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So called left wingers who pay school fees

(160 Posts)
baNANA Mon 13-Aug-12 08:14:32

Apropos of reading an article in the Sunday Times titled "When is it right to put family ahead of principle?" Am I being unreasonable to be annoyed by people who align themselves with the left such as Polly Toynbee, and who according to this article has urged the Labour party to be more left wing, and yet has sent 2 of her 3 children to Bedales an extremely expensive and private boarding school. The article also goes on to mention other writers and editors on the Guardian who have opted for the private route. For me, if you subscribe to being a socialist, I would assume that one of the things you would want is a more egalitarian society, however seemingly for some they don't want to put their "because they're worth it children" out into a level playing field but give them that all important leg up in life. Will Self did actually try out a state primary for his son but removed him at the age of 10 as he felt he was not being properly educated and commented that he was "not prepared to sacrifice him on the altar of his own ideals" Fine for him, what about the people who don't have that choice. Journalists and public figures have a certain amount of influence and that influence could be used to raise standards. It just seems to me to be rank hypocrisy. I would like to add that I'm not having a go at a) People of the left or b) People who send their children to private schools, only the two together.

Mishap Mon 13-Aug-12 09:06:10

I don't have a problem with them doing this - we all have to do the best we can for our own children. If you are faced with a rubbish local state school or a child with particular needs that cannot be met elsewhere, then you do what is right for your child.

These left-wing intelligentsia can still fight for better state education, and they often do, as clearly this is what is needed - excellent state schools so the issue simply does not arise. They still hold to the principles of excellent state education for all - the fact that it does not exist is necessarily their fault (unless they happen to be the sec of state for education).

whenim64 Mon 13-Aug-12 09:07:08

I agree with you baNANA. The money that goes into private education creams off the best of education for a fortunate few instead of the many who need it. My grandson went to prep school, and that sat uncomfortably for me, as he was in a class of 6, whereas other children are in classes of 30 and more. Prep school didn't prepare him for grammar school where he has to compete to be heard, and struggled before he learned that he has to take some responsibility for ensuring he knows what his homework is, and that no-one will chase after him if he forgets anything.

I get fed up with the champagne socialists who don't practise what they preach. Diane Abbot really blew it for me when she proclaimed that white people divide and rule by privilege, criticised Blair and Harman for sending their children to private schools, and then did the very same thing.

Joan Mon 13-Aug-12 09:28:23

I am of the Left, but sent my lads to a local catholic school and then high school. Mind you, these schools are hardly elitist, with low fees or no fees if you can't afford. The local state school was appalling and the state premier was imposing his own ideals on the state education system and these were fundamentalist 'christian' ideals. For instance, they were talking about teaching creationism (it got blocked I'm glad to say), and they were refusing to consider sex education.

The catholic schools taught hard science and age appropriate sex education.

I would never have sent them to a snob school, but I plead guilty to giving then the best education I could - at schools that did not go against my principles..

baNANA Mon 13-Aug-12 09:41:36

Mishap "excellent state education for all", but just not for them. We had 13 years of Labour remember the Blair mantra "education, education, education" under their watch standards have fallen we have slipped down the world league tables for literacy, maths and science. Meanwhile private schools continue to dominate the intakes for the elite universities. Medicine, law, journalism, top civil servants etc. all have high percentages of the privately educated amongst their masses. Given that the private sector is supposed to account for about 7% of schools I'd say that they are massively over represented in the higher echelons of our society, how can we expect to change anything when so called socialists subscribe to maintaining this status quo. Yeah there are loads of rubbish state schools shouldn't they be trying to change that from within. When I'm 64, totally agree with you about Diane Abbot who used the race card to justify her decision when in fact her son, having a mother as an MP and Cambridge graduate and I believe an architect for a father would I'm sure have ended up at university, perhaps not Oxford where I believe he is at the moment. Class is a greater divider than race in our country and there will always be those who are disenfranchised by their unfortunate family circumstances and who don't have a mother like Diane Abbot to fight their corner. This is further compounded by being sent to a sink school, how can we expect to improve the lot for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds when we operate like this. When my children were young I was friendly with a young German mother she often used to say that she felt that many of the mothers we were mixing with were obsessed with private education and talked about schools endlessly compared to Germany where they don't seem to suffer from the private versus state dilemma as I understand that German state schools offer an excellent education for all.

baNANA Mon 13-Aug-12 09:51:23

Whenim64, do agree with you, but should point out that the Blair and Harman offspring weren't at private schools, they are state schools, nevertheless very good ones. My husband's grandchildren from his lst marriage are at a couple of them, they are very strict but I understand that one of these schools in particular takes 25% of its intake from poorer backgrounds they are nevertheless very over subscribed and you do have to prove chapter and verse that you are a practising Catholic. In the case of St Olave's where I believe one of the Harman children went it's a selective grammar, which I also thought they didn't approve of.

Lilygran Mon 13-Aug-12 09:56:38

Many of these champagne socialists have no personal experience of state schools and no background which would allow them to make sensible judgments about them. If they were really committed to the improvement of state education, They would send their children to a local school and become involved in the PTA or as governors or just as supportive parents. With the kind of influence they can bring to bear, they could do a lot more than they do by pontificating in the media.

baNANA Mon 13-Aug-12 10:00:30

Lilygran - Exactly!

Mishap Mon 13-Aug-12 10:01:01

baNANA says: " shouldn't they be trying to change that from within?" - and my answer would be "No, not if it is at the expense of their child's well-being." You are then using your child as a political tool. Your child needs your protection and 100% support, not being made to suffer for some high-flown principle that they do not understand.

"German state schools offer an excellent education for all." - that is what we need, but do not have.

I too deplore the need for private schools, but until government gets its act together and creates an excellent state system, then they will be there.

I too am sad that many children get a bad education in a sink school with no money to bail them out of it, but as a society we need well-educated young people and if the state sector is not providing what is necessary, then people will move heaven and earth to do the best for their own children.

Do not forget that at the same time as paying school fees, they are also paying taxes to support state schools - I believe that they should also be lobbying for better state education - they are often intelligent well-educated parents and in a good position to do that.

Blair's education mantra gained us nothing.

If I saw my child suffering in a school I would not sacrifice their well-being for my political principles, much though I might regret the need to seek private education. What is gained by one more miserable ill-educated child? - does it help the other children one whit? - I don't think so.

The argument about creaming off the brightest (which makes logical sense) doesn't cut any ice when you have a weepy child on your hands and the whole family is miserable - been there, done that!

Lilygran Mon 13-Aug-12 10:09:33

Mishap - When sacrificing your children to your principles is mentioned, what exactly do they mean? Putting their own children through a process which the vast majority of children in this country go through? Some sacrifice!

baNANA Mon 13-Aug-12 10:12:22

I don't condemn anyone for opting for private education if they don't have any other choice, I would do the same, but then I don't regard myself as leaning to the left and tied up in never ending knots!

Lilygran Mon 13-Aug-12 10:13:41

Much more fundamental than the hypocrisy is the implication that while it's OK for your kids to go to the local comp and take their chances, OUR kids are altogether too important (as we are). Us and them in a nutshell!

baNANA Mon 13-Aug-12 10:15:03

Lilygran it's a case of "don't do as I do, do as I say" very convenient there's always a get out clause if you have the money!

nightowl Mon 13-Aug-12 10:18:16

Whilst I agree totally with the notion that a socialist or person of left wing ideals could not possibly send their child to a private school, I do not agree that these politicians are being hypocritical for the simple reason that they are neither socialist nor left wing, simply carrer politicians like all the rest. I thought MPs from the 'New' Labour party had been banned from using those terms ever again! wink

nightowl Mon 13-Aug-12 10:19:25

And I forgot to add angry

petallus Mon 13-Aug-12 10:20:09

I do so agree baNANA and what drives me into a frenzy is when these so called socialists write about all the agonized soul-searching they went through in trying to decide whether or not to send their children to a fee-paying school (and of course they always end up doing so).

Are we supposed to feel sorry for them?

I almost prefer the straightforward conservative approach; at least they aren't hypocrites.

baNANA Mon 13-Aug-12 10:26:42

Petallus I agree with you, particularly last paragraph and also like Lilygran's comment "our kids are all too important as indeed we are" Sorry, for me, calling yourself a socialist and educating your kids privately do not marry up they are a contradiction.

whenim64 Mon 13-Aug-12 10:30:35

You've got a point there nightowl

Mishap Mon 13-Aug-12 10:32:20

Sadly Lilygran, that is exactly what it does mean - there are some abysmal schools out there. Just because someone might not want that for their child does not mean that they do not care about the children who are getting a crap education.

And many people who send their children to private schools can barely afford it - they make huge sacrifices to give their children what they see as the best. They are not all landed gentry!

There are of course also some excellent state schools - which is why people move house, go to church when they don't believe, lie through their teeth etc.

In a funny way I admire high profile left-wingers who take this decision for their child, knowing the flak they will take. But it does leave them with a responsibility to use their influence to improve the state education system - if they do not do that then my admiration wanes somewhat!

Anagram Mon 13-Aug-12 10:37:12

I don't think a lot of them care about the flak - they've justified their actions to themselves, and anyway, they don't live in the same world as we do.

Lilygran Mon 13-Aug-12 10:42:23

Agreed there are some struggling schools but I would be surprised to hear that many of these individuals had to live in an area where they have no decent schools!

nanaej Mon 13-Aug-12 11:37:01

I am a socialist, as are my close group of friends. All our kids went to local primary and secondary schools in South London. All have done OK and are graduates, employed and most now settled with families.
When I sent my girls to the nearest middle school my neighbours were horrified I had not sent them to the 'popular' and more 'middle class' school.
DH & I taught in schools in poor socio economic areas and knew one of the the ways to change the perception of schools is to have a better socio economic mix. If we wanted it for the schools where we worked we had to do the same for our local we 'sacrificed' our kids for our ideals. They do not seem to have suffered too much!

Mamie Mon 13-Aug-12 11:40:55

Seems a bit late in the day to get het up about the schools attended by Polly Toynbee's children; they must be well in their forties by now.

Lilygran Mon 13-Aug-12 11:42:07

Nanaej wine to you!

Lilygran Mon 13-Aug-12 11:46:56

True, Mamie, but she has an influence and it's that we ought to be trying to combat. More so if she is basing her pernicious and destructive views on state schools on the opinions she formed 30 years ago!