Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Imbalance of Private School and State School Pupils

Based on article:

There will be three groups of people in this debate - as there always is in any debate, so that statement wasn't very revolutionary. Firstly - the people that hate private schools and what they stand for which is essentially rich families that can buy their way through the education system. Secondly, there will be the people that see no problem in paying for an education if they can afford and want the best. And thirdly, there will be the people that don't give a hoot.

Despite coming from a family with many having attended the prestigious Hutcheson's Grammar School, I fall into the first category. Having said that, I am against the new proposal which would see the exam board penalising private school pupils. But is it really penalising? Or is it, simply, balancing the playing field?

My concrete hatred of private schools stems from not the fact that they achieve better grades; or that their uniform consists of a blazer; or that they are full of "stuck up ferrari comparing yahs" but that these schools after enforcing upon their applicants to sit an exam of a certain standard and level and basing whether that pupil gains entry into the school upon that - they will then boast about having the cleverest pupils in the country. Well.. congratulations. Who would have guessed that by picking the cleverest pupils from a line up, would result in achieving better grades? It's not like a sports captain would be at all surprised if he picked the guy with a limp, the girl with a broken arm and the fat kid with the doughnuts, and thereby lost the match....

It is not only the above that makes me want to bite bricks out of every private school in the country but it is the mannerisms and behaviour of the pupils within these establishments. It's like they get hit with the pompous stick on their first day and receive regular beatings throughout their education when they start to see sense. I have seen first hand the difference it can make on their attitude. When confronting someone:
Me: "Well of course Hutchy has the highest achievement levels, they pick what students they want!"
Someone: "That's not true! They have to let thick people in, as well".

"Thick people"? It's quite hilarious and extremely sickening to hear that this is the way pupils will differentitate people based entirely upon an exam. Some of the smartest people I know don't perform well in exams - does  that make them "thick"? Having said that, I am not implying that such attitudes do not exist in state schools - they exist everywhere but where it exists in such a fundamental divide (such as the ability or non ability to cough up lungs to sell for education every year) then the attitude has a more detrimental effect. Anyway, I digress. DISCLAIMER: I did not kill "someone" but I wanted to. A lot. And time and time again.

Perhaps private schools should first teach their pupils how to socially interact. They charge enough. Or just teach them not to be stuck up farts.

The new system is to essentially balance things up again. With the common but unproven theory that private school pupils are essentially handed everything to them on a silver platter rested on a bed of rose petals; it provides state school pupils that bit of an edge in order to provide a fairer ground for establishing an education.

It seems great, in theory, but where do you draw the line? What about families that can afford to provide extra tutoring for their children? Or buy books for extra work for their children? (poor kid) Or send their kids to extra classes? These are all unbalancing features of the rich/poor divide with regards to education. What can be done about these? Very little, or in fact, nothing. By regulating any of these, is regulating the expenditure of a family which is ridiculous. So what is the difference between hiring a tutor and sending your kid to private school? Not much. Should you penalise someone for having an iPhone over a Nokia 3330? If you can afford it, what's the problem?

It is therefore impractical and unjust to base this penalising system purely on the fact one pupil attends a private school and the other doesn't. It will not be an accurate representation of what is actually happening. It won't provide a comprehensive balancing at all. The factors aforementioned are all relevant to varying degrees and will all have some sort of effect on the achievement of grades.

Nothing can be done of the rich/poor divide in education. Let people do as they please. If a private school education is what people believe will stand them in better stead, so be it but penalising private school students in this way is not going to make things "fairer"; there are too many external considerations which haven't had regard for. What I do advocate is the non comparing of private schools to public schools. They are not comparable. It is acutely unjust to compare them. If the government is so concerned with the possibility of "unfair advantage" to private schools - then why don't they just scrap private schools altogether? While they're at it, why don't they give everyone the same mobile phone, clothes, car and house? I believe that universities, employers etc should make up their own minds regarding the matter instead of arbitrarily enforcing a points system based on what school you attended.

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