Important question: why are State Schools such shit?

Privately educated elite continues to take top jobs, finds survey
Privately schooled people still dominate law, politics, medicine and journalism despite signs of progress, says Sutton Trust

Discuss.

60 thoughts on “Important question: why are State Schools such shit?”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    All the Prime Ministers between Macmillan and Blair were State educated. Grammar school graduates all.

    I wonder why.

    State schools are employment rackets for the last powerful Unions in the land. They have nothing to do with education.

  2. Where is the mystery here? So long as it is possible to achieve noticeably better outcomes from paying more for a child’s education there will always be a portion of the population that is willing to pay for private education. If the level of funding in state schools was increased and the cost of providing a demonstrably higher quality of private education rose to £50k a year, there would still be many willing and able to pay. As it is the level of state funding is set at a level where it is quite affordable for many parents to pay what it takes to make a difference to their childrens’ life chances through a private education.

  3. In one word – selection. No matter how good the school or the teachers, a lot depends on the quality of the intake. All it takes is a couple disruptive pupils to drag everyone down to the lowest common denominator.

  4. There is yet another “open letter” being posted by a FB user today, this time to the Education Minister. It is pretty much the same as those “sent” to Jeremy Hunt by the junior doctors and other NHS employees recently. All of these letters contain lists of things which the Minister supposedly doesn’t understand and how disaster is looming under the current policies, but if you suggest to any of those who penned them that the situation is an *inevitable* result of having one’s profession run by the government, they go apeshit. They simply cannot contemplate that anyone other than the government should run this stuff, and then despair that the government is doing things they don’t like and/or without their agreement. They seem to have a child-like hope that one day a benign, enlightened government will come along and run the state organisations exactly as these letter writers want them to. I can’t say I have much sympathy with them, even if they are surely correct in many of their criticisms: if they insist that the government is their paymaster, then they’ve made their own bed.

  5. State schools are staffed by some extremely good teachers and a lot of shite, and it’s hard to get rid of the shite, and the heads and governors have no massive incentive to undergo the enormous grief required to do so.

    Private schools are staffed by some extremely good teachers and some shite, but it’s easier to get rid of the shite, and the heads and governors have a massive incentive to undergo the (relatively) minimal grief required to do so.

    Behaviour is also better, for obvious and similar reasons. And the raw material, in terms of intelligence, is probably better too.

    The greatest tragedy in this country is the way that bright, industrious children in bad state schools are crushed by mediocrity and indifference-verging-on-spite of the system. It remains easier for average kids at good schools to do better than exceptional kids at shit schools, and yet there are no marches on Whitehall, no protests, no demos, and no national media outcry beyond ‘Close down Eton!’

    (As a public school educated ponce who has mixed with plenty of guys from state schools, I can honestly say it has never bothered me remotely where you were ecucated. Can you do the given job? If so, good enough for me. If not, I couldn’t give a shit which school you attended 20+ years ago.)

  6. “State schools are staffed by some extremely good teachers and a lot of shite, and it’s hard to get rid of the shite”

    And the shite get paid the same as the good.

    Whenever I hear teachers moan about how much they are paid I think (I) you insist on what is basically a monopsony and (2) you insist on equal pay scales.

  7. SMFS and Rob hit the nail on the head. Teachers Unions and their (negative) impacts on assessing and incentivising good teachers. Equal pay scales is one of these issues. Bad teachers should be paid much much less than they are currently (or fired…). Good teachers should be rewarded and incentivised.

    Also to anyone who seriously suggests that improving education of the students is aligned with teacher unions demands I have a standard stock example that I like to roll out. When I was in secondary school (left 2009) the senior team were able to sit in on lessons from other teachers and assess how well they did. So far so good. However, the unions had arranged a nice deal where the teachers had to be given a week’s notice before their lesson was assessed. Obviously all this meant was that the really shit teachers put on a half good lesson on the one day they were assessed and then resorted to sitting at their desk twiddling their thumbs for every other day of the year. No one has yet explained to me how that week’s advanced warning benefits students’ education…

  8. In state schools failure is accepted, success is ignored and mediocrity is the norm.

    I went to school in Johannesburg where, if you didn’t attain at least a D in English, Afrikaans, Science and/or Maths, then you were held back and repeated the year. One lad with whom I was at high school was two years ahead of me when I started and a year behind when I left. He was 20 when he eventually matriculated. It may seem cruel but his parents were adamant that he at least left school with a matric certificate. He wasn’t particularly bright but was willing to work hard and was also a double Sprinkbok for swimming and water polo.

    I have yet to see any kids sat at the thick table in English state schools getting held back. They are just shunted up to the next year whether or not they are able to cope. It really doesn’t help them later in life.

  9. Grikath, complete bollocks. It’s who knows you and if that doesn’t work then it’s what you know about whom.

  10. I’ve long thought that the abolition of grammar schools was achieved by an alliance of Baptists and bootleggers.
    The idealistic egalitarian genuinely believed that comprehensive education was better.
    The private schools didn’t like the fact that grammar schools were eating their lunch.
    After all who would pay for a private education if the equivalent was available for free in a grammar school.

  11. Henry,

    So this chap was a spruiking Sprinkbok?

    Seems you could have done with an extra year or two as well?

  12. Politics and journalism have a certain amount of ‘old boy network’ about them.

    But a question I’m constantly asking about this is ‘so what’? If you look at politics and journalism, what’s the average value? How many people try to become MPs (which is hardly rock star earnings) but never get there? How much do they earn for years of being in “research”? It’s like the complaints about posh actors. Of course they’re all posh. They have bigger reserves to burn through than kids from council estates.

    People really need to adjust their thinking on what constitutes a great job today.

  13. The great divide in education is not between private and state, it’s between kids with parents who give a shit and the other poor sods. Not much you can do about that except to remove children from their parents as soon as they’re weaned and have them raised by the state. Even Stalin and Mao might have thought that a step too far.

  14. Grammar schools. Let’s do an experiment. We could take 2 twins, put one through Grammar school, the other through the standard system.

    If the Grammar school child ended up having a good degree, forming his own company a few years later, being an entrepreneur and then becoming the UK’s foremost tax campaigning expert professor, and the other twin became a local radio DJ that observes his own brother has been more successful, we could conclude that grammar schools are a good thing.

    The fact that the more successful twin then advocates scrapping grammar schools for everyone else then just proves he’s actually a cunt.

  15. I’m privately educated. I had private lessons in swimming, piano, Scottish country dancing, and I even once had a lesson from a golf pro. Lots of other people have done much the same. Why does it become wicked only once it’s Maths and English that you get privately? And why is it wicked if you get the lessons during school hours, but perfectly OK if you get them from a tutor in the evening or at weekends?

    The discussion of few issues is accompanied by such heaps of intellectual ordure.

  16. The greatest tragedy in this country is the way that bright, industrious children in bad state schools are crushed by mediocrity and indifference-verging-on-spite of the system.

    This.

    I went from (very minor) public school into a first ‘job’ directly ‘working’ with people who had been failed by the state system. Although I had experience from training and teaching martial arts, it was an eye-opener. 4 months of it certainly kicked any hints of socialism out of me.

    I then went to Officer Basic Training, working with people from all backgrounds who had succeeded. With the very minor difference that those who had just escaped from some of the more Victorian boarding schools coped better with the Victorian accommodation and the random stupidity we were subjected to (and people who had been to uni and worked outside for a while coped least well) there was very little difference.

  17. TheJollyGreenMan, was that remark supposed to make you appear clever? It doesn’t, it makes you look like a cunt.

  18. Chris Miller: “Not much you can do about that except to remove children from their parents as soon as they’re weaned and have them raised by the state. “

    You could stop providing incentives to have kids…

  19. @ SMFS
    I think that if you read a biography of Sir Alec you might find the author disagreeing with you. Also Jim Callaghan’s school was only named as a Grammar school (although it was effectively one) 17 years after he left.
    However, the main thrust of the point you were making is valid.

  20. Because if you’re not paying, you’re the product, not the customer.

    It’s a hackneyed old saw, but there has rarely been a better example.

  21. Pupil-teacher ratios:

    Finnish primary schools: 13
    Finnish secondary schools: 9
    UK state primary schools: 20
    UK state secondary schools: 15
    Eton: 8

    The Finnish experience is that schools can educate any sort of pupil if they have enough good teachers.

    Alternatively, you can succeed with fewer teachers given classes of high-aspiring pupils who have satisfied academic selection criteria. Of course, not every school can be like that.

  22. About a dozen teachers get sacked for incompetence per year. This in a profession of many thousands.

    How do you get id of a crap teacher? Simple, you gently suggest he will do better elsewhere. So you write him a glowing reference and hope.

    And so the crap teachers get recycled from school to school with a disproportionate chance of spoiling the lives of many more pupils.

  23. @ SE
    There are two lots of kids failed by the State system. No 1 son is rather brighter than I so he joined the local branch of the National Association of Gifted Children – well over 90% of the kids had been let down by the state system (there were a small handful with idealistic Mums).

  24. I’m sure we could find examples of countries with larger class sizes yet whose education system pisses all over ours.

    It’s about incentives, reward and removing failures. The current system relies on the teacher being highly motivated for idealistic reasons, because the monetary rewards don’t exist. It’s hard to keep that motivation going when the fat slovenly shit teacher earns the same as you, year after year.

    Seniority is such a shit way of rewarding people. All you have to do is hang on, that’s it. Eventually it will fall in your lap. Why stick your neck out?

  25. Pupil-teacher ratio: my primary school, 45.

    And no bloody rubbish about a Head who didn’t teach, either. He taught a whole class and started his “Heading” after we’d gone home. I dare say he finished by the time we got there. His management team consisted of one secretary and one janitor.

    And it all bloody worked. What an appalling waste of money State Education is nowadays, and what a blight on the lives of the young.

  26. Bloke in France – “Simple, you gently suggest he will do better elsewhere. So you write him a glowing reference and hope.”

    Something along the lines of “some people think he/she isn’t fit to shovel shit. I think he/she is.”

  27. It’s not scientific but I noticed, reading the first volume of Charles Moore’s biography of Thatcher, that most of the MPs he references are public school if Tory and grammar school if Labour. Which suggests the highest offices in the land can be reached by state-educated pupils, just not comprehensively-eduated pupils.

  28. No 1 son is rather brighter than I …

    Hence why my parents, both grammar school, first generation of their family to go to university*, put themselves through considerable financial pain to send my brother and I to the local public day-school.

    Not “first person too” – they are both younger siblings.

  29. I still trip over the differences between grammar, state, public and private in Britain so please forgive my use of US terms.

    Public schools in the US are shit compared to private for several factors.

    Parents who send their children to private schools in general are wealthier and more engaged than those who use public schools. While in school the privately educated simply have more resources available to them because the parents demand it. After school the jobs private school kids will tend to do better because they know the right people.

    Short of a system where all children are taken from their parents at birth and have their individual identities destroyed there is no way to prevent this. As far as I know all attempts to try this have failed.

  30. When i went to school, those who could not or would not keep up after much admonishment were relocated to a different special class or special school. We didn’t have 10 teaching assistants that are needed now that everyone is disabled and everyone must be taught in the same class

  31. My primary schooling in the colonies coincided with the babyboom and rapid urbanisation. We were rigorously streamed by maths ability with fifty pupils in the top set, housed in a prefab that maintained ambient temperature with the weather, and a no nonsense teacher, armed with a ruler. Most productive years of my education. Low pupil teacher ratios and abundant resources are useless without determination to actually teach the varmints something useful.

  32. @Rob:
    “I’m sure we could find examples of countries with larger class sizes yet whose education system pisses all over ours.”

    Hong kong in my experience, and I suspect Singapore too*. Culture is more important. That’s why Grammars did well: kids assessed at 11 as academic are more likely to be the product of a household that values education. 11 year olds know fuck all, and aren’t likely to display startling levels of intelligence: you are simply selecting the ones who know that school is important and they must try hard, which is something imprinted upon them by their families.

    *Dunno why the class size thing is never mentioned in respect of East Asian kids: wrong colour, p’haps? Either that or it’s almost like the teaching unions want more teachers hired.

  33. @SJW. Re: Class sizes etc..

    In the late 1950s my junior school (kids of 7 – 11 years old) had average class sizes of between 40 and 45. It was based in old Victorian buildings situated in a rough area of a midlands town – a few of of my classmates had fathers in gaol – yet I’d doubt that any kid (with the possible exception of the occasional genuinely ESN unfortunate) left the place unable to read, write and count and at least a third of us found our way to the local grammar school.

    There, I was astonished by the tiny class sizes, generally 29 to 32. Of the 90-odd who started at the age of 11, 80 or so went into the 6th form and thence to university, one third to Oxbridge and the majority of the remainder to Russell-Group establishments.

    It’s not about class sizes or the quality of the buildings…

  34. Class size matters, but only if there are discipline issues.

    30 well behaved kids happy to learn, no problem.

    20 ordinary kids with three total ratbags in there, is a different story.

    Britain has itself to blame, socially, for its very poorly behaved youth, which makes its kids hard to teach. This is where Asia wins hands down. They have dull teachers too — it’s just that the kids listen.

  35. @ john square
    “11 year olds know fuck all, and aren’t likely to display startling levels of intelligence:” The old-fashioned phrase “Speak for yourself” (which for LY’s benefit I shall explain means – do not pretend that you are describing our experience/attitudes/intellect (as appropriate) when describing your own) comes instantly to mind.

  36. @John77

    Point taken. I probably should have said: I doubt there’s such a marked difference in 11 year olds base intelligence as to adequately explain the later difference in outcomes suggested by competitive testing at 11. Perhaps it’s a stronger indicator of parental attitudes to education and learning that makes the difference.

  37. @ john square
    OK, that is a reasonable point of view – especially with the “adequately”. I could debate it but see no need to do so.

  38. I dealt with a HB claimant recently – he’d put 13k down on his application over 2 years ago and not bothered to mention that he’d increased his annual earnings to around 34k. He’s now got a huge benefit overpayment to repay at which point he gets through to me for advice on a repayment plan.
    Looking at his I&E form is 6k of private education a year for his 2 children, at a school run by the panel’s favourite peace-loving religion in after state-school hours. So that’s where the money he wasn’t entitled to went.
    Holy mackerel, you have to get that cost down, I said. He went away thinking about taking 1 child out and losing the car.
    I wonder if the official stats between state and fee-paying will close in a few years, unless the compilers control for this type of private education.

  39. So Much For Subtlety

    Social Justice Warrior – “The Finnish experience is that schools can educate any sort of pupil if they have enough good teachers.”

    No. The Finnish experience is that schools can educate White Finnish students if they have enough good teachers plus a whole lot of other things. As Finland becomes more “vibrant” because of their treasonous ruling class, I am willing to bet their schools will start to fail too.

    “Alternatively, you can succeed with fewer teachers given classes of high-aspiring pupils who have satisfied academic selection criteria. Of course, not every school can be like that.”

    Define succeed. We usually insist on success being whatever university-educated middle class people think is success. So anything that does not lead to an English Lit degree is a failure. For a lot of boys I would suggest being forced to remain in the classroom while some d!ck drones on about Shakespeare’s homoerotic tendencies is just as much failure as a bright child who does not get that chance.

    Luckily Finland allows for both as they stream. By Western European standards they stream late – at 16. But stream they do.

  40. So Much For Subtlety

    MC – “Which suggests the highest offices in the land can be reached by state-educated pupils, just not comprehensively-eduated pupils.”

    Damn. That is me out then. On the other hand Winston Churchill went to a very expensive school – and failed his first year. Every year. He spent his whole school career repeating the same year. Until he was “socially promoted” because it looked to odd to have a great big 16 year old in a class of 12 year olds.

    Which proves education is not everything.

  41. I’m sure we could find examples of countries with larger class sizes yet whose education system pisses all over ours
    Not in Europe you can’t.

    The Finnish experience is that schools can educate White Finnish students…
    If you read the article I linked to you’d see that your racist prejudices are not shared by the Finns.

  42. As always, a number of people seem unable to grasp that the comparison is not between grammars and comps but between selective and comprehensive education. It doesn’t matter how good the grammars were, when you added in the results of the sec. mods. comps consistently came out ahead.

  43. Incidentally, holding pupils back is a really bad idea, as a school here found out when a 16 y.o boy ended up in a class with 13 y.o. girls. You have to think these things through.

  44. @ Roue le Jour
    £Millions spent of new buildings for comps, more teachers, better equipment … but the key reasons were (i) an extra year at school for the kids at/who had previously gone to secondary modern when they introduced CSE (Wilson later made it compulsory) and (ii) grade inflation, so you aren’t comparing like-for-like.

  45. So Much For Subtlety

    Social Justice Warrior – “Not in Europe you can’t.”

    But it is true of all of East Asia. Bigger classes, better results.

    “If you read the article I linked to you’d see that your racist prejudices are not shared by the Finns.”

    Actually they are. They dare not explicitly say so, but they associate non-Whiteness with academic failure. So they are implicitly saying. What is more, what do they consider a success with non-Finnish students?

    One of his sixth-grade students, a Kosovo-Albanian boy, had drifted far off the learning grid, resisting his teacher’s best efforts.

    So they have a failing non-Finnish but White child.

    This 13-year-old, Besart Kabashi, received something akin to royal tutoring.

    So he got intense one-to-one tutoring from an excellent teacher. Good for them. With what result?

    Years later, a 20-year-old Besart showed up at Kirkkojarvi’s Christmas party with a bottle of Cognac and a big grin. “You helped me,” he told his former teacher. Besart had opened his own car repair firm and a cleaning company.

    So basically he is doing manual labour. All that education had virtually no effect. He did not get the Muslim boy into university. Not even likely into a selective school. All the personal tutoring in the world seems to have had no positive effect at all.

    This is the reality. You can call the reality racism if you like but it is not going to change because of your refusal to accept that reality.

    Roue le Jour – “It doesn’t matter how good the grammars were, when you added in the results of the sec. mods. comps consistently came out ahead.”

    Evidence? Source? Define results.

    Roue le Jour – “Incidentally, holding pupils back is a really bad idea, as a school here found out when a 16 y.o boy ended up in a class with 13 y.o. girls. You have to think these things through.”

    Actually there are so many things wrong with that it is hard to know where to start. But it is not a problem with holding students back

  46. So Much For Subtlety

    And of course Finnish parents are not as f**king stupid as SJW would believe, or as SJW himself is:

    A recent report by the Academy of Finland warned that some schools in the country’s large cities were becoming more skewed by race and class as affluent, white Finns choose schools with fewer poor, immigrant populations.

    A few years ago, Kallahti principal Timo Heikkinen began noticing that, increasingly, affluent Finnish parents, perhaps worried about the rising number of Somali children at Kallahti, began sending their children to one of two other schools nearby. In response, Heikkinen and his teachers designed new environmental science courses that take advantage of the school’s proximity to the forest. And a new biology lab with 3-D technology allows older students to observe blood flowing inside the human body.

    That is, the official bodies in Finland know that immigration and race are linked to academic failure. So do parents. Who do not want their children educated with Vibrants. The schools have absolutely no solution to this whatsoever.

    That article, as politically correct as it is, shows that SJW is full of sh!t. The reality of race and immigration does not disappear because you really really want it to. The Finns have no solution. Not even if you put on your magic ruby slippers and click them three times.

  47. So Much For Subtlety

    Social Justice Warrior – “Having two businesses at the age of 20 is failure now is it?”

    It is not academic success. It is not something you can teach in school. How many immigrants have their own business? Roughly all of them I would guess.

    It means that school had no significant impact on his life at all. And given this source is so politically correct they must have been told to go out and find a success. They could not find an African success story. They found a mediocre story involving a White student and some unnamed Thai girl.

    Meanwhile, in direct defiance of what you claimed, Finnish parents are getting their children away from the Vibrant Rapefugees as fast as they can.

  48. So Much For Subtlety

    Social Justice Warrior – “Having two businesses at the age of 20 is failure now is it?”

    See what I mean about implicitly agreeing with me? You define success as a Muslim holding down a cleaning job.

    What does that say about what you think most Muslims do?

  49. You people are totally wrong. It has nothing to do with education, or differences in education.

    It has to do with employers. They are idiots. They can’t evaluate people. So they hire people from big name schools. It is a type of certification.

  50. SMFS

    Evidence? Source? Define results.

    The Crowther Report (1959)

    Actually there are so many things wrong with that it is hard to know where to start.

    There is something “wrong” with pointing out things that have actually happened? How does that work?

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