the otherhand, was full of wee little shits, with wishy washy red card yellow card systems.

alanorei said...

The state system can be made to work, in spite of its faults, and should be.

Our 2 lads went to a good state school and attended the highly-regarded local 6th form college afterwards.

Media presenter Selina Scott was the school's head girl back in the 1960s. (The school was a grammar school back then, I think.)

Our older lad achieved a 2/1 Honours degree in English at Manchester University and the younger lad should have no problem securing a place at a good university.

But the school is in a good, essentially middle-class professional area, where chav pupils are outnumbered and their disruptive influence can be curtailed.

As indicated, the state system can and should be made to work, nationwide, especially insofar as private education isn't an option for most taxpayers - who should in any event be getting something worthwhile in return for their expenditure.

But this won't happen unless:

1. Teachers have the necessary autonomy

2. Society as a whole is de-chaved

3. The current Westminster cabal is by and large replaced by responsibly-minded politicians, if that's not a contradiction in terms.

But if 1-3 above can be implemented, you might get back to 1950s-style education in a generation or so.

An aim worth achieving, I suggest.

Andy C said...

1: Because a Private School can choose its pupils

2: Because children at Private Schools are called Oliver and Christopher, not Wayyyyne and Chelseeea

3: Because a Private School can kick pupils out

4: Because Wayne's father would rather spend his money on fags and beer

5: Because if a Private School has a disruptive pupil, soon all the other parents will move their children to other private schools.

6: Because the state system is exactly as you describe in your book

lilyofthefield said...

"red card yellow card"

You know your disciplinary system's on the ropes when it has to depend on making the sanctions hey, "relevant" to the kids by using sporting terms. We have "time out" and the "sin bin", both of which have to be staffed and equipped, and the kids are sent there unescorted. I am peronally tired of herding hordes of roaming ne'er-do-wells off the corridors. ("WE'RE GOING TO TIME OUT, ALRIGHT????")

Rachel said...

The biggest difference is that the children have parents who care about their offsprings' education

Anonymous said...

Look the sad fact is that some students are just not cut out for education, some of them will only ever be able to cope with hard graft and physical, unskilled work.

The problem is that our ecconomy has changed from being a producing style one to a service style system, which means that we've lost the jobs down the pits and in the steel factories.

those old fashioned jobs are what most of the chavs would have gone into 40 or 50 years ago where educational skills weren't too important, and the skills they needed they could have learned on the job or as aprentices.

I worked in the F.E system which let me tell you is where all the scum ends up after it's been let go from high school. Trying to teach them the basics that they'll need for jobs in call centres or as I.T workers is a virtually impossible job. I can categorically state that we've never had one private school educated student threw our doors. (I wonder why?)

Look yes education is a right of everyone, but it is a right that should not be given automatically, the students need to continually demonstrate that they deserve that right by working hard and being respectful. If they can't do this, kick the little bastards out!

I agree with Nick's point it's better to concentrate on the 98% (perhaps a little optimistic) of students and throw the 2% out that are wasters.

One size of education doesn't fit all and we need many more schools, more money (might I suggest that firstly you tax the super rich far more than you do now Mr. Brown, like maybe something in the region of 50%. Plus just to prove I'm a fair minded and equal person, parents would have to pay an additional £100 a term or year depending on their income straight to the school instead of from their taxes.)

Also bring back corpral punishment. There is nothing wrong with instilling a small amount of fear (and I do only mean a small amount)into the students it keeps them in their place which is as the students not incharge of the whole school.

Dilys said...

There is some interesting spelling and grammar here.

lilyofthefield said...

Hahahaha the FE system is where my friends went to get away from the likes of. Now they've got them all back!

Kick them out to where exactly? To do what? We CAN'T discipline them any more effectively than we already do (oooo detention! Two-day exclusion!) so what little extras would an approved-type school be legally able to apply? You might as well face the fact that corporal punishment is not coming back in any of our lifetimes.

Anonymous said...

Discipline
Small classes

And, crucially, no do-gooders screwing it up for those who want to teach, and learn.

Anonymous said...

Lily, I take your point, I think my idea would be make all the little gits do the really horrible jobs; like clearing dog mess off the streets (with gloves of course)or give them the experience of actually doing some real work for a change. Failing that instead of sending naughty kids on nice holidays to centre parcs or wherever, send them to a country in the developing world that still has workable coal mines and heavy industry and give them 6 months of it. Then give them the choice of staying there or coming back and going back into education. I reckon that might be an eye opener for a large proportion of the neer-do-wells.

On the subject of corpral punishment, I am of an age whereby I can remember it still used - just - before its abolishment and I can tell you it was an effective deterant. Our primary school headmaster did use it, and just the thought of it put the fear of God into us. So much so that the inbuilt respect for my teachers stayed with me for the rest of my education. Punishments are only effective as long as they frighten the possible recipients. I also believe that punishments should to some degree hurt. By all means explain the reasons for using them afterwards (or before) but they should be used. Children are no better than wild animals at times and so such be delt with as such.

lilyofthefield said...

bUT THE WHOLE POINT IS THAT YOU can't. pUT THEM ON DOG-MESS-CLEARING DUTY? hUMILIATING, I'M ALLERGIC TO LATEX, i MIGHT GET A DISEASE, MY mUM SAYS I DON'T HAVE TO DO IT, AND THEY DON'T TURN UP. hELL'S TEETH, IF WE CAN'T GET THEM INTO CLASSROOMS FOR FIVE HOURS OF SOCIAL CHIT-CHAT
(sorry caps lock I can't type and look at the screen at the same time) and low-effort edutainment, what inducements are there for them to clear up dog mess? They aren't even made to do that for breaking and entering or assault.

We can't MAKE them do anything and they know it. That's why we have to depend upon ten-minute bursts of IWB, imbecilic games and online activities in the hope of seducing them into making us look as if wea are actually teaching them anything at all.

Anonymous said...

Private schools don't close at the drop of a hat, or a snowflake, and they don't give the kids a half-day for 'inservice training for teachers' once a week, an afternoon on which, if you phone the school at 2.30pm, you are told by the janitor that 'there's naebody here, they've all went home'. Nor do they close on election days because the council is too thick to use the community centre next door for voting when they can use a school instead.

chris said...

smaller classes, less stressed staff, better relationships between all parties concerned, less chance, if you're a PFI school, of the SMT trying to turn it into a business instead of a people place

sleepy said...

No chavs

Teachers that still shout at pupils

School open when it snows and kids are allowed to snowball

A cookery class where my daughter is allowed to cook ie use an oven and sharp knives

DT lessons where again you get to use proper metal work tools and actually achieve something

The list goes on and on and on and this is over and above real lessons on real subjects.

Anonymous said...

alanorei said...

"...you might get back to 1950s-style (state) education in a generation or so.

An aim worth achieving, I suggest."

Maybe, but don't forget: the ruling elite does not want that to happen.

They make the rules for state education. They make it so there's no chance of state educated people forming an effective opposition to their rule. 1950s style education was leading to that - look at how influential ordinary state educated people were in the post-war period.

That's why state schools are rubbish now. The ruling elite send their children to private schools.

alanorei said...

Anon said:

"don't forget: the ruling elite does not want that to happen."

Exactly.

Thus the point about replacing the plonkers in parliament.

The current cabal, with few exceptions, make William Joyce look like a patriot.

Gary said...

In the private sector.
The child comes first.
The staff show a committment to their jobs and an enthusiasm for learning that in the public sector would be treated with derision. Remember they work long days including Saturdays with enthusiasm. Look at any private school website and see for yourself what activities during and after school they offer.
My son had his mild dyslexia identified and additional help and constructive strategies put in place. We were constantly updated and had access to the staff concerned. In the state system he would have been allowed to sink without trace.
Encouragement to look outside the norm. He dropped Latin as he had problems with language learning and fell in love with Classics his enthusiasm for this subject took my breath away. His teachers were able to see, nurture and extend his interest.
I doubt that would have happened in the state school he would have been placed in.
Learning that in life the only way to success is plain hard work and taking pride in what you achieve and having that hard work celebrated.
Yes it is expensive and as I have said elsewhere we had to make sacrificies and it was worth every penny. My son attended one of the schools that was criticised for 'fixing' the fees and at one time we may have had a refund but both my wife and I decided that if we had done so we would have simply donated the same sum back to the school. I think that gives some idea of how we felt that we had value for money.
What did we get out of it? The knowledge that we have given our son a chance that he simply would not have had in the state system otherwise.
My son? 8A* GCSE 2A GCSE and 2A and a B at A level, and a desire to enter the teaching profession.

Anonymous said...

What might help is if every parent was given a voucher equal to the value of a childs state education that could be used towards paying fees. I used to feel some resentment that paying school fees was actually helping keep class sizes down and so I was also not only paying for fees but also contributing my hard earned income in keeping class size down

Anonymous said...

What might help is if every parent was given a voucher equal to the value of a childs state education that could be used towards paying fees. I used to feel some resentment that paying school fees was actually helping keep class sizes down and so I was also not only paying for fees but also contributing my hard earned income in keeping class size down

Anonymous said...

As a parent who pays school fees for two children on two teachers' salaries, I have to say that it is for simple reasons:

1. No matter how rich you are, it's expensive. Two kids in public school is equal to the monthly payments on a five year finance deal for a Ferrari. (You can tell I've thought about this a lot.) Anyone making that sort of investment is going to care - deeply. If only all parents were that motivated...

2. Piss about in a public school and you are out. Children who learn early in life that some things are non-negotiable always behave better. And this makes for an classroom with a better work ethic.

3. How much of a public school teacher's time is wasted on LEA and DfES bullshit? I caught my daughter's English teacher sitting on a bench, eating an apple and reading a novel during her free period. That's what I want to see English teachers doing.

Cynical

helen said...

Coz they get to select their pupils on ability and behaviour, and charge whatever they want to fund the quality of their resources. State schools don't have these luxuries.

Laban said...

2 kids at State comp, the 3rd boy private. Learned from experience (and my late mother left me some money).

The big difference - especially for boys - is the culture. Expectations are high. The amount of work expected is high - enough homework to mean that going out on weekday evenings is something that has to be planned. Balanced by NO work at all during the (longer than State school) holidays, which is great. He works hard in term - he deserves the break.

It seems to work. He does the homework because everybody else does too.

My sons at State school complained that other kids didn't do any homework with no sanctions. That kind of thing does demotivate people.

Lots of male teachers - role models for the kids - a few tough rugby/ex-military types. At state schools the staff - and the culture - seems a little too feminised. We have friends who teach in state schools and they tell us horror stories with a wry 'what can you do' air.

It distresses me that a poor but bright kid will miss out on that sort of education - which the State offered up till 1970-odd. Bring back grammars please !

Anonymous said...

Helen, they certainly can't charge whatever they want. The market is very competitive especially round our way, where there are about a dozen private schools.

One point that nobody has mentioned which I'm sure you won't like is:

Private Schools in general have much better teachers.

At the school my offspring goes to, every teacher has a good degree (quite a few have Masters)in the subject they teach from a reputable University.

Compare this with the local Comp where he could have gone. They have no science teacher with a Physics degree and no less than eight teachers off with long term sickness/skiving.