Middle class people do middle class things

Terrible, innit?

He said a large proportion of bursaries were handed out to the “squeezed middle” – children of doctors, lawyers and owners of small businesses – who can no longer afford to pay fees in full.

“The majority of means tested bursaries will be topping up the squeezed middle who can’t afford £40,000-a-year fees,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“We are going back to the demographic profile that used to send their children to the local independent schools when I started in teaching – local solicitors, GPs, people who run family businesses, local farmers, people in the armed forces from the rank of, say, major upwards – the middle classes. They are being squeezed out of private education because of affordability.”

How appalling.

24 thoughts on “Middle class people do middle class things”

  1. I guess it depends what he means by a broad social mix. As top public schools are increasingly taken over by wealthy foreigners and the upper-middle (who can afford those eye-watering fees), our native middle class are obliged to ask for help. That sprogs from the bottom 20pct should leapfrog 60pct of the demographic seems a tad unfair.

  2. It would be weird to only have people from the very bottom and very top. But to claim to be truly “charitable” (particularly the way the the law has redefined that) it wouldn’t hurt to give some full bursaries out. With fees this high, a partial bursary is effectively useless even to the lower middle, let alone the working class. Bernie makes some good points above.

  3. The “squeezed middle”. How sad, can’t pay the eye watering fees anymore. Funny how the market is perfectly fine when they are selling their house for silly money but not so fine when it comes to paying for private education.

  4. Some of those jobs have slid down the social order. Being a reasonably ranked guy in the army, farmer or a solicitor was a very big deal 30 years ago. Solicitors still make a good living, but it’s not the prestige job it once was.

    A major in the army earning £55K isn’t going to spend £36K on school feels per year, though.

  5. Those prices are for full boarding. Day schools are about half that. My old school’s day fees are a tad under £20k now.

  6. @BoM4

    Right, and you don’t need to go back many generations to reach the point being a solicitor meant you could run a big household with a team of servants and cooks. That’s partly about a drop in prestige but also about the rising relative cost of labour-intensive services vs manufactured products (Baumol etc), which would affect education too.

    I wonder about the major and to some extent the solicitor. In the distant past, how much of their wealth would have related to their rank and pay, versus the fact they would have been the sort of person to have had capital behind them anyway?

  7. @Rob…The squeezed middle.

    My wife’s two brothers are both plain-vanilla sparkies – electricians. Both sent their kids to a public school at some considerable sacrifice and cost to their own standard of living. The majority of my neighbours also send their children to private schools. It’s a significant financial strain, but I don’t hear any of them complain about the taxes they’re obliged to pay to educate other people’s sprogs.

  8. Of course its easier to help people who can’t quite afford it but can make a significant contribution.

    So now they want 10m for some lucky few to get a free education at an elite school like Stowe. I don’t see a problem so long as they are the elite of the poor. The worry is the criteria that must come after the means test, because ,however low its set, they’ll be more than enough that pass it. So to whittle it down to that lucky few are they going to use competitive exam to have some version of the king’s scholars or racial/ethnic/cultural zeitgeist criteria to maximise virtue?

  9. It’s hysterical, isn’t it? Middle classes never gave a shit about globalization when it was cheap goods from China and cheap blue collar services from eastern Europe pushing down the wages of the proles.

    Now Crazy Rich Asians are pushing up the school fees, Something Must Be Done.

    Looking forward to banking, legal and medical services being widespread on-line from Lahore and Jakarta. Although I’m sure they’ll put a stop to that pretty quick.

  10. Strange definition of ‘middle class’. Private school is where posh people send their sprogs.

    And what’s the stats? 5% of children go to private schools? Certainly when I was doing Schools Admissions we had one private secondary to 30 state secondaries in our area.

  11. jgh,

    I’ve never considered ‘middle class’ to be the mid range of the population. Rather, traditionally, a smallish percentage of the population made of professionals and business owners that sit inbetween (i.e. in the ‘middle’ of) the working class (vast majority) and the upper class (landed gentry and aristos).

  12. “I wonder about the major and to some extent the solicitor. In the distant past, how much of their wealth would have related to their rank and pay, versus the fact they would have been the sort of person to have had capital behind them anyway?”

    Probably right about the majors, but being a solicitor was a rare and valuable skill. What stopped it being so was that women were attracted by it from around the mid-90s and ever since it’s been saturated.

  13. DJ…

    When I started out years ago there appeared to be a tiny percentage of ‘rich’ people and a relatively limited number of what could be termed the underclass. The majority of the population could be divided 20pct/80pct as middle/working class (my guess). I don’t know what the split is these days, but suspect there are far more middle class people and a lot less working class (all though many of the former identify as the latter out of tribal loyalty).

  14. This is a market in operation. If there are enough people who can’t afford 40k, schools will spring up who can do it for less. Won’t they? If not, it’s because your market isn’t free.

  15. ‘A useful definition of the middle classes is “those most dependent on the state”’.

    No: there are two middle classes. You’ve mentioned only one of them.

  16. rhoda klapp said:
    “This is a market in operation. If there are enough people who can’t afford 40k, schools will spring up who can do it for less. Won’t they? If not, it’s because your market isn’t free.”

    I’ve wondered for a while why there aren’t more low-fee private schools starting up. Every now and then there’s a report of one about to be formed, but nothing much ever seems to happen.

    Is it because it really is expensive? (I wouldn’t have thought so; what would be interesting would be a school that charges about the same as a state school gets, but gives a better education because of selection)

    Barriers to entry? I could believe that – getting OFSTED approval or whatever private schools need is probably difficult.

    Is it that there isn’t a sufficient market? I suppose a lot of the target market are gaming the current system (catchment areas, grammars, etc.); you’d need places where the state schools were all grim but there were enough middle-class people willing to pay.

    Or do they just prefer their holidays to Tuscany these days? Is part of the problem the collapse of middle-class virtues?

  17. @ Bernie G
    The Blair ambition of 50% going to “University” (including some re-named Polys and Technical Colleges” means that over 50% of the millennials are “Middle class”.
    The stupidity of training 50+% of youth to be “middle-class” when you cannot have 50+% of jobs being middle-class is worrying to most people – and frightening to those of us who note that the civil wars in Sri Lanka grew out of the vast numbers of unemployed graduates post-independence as a disproprtionate of the universities in the Raj were in Ceylon and post-independence the under-graduates did not (to any significant extent) come from mainland India nor did the graduates (to ant significant extent) find jobs in mainland India. It is creating a pseudo-intellectual lumpenproletariat for the Marxists to exploit.

  18. Hi, Tim
    Do you remember your youth? In mine the majority of *Open* scholarships to Public Schools were won by children of middle-class parents who could not afford the full fees. My school had far more means-tested bursaries than open scholarships but many of these went to children of teachers who were middle-class but not highly-paid (you mentioned re Carlos Ghosn that status rewards offset the lack of money rewards but they don’t pay school fees) and tended to have intelligent children.
    Stowe was over-priced even then so I am not surprised that the old-fashioned middle-class cannot afford their fees,

  19. @dearieme
    The professional & managerial classes don’t depend on the regulatory capture the State enables?

  20. it seems from the comments that the middle class is disapproved of/ disliked.
    It used to be that education was sort of for the greater good of the population in general. (not indoctrination).
    Back in 1951ish I got a state scholarship (to my surprise)
    so no cost to parents. Not much benefit to what was once Britain as I migrated in 1961

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