I see that private school applications are down

Pay children to attend top private schools, Government told
Dozens of top private schools are calling on the Government to provide state subsidies to allow bright pupils to be admitted irrespective of family background, it emerged today.

The actual idea is pretty good, effectively, give them back the tax they\’ve paid for the State school system if they\’re not using it.

But it\’s still rent seeking.

Update: Re the Latin. My slightly strange experience was to go from the RAF School in Naples straight into the maw of Prep School. First Latin lesson I\’m told to stand up and translate something on the fly from a language I\’d never even seen before. And boy did having a Pozzuoli accent (hey, Latin is just Italian without the jesticulations), something closer to Catalan mumbled through a mouthful of pizza than anything else, cause confusion.

But what really got me was the Cambridge Latin course. It\’s all about this family that live on the side of the Bay of Naples, Baia, and then at the end of year one, while they\’ve gone to Pompeii it blows up and, well, everyone else wa doing the verbs n\’ stuff and I was going, hmm, there\’s good swimming just where they are now. And yes, used to go picnicing at Cumae where they are now, and that Sybil\’s Grot was just over the lake from us and got badly bombed in the war…..that Temple of Jupiter is where my mate Adam jumped in and cut his foot on a dumped car.

Beginning of second year and the remnants of the family had turned up in Bath….the Worstall familial home before and after Naples. We used to have Dolphins swimming club in the Cross Bath which is fed from the Roman plumbing of the old Baths……

Never did learn buggery of the language but still, nice of them to place it all in geography I knew about.

26 thoughts on “I see that private school applications are down”

  1. We used to have this. It was called the Assisted places scheme, until Blair’s government abolished it. One of my cousins was one of the last to benefit from it.

  2. Private schools used to have scholarship programs for this didn’t they? Now that was a win-win private contract – kid gets better education, school gets a boost to their average marks of graduates by funding some bright but poor to offset the rich but dumb.

    If they were arguing they would take anyone if the State would let the funding travel with the child – a voucher system – well that would be different.

  3. Private schools have scholarship programmes (note, it isn’t computing and we aren’t Yanks).

    They used to have the “Assisted Places Scheme”.

    They have entrance exams. And would keep them, even in a world of vouchers. Hell, I had an entrance ‘exam’ to get in to primary school.

  4. Philip Scott Thomas

    Only half-remembered, but didn’t Uncle Milton devise some sort of voucher scheme for schools which parents could use to fund the school of their choice?

  5. Ouch SE. I don’t get corrected on my spelling or grammar often. But you are right. I’m not a Yank, I’m Aussie. But I am an electronics engineer so I’ll blame that for my lapse.

  6. “…effectively, give them back the tax they’ve paid for the State school system if they’re not using it.”

    Can the same please apply to BUPA and other private medical insurance, then? Can I have my NI back?

  7. Can the same please apply to BUPA and other private medical insurance, then? Can I have my NI back?

    Indeed. The problem with this kind of reasoning is that it’s incompatible with the welfare state; which everyone here probably is happy about, but you really need to have one or the other.

    Also, having for one stage of my education been a poor kid at a posh school, I will say from experience that it is very important to remember that the benefit of being at a public school is not in the merit of the education itself, but in being able to network via oligarchic connections; you are among stockbrokers’ sons, not factory workers’ sons. So if you flood the public schools with poor kids from Gasworks Street, you are destroying their premium service. It is very much a “who you know, not what you know” thing. You can learn arithmetic in a Portakabin classroom. You won’t be sitting next to Tarquin Torking-Downe while you’re doing it, that’s the difference.

    This is of course the whole error with sending everyone to University; university only provides a premium if access is restricted. If everybody goes, there is no premium. A PPE degree (the pinnacle of “education as networking”) is of negligible educational value. The point of pretending to study for one is to be among a class destined for politics, top bureaucratic positions, and so on. The benefit is to sit in a lecture with Cameron on your right and a Miliband on your left; and having just written that I would add that I cannot think of any more horrific imagery.

    It is also extremely hard to see how a nominally private school can retain any level of independence from the State once it is suckling at the teat. Of course, due to the truly bizarre convention that most of these businesses have charitable status, they’re already a long way down that road anyway. So maybe they don’t mind converting to a top tier of the State system.

  8. I will say from experience that it is very important to remember that the benefit of being at a public school is not in the merit of the education itself, but in being able to network via oligarchic connections.

    While your point is reasonable it presumes an unjustified equality in the standards of education at public and state schools (unless you assume that ‘child of wealth’=clever, which I, and I suspect you, would strongly dispute.)

    As was, in fact, deconstructed with statistical detail on this site some time ago, in response to some of the usual drivel from Eoin Clarke.

    There are some very good state schools (but many of those are out of LEA control) and some bad public ones – both are a small minority.

  9. I feel I ought to point out, in defence of the old state sector, that my mother’s continual whine about the fees for my brother and me was that she was paying for a worse education that she got at her grammar school in the 1950s.

  10. SE-

    Having experienced both, my own perception was that the difference is overrated. It is hard to measure educational quality. At the public school, arithmetic/math was about a year or so ahead of the curriculum I joned at the State school, for instance. However, science facilities were very poor (no labs!), we wasted inordinate quantities of time playing sports, and for some reason were required to learn an entirely dead and useless language called Latin

    Marcus ambulat in via

    or some such tripe.

    The public school can filter idiots out via entrance exams, and thus get a better quality of pupil to pass exams. The State system is stuck with all the dregs.

    I think one general point also is that it may not be wise from a general social perspective to siphon off clever kids from the lower classes into the public school system. The problem is that we live in an oligarchy, public school pupils are more strongly destined to join it, and that most oligarchic jobs are of little actual productive value, although they are very highly rewarded (due to being oligarchic). From that perspective, the function of the public school system is to siphon off the best and brightest among us, and make them totally fucking useless.

  11. JuliaM

    No. If you are going to a private school you cannot be attending a state school. However, having BUPA does not end the NHS commitment to treat you. For emergency acute care (A&E) the NHS is always going to trump BUPA.

  12. the difference is overrated.

    It varies. Not around where I lived at the time (I was the other end of town from the good state school.)

    and for some reason were required to learn an entirely dead and useless language called Latin

    “ecce! in pictura est puella, nomine Cornelia. Flavia est puella Romana …” You can still reduce Scots, of the public school or left-footer perspectives, by selected quotes of drivel from the then prescribed textbook series, “Ecce Romani“.

    However, at the time it was still required for some Oxbridge colleges, many medical and some law courses.

  13. One major benefit of private schools is that (like many faith schools) they have manged to keep out the baleful influence of the “educationalists” with their rent seeking, producer capture and social engineering. It is less a matter of wanting to network with Tarquin than trying to ensure you are not stuck in a non streamed class with the local hoodies incapable as well as unwilling to learn anything.

  14. Ian B (#7), I suspect the dilution from the lower classes would be less than you would think.

    It depends on how typical private school fees compare to the voucher value (presumably the average cost of State education).

    I have seen claims that some schools charge something close to State funding levels, but think that’s still a small minority.

    Assuming the voucher is ‘all or nothing’, so the school can’t charge the parents a top-up fee, and most schools charge significantly more, then the schools will only be able to afford to have a minority of voucher-funded places.

    And those places may well go to the children of the poorer, better-educated middle classes. Clergy and so on. As a university lecturer wondering what the hell to do with the children when they grow out of the village school, a voucher that could be used in private schools would be great for me.

  15. It would not need to be a discussion about which is better if it were not for one group getting non-returnable funding without consent, thereby making the barrier to entry to the other that much higher.

    What is worse is the former has a limited supply, almost certainly driven by a combination of its de facto monopoly position and bone-headed, dysfunctional ideology.

  16. @SE

    “Ecce Romani” – Jesus, I’d forgotten all about that but it’s all come flooding back – puer Marcus et al.

    (I’m Scottish but neither a left-footer nor a private schoolboy)

  17. And I got got Cornelia and her mate Flavia (who was less of a stuck up bitch iirc) muddled up.

    It’s dreadful what, hell, 30 years? (30 sodding years and I can still remember it with 80% accuracy. Damn, that’s a mind worm for you!) of booze will do to your memory.

  18. I was a scholarship boy at public school. The education i received (in the mid to late 80’s) was vastly superior to anything on offer in a run-of-the-mill State school. Firstly , it wasn’t the curriculum as such, since we studied to take the same exams as we would have done in the local comp, but that it was taught to such a higher degree of rigour. Most of us took four O-levels early, to clear the decks for AO courses. It was commonplace to take more than ten o/AO-levels (I took thirteen). Days were long, typically from 8.45 to 6pm, with two hours of of prep in the evenings. This provided breadth, and the space to achieve depth. Also we had incredible facilities – dedicated science facilities, language labs, theatres, rehearsal/practice rooms, a 40 thousand volume reading library and an equal-sized reference library, a chapel with a pipe organ, a recording studio, computer labs (networked!), a full complement of workshops, dozens of acres of sports grounds, a golf course, a rifle range, an armoury, a climbing wall, squash courts, tennis courts, all-weather hockey pitches, you name it. But those weren’t the key factors. It was that education was not confined to timetabled hours. We had a teaching body that was willing – delighted – to foster our interests. The extra-curricular activities were out of this world. And that, much more than mere money, was what set it apart. There are such dedicated teachers in the State sector, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

  19. Worth pointing out:
    The majority of the political/media nexus are still privately educated & overwhelmingly,attended university.
    And they are responsible for what you see before you.
    Well done chaps!

  20. Caecilius est pater. Metella est mater. Clemens est servus. Grumio est coquus. Cerberus est canis. Here endeth the first lesson!

  21. Firstly latin was a code that enable you to show you were not a scruff to others of your class.
    Secondly if you didn’t learn things like latin it meant you didn’t go to a ‘spare the rod and spoil the child ‘ school.
    Mark you this was in the late 40s and our school still had bits of its roof missing from WW2.
    Back then education/learning was considered a good thing.
    I can remember a scarred coal miner earnestly telling me to get educated.

  22. . It was commonplace to take more than ten o/AO-levels (I took thirteen).

    Well, I got 10 O Levels at Tumbledown Comprehensive, and that was after not really even revising for any of them, the regrettable effect of which was getting a mere B in Chemistry which Mr Spence never forgave me for and I’ve always felt guilty about letting him down by it. Somehow managed them without a state of the art rifle range or a pipe organ. Dunno how.

    Looking back at the public prep school, the thing that I chafed against was how communist/collectivist it all was. I never bought into the institutionalisation of schooling; not surprising I ended up as a libertarian. I was always very aware that what I was there to learn was that success means subsuming oneself to the system. I remember an incident where some horrid old bint reported some of us to the school for larking about on the bus home and sitting in the headmaster’s office getting a lecture about how “when you are wearing this uniform you are an ambassador for the school” and I was supposed to have pride in that or some such bollocks, and me politely replying that I was no such thing and I had only been wearing the damned thing because I was on my way home to take it off and so far as I was concerned the authority of him and his school ended one inch outside the school gates. Which resulted in significant detention. Not a bad riposte for a 10 year old, looking back.

    Basically, my view was always that any adult who thinks it is rational to demand that a child put themself in the way of a hurtling cricket ball is not to be taken seriously and is probably in need of some form of psychiatric medication.

  23. As a grammar school boy, later a grammar school master, I came to see the benefit of Latin as facilitating the use of the Academic Register: that English using long subordinated sentences ,sometimes with passive verbs,and a lot of vocabulary derived from the classical languages.The ordinary level of GCE was then, and its modern equivalent remains, an entry level qualification ,not in ordinary English but in the language used by academics and professionals:what might be called the language of power.As such, it always struck me as of more immediate use than Maths which was truly academic:Ihave never used any post-primary Maths.The defenders of Maths ,if not autistic,get more precious than even the most soppy poetry lovers,myself included.

  24. BIS-

    Worth pointing out:
    The majority of the political/media nexus are still privately educated & overwhelmingly,attended university.
    And they are responsible for what you see before you.
    Well done chaps!

    Aye. That’s my way of looking at it. I don’t know why so many people are incapable of recognising that, at least in the Anglosphere, our form of socialism/statism is an overwhelmingly bourgeois construction.

  25. Stop this all of you. Quoting ‘Ecce Romani’ is giving me extremely unwelcome flashbacks to my English prep school days. I can only hope that Marcus, Sextus, Flavia et al got slaughtered by invading huns.

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