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Lester Burnham

Vince Cable: Send poor pupils to Eton

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The latest from the Lib Dems

BBC NEWS | Politics | Send poor pupils to Eton - Cable

The article is fairly vague.

I'm not against the principle, I think it would be great to even out the educational system. However, surely Academic merit should be involved? And what of people within the bottom 20% (or above for that matter)? Are they not, "poor enough" for financial backing?

Maybe I'm getting the wrong end of the stick. Thoughts?

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I would suggest kids from Tillydrone might struggle to fit in at...Eton! What a load of bollocks. The most expensive public school in Britain would put any conscientious person off of 'social mobility.'

Today's lesson, how to pronounce one's aitches.

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They should be using the taxpayer's money to raise standards in state schools closer to those of private schools such as Eton, rather than engaging in pointless acts of social engineering.
Fuck me Dave, I agree with you. This will not happen often.

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They should be using the taxpayer's money to raise standards in state schools closer to those of private schools such as Eton, rather than engaging in pointless acts of social engineering.

Seconded.

It sounds incredibly flawed to me.

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Maybe they should simply get rid of schools altogether?

I'm no longer convinced that instutional education offers any advantages at all anymore.

School education is always going to be important. Some aspects/subjects provided by a University education don't offer the same kind of advantage any more.

How best to tackle the growing problem of impoverished children not achieving? Personally I don't think spending large amounts of money sending a few kids to private schools down in England is a great way of tackling a huge social problem. It is definitely ingrained into some sections of society that sponging off the state is the only option for them.

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School education is always going to be important.

It is definitely ingrained into some sections of society that sponging off the state is the only option for them.

Not convinced - I worked in schools for quite some time & the amount of kids failing to thrive/falling through the cracks worried me a lot. As for socialisation, I saw much better examples in kids educated out of mainstream education - had over 1200 of them shoved on to our books at one point, the council seriously disliked any parent pursuing alternatives.

Schools play their part in that as well - Certainly where I went, it was either leave at 16 for a dead-end job, the dole or for the lucky few a trade apprenticeship. Going into further education was right-up there with the much vaunted jackpot-job for the other kids - being picked-up by a team as a professional footballer. The turn-out when the team scouts were about was amazing, although the chance of even getting a trial was miniscule. I later ended-up working with that school for a while & it was depressing how little had changed.

I do agree however that sending a token number to private schools is a joke. With only a few notable exceptions (Eton being one certainly) private schools consistantly underperform the state sector by a considerable margin.

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Not convinced - I worked in schools for quite some time & the amount of kids failing to thrive/falling through the cracks worried me a lot. As for socialisation, I saw much better examples in kids educated out of mainstream education - had over 1200 of them shoved on to our books at one point, the council seriously disliked any parent pursuing alternatives.

Schools play their part in that as well - Certainly where I went, it was either leave at 16 for a dead-end job, the dole or for the lucky few a trade apprenticeship. Going into further education was right-up there with the much vaunted jackpot-job for the other kids - being picked-up by a team as a professional footballer. The turn-out when the team scouts were about was amazing, although the chance of even getting a trial was miniscule. I later ended-up working with that school for a while & it was depressing how little had changed.

I do agree however that sending a token number to private schools is a joke. With only a few notable exceptions (Eton being one certainly) private schools consistantly underperform the state sector by a considerable margin.

So what would you replace schools with? What are the alternatives that give better results? I know of home schooling ... but that requires parents/tutors with the time and ability to help.

Is it possible that there were too many students to staff in the school you worked at? I can imagine that individual needs could get over looked for a more general approach if this were the case. Equally there might be little or no support at home. If parents don't have the skills or desire to give their children the type of support they need then the inevitable will happen. Could it be that parents need support or education as much as their children?

I say keep schools, invest in supporting communities in ways that they genuinely need it, pay for this instead of nuclear weapons. Government needs to provide this support as a priority in order to raise the bottom standards of living to an acceptable level. This could mean that we don't have to spend so much money on prisons in the future.

School environment is really just a minuature version of the larger community it supports and shows how social issues directly effect the potential of children (there are obviously exceptions as you mentioned). I think the real issues are wide ranging and have built up over such a long time that it is hard to see exactly where the roots are but my argument is that most problem issues are out with schools. How much can a school be expected to acheive with its current remit. If there is no support at home and within communities then you can't expect anything less than kids dropping out at an early age with very few options more appealing than the dole.

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I'm pretty sure that's not true.. What do you mean exactly?

It is very true - With only a few exceptions at the very top of the tree, even with merciless selection, most struggle to equal an average city comp & till recently, they assessed & graded themselves to a much lower standard than state schools (hence the often grandiose but empty claims about academic performance). However, this is slowly rectifying itself, although I don't see many advertising their HMI grades yet.

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So what would you replace schools with?

I know of home schooling ... but that requires parents/tutors with the time and ability to help.

Is it possible that there were too many students to staff in the school you worked at?

Could it be that parents need support or education as much as their children?

I say keep schools, invest in supporting communities in ways that they genuinely need it, uture.

School environment is really just a minuature version of the larger community it supports and shows how social issues directly effect the potential of children

You presume there are schools to replace? I've had dealings with education depts who were so far off the mark with their legal, educational & moral responsabilities (to both pupils & staff) that I'd question if what we have now could be properly described as education. Versatility would be the key - find the best enviroment for the kid to learn in. Or not if that is the case. In my current job, I'm often pleased to see someone who was remaindered as a dead-loss back then, returning to to education when they are properly ready to learn & doing very well.

Possible - Overcrowding plays its part certainly but I'd be wary about latching on to something as simplistic as that for an answer. Saw all sorts of class sizes with differing results - I worked across a group of schools & later was loaned-out to some of the best & worst across Scotland & frankly, only a few garnered much respect.

Certainly, parents need to be got on-side & that was often a very big part of the problems with many of the the kids I worked with.

Communities can be a double-edged sword. In principle, yes I agree that much more should be done to involve them but equally, I've seen schools/school management with strong community links who were shit-scared to do anything that might upset the local apple cart & ended up making decisions that reflected local hearsay/issues/politics better than the educational/social needs of their kids.

Don't agree at all. Schools are amongst the most artificial, petty & narrow-minded environments out there. Education has always been about stretching horizons to me, not hemming them in.

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That's not possible with Higher exams, everyone sits the same one.

Has nothing to do with higher results.

The ISI & HMI inspectorates were two different bodies with different standards who only started singing from the same hymn sheet in the last few years. So yes, it is quite possible.

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Has nothing to do with higher results.

The ISI & HMI inspectorates were two different bodies with different standards who only started singing from the same hymn sheet in the last few years. So yes, it is quite possible.

Have you just exposed the biggest scam in the history of education?

I feel you're suggesting that the higher standard of teaching in public schools has no impact on exam performance (a ridiculous view, if this is indeed what you are saying), yet also criticising the low standard you've come across in state schools? There is simply no reason why public schools with their money, pushy parents, high-flying teachers and extra-curricular activities would achieve lower grades.

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You can't get rid of schools without a viable and fundable alternative.

Scottish education, from my experience, is pretty good. But then my parents were able to support me and gave me good discipline.

Does what you were doing have a job title... was it a specialised teaching role or supporting teachers or kids having difficulties? What are you doing in Higher Education and how do you think it compares with school education? I'm fully aware that there are problems with the education system, teachers having too much paper work, possibly forced into "league table" orientated teaching rather than having some degree of flexibility. No real powers to control children who are out of control, poor pay for level of social responsibility ....

These problems have more to do with the people controlling the direction of education and the purse strings rather than principle of schools.

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Have you just exposed the biggest scam in the history of education?

I feel you're suggesting that the higher standard of teaching in public schools has no impact on exam performance (a ridiculous view, if this is indeed what you are saying),

Hardly! The discrepancy between the way public schools inspected themselves & the higher standards in the state sector was the main reason they got pulled into line. The number of public schools actually inspected since then was pretty low, the last time I looked anyway.

Either way, I have less of a problem with the way the state inspectorate conducted themselves - they tended to be drawn from some of the most professional, experienced & respected educators out there & were never slow to pick-up on the failings of any establishment under inspection.

Judging a school's performance solely by its exam results is an exceptionally poor measure. Especially where state/private comparisons are concerned - for a whole lot of reasons, selectivity & relative aspirations to begin with. Chalk & cheese.

As for the standard of teaching being better in public schools, nope - most struggle to meet even very average state levels (& even though I have plenty of grumbles about that, I do accept it is better than nothing) & don't bank on them being any better funded either. Apart from at the very top of the pile. In fact the reason many private schools specialise is because they cannot hope to provide the same level of investment over the broader curriculum. Remember that the big-name schools, Eton, Harrow & the like are not very representative of the bulk of the private sector.

Another thing that really pissed me off about public schools was the way they weeded-out many potentially underperforming kids before examination & dumped them back on the state system - another pretty brutal way of keeping the results good. Saw any number of them in my time in schools n'all. :(

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You can't get rid of schools without a viable and fundable alternative.

Scottish education, from my experience, is pretty good. But then my parents were able to support me and gave me good discipline.

Does what you were doing have a job title... was it a specialised teaching role or supporting teachers or kids having difficulties?

These problems have more to do with the people controlling the direction of education and the purse strings rather than principle of schools.

You like what you are used to maybe? Personally, conventional schooling was quite happy to remainder me as dyslexic & a close-personal relation of the antichrist. It took a solicitor, a lot of bloody mindedness & several years of non-mainstream education to get back into one. I don't think it was ultimately worth it & believe me, eventually coming to work in schools was something that never sat easy! :D

I held a variety of jobs/roles over several years. Starting with course development work for the changes then in progress, after that I branched into educational/behavioural problems in kids & eventually that role was expanded to include teacher training & support in-class. I'm in a more specialised job in higher ed now but again, that has begun to broaden in the last couple of years. If there is anything puts unis above schools, IMO it is the issue of choice & diversity of approaches to teaching.

I'd agree Scottish education was good for its time & has a good foundation but I have issues with its compulsion & the one-size approach that has dominated for the last century. I'd also completely disagree that school is the only viable way to educate a child. What we have today is as much a historic device to satisfy the demands of employers & an economic system now gone & to validate the state funding of the university system as anything that had needs of the child at heart.

ETA. Fully agree that many of the folk directing education have lost the place. To the point where they have utterly lost touch with what they are required to provide.

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Well, I'm just going on the evidence of a couple of people I know. One went to Hutchesons where 30% of the year got 5 A's and the teachers were generally charismatic sorts, several of which were published authors, the headmaster had once edited a major newspaper etc etc..

The reason I use Highers is because they are an external exam, so I don't see why they can't be a reasonable indicator of school performance.

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Hutchesons - Maybe a good example of what I mean. It has recently been under fire for making misleading comparisons (& even internal ones) on its educational standards whilst the change in evaluation methods have seen it drop from virtually the top spot in Scotland to a still creditable but much lower place in the league tables.

Never mind the (possibly not unconnected) issues of poor staff performance & morale as well.

The problem with Highers is that although external, they are by no means a universal qualification & there are many pupils who will have no need of nor desire to sit them, so any comparison with less/differently aspirational establishments (which may still be educationally excellent in other ways) becomes highly skewed.

There is also a whole lot more to an education than simply gaining a sheaf of exams.

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they are by no means a universal qualification & there are many pupils who will have no need of nor desire to sit them

What else do people in Scotland gain entry into University through, bar the odd crank sitting A levels?

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I hate to bring another debate into play, but as a nation(s) do we under appreciate the education we are provided with? I think that we really dont understand how lucky we are.

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