Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Don’t Fear The Reaper; Send Your Kids To Private Schools

11th December 2013

Christmas is sadly a wicked time of fear, dread and despair for many. It’s not just for those with inbred hatred and distrust of their own families where reaching for a dinner knife puts everyone on edge, remembering that unfortunate slip when granddad and grandma were eternally parted. It’s not just for the 6.7 million working families who are living in poverty according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Shed not a piteous tear for them this Christmas. Nor for the West Country badger-cullers who failed to meet their government approved kill targets when the badgers, “moved the goalposts,” and, “went underground.”

Public sector workers with their 1% rise might weep when they see the predicted 6% rise in food prices next year alongside the 10% rip off electricity and gas prices increase. They may applaud the decision to award our members of parliament an 11% pay rise if only because it makes it even more clear that MPs are not in “public service.”

Our smug chancellor and his self-congratulatory cronies whooped and Oh yahed (pronounce it ‘yard’) in parliament last Thursday as Baron Osborne declared that he had managed to manipulate a house price boom to give the impression of economic growth whilst we have a massive burgeoning of food banks. To add to the gloom and shame our welfare state now has “social supermarkets” where those on benefits can buy discarded supermarket goods that would otherwise be landfill.

 Let’s not mourn the 24,000 pensioners who died of the cold during the mild winter of 2012 according to the National Office of Statistics. We can beat that record this winter.

 Please do spare many thoughts for those who made a conscious, rational decision to get rid of their kids for as long as possible by sending them to private boarding schools. Surely if you pay 30 grand a year (and the rest) you should expect year-round peace. But, no, the kids return for Christmas.

 Some clarification about private education in England: our private schools are called public schools even though entry is by payment; stranger still they are registered charities for tax purposes. Ex-Prime Minister, John Major finally noticed social inequality, "In every single sphere of British influence, the upper echelons of power in 2013 are held overwhelmingly by the privately educated or the affluent middle class. To me, from my background, I find that truly shocking." The privately educated cabinet ministers chorused an “OK Yah” (that’s ‘yard’ without the‘d’) in delight. Mind you, the grey enigma Major is the only person ever to run away from a circus to become an accountant.

In this Land of Opportunity I admire the successes of our great private schools. They are truly independent. No left wing enemies of promise undermining their drive for standards. No nasty trade unions, no national pay agreement, none of that pesky qualified teachers only stuff. Headmasters can employ whoever they want to do whatever they say. I'd embrace the freedom to pay our staff less but the enemies of promise (wreckers, Trotskyists, vegans and Daily Mail readers) won't let me.

 Unlike our selective and increasingly backdoor selective state schools many private schools don't turn your kids away because they are weakish academically. Given the long history of public schools looking after the dim sons of the inbred inherited nobility many private schools can gratefully give them places, take your money, keep the kids quiet, educate them a bit and exclude them from their exam statistics. There are no league tables of private schools exam results. I know of a school which achieved 101% passes a few years ago. Yippee, let’s go private.

The state system is encouraged by the elfin Gove to lose Drama, Sport and Music whilst public schools love these subjects and anything else that keeps the kids occupied in the long evenings and weekends of boarding school idleness.

The clown Boris Johnson (Eton) says that we are born unequal. He claimed that his chums were born dead clever and the rest of us should know our place as we are not of his calibre. Most prime ministers and cabinet ministers went private much to the delight of the proud “mps” Gove (minor public school in posh talk) and I want our kids to aspire to run the country without needing the inherited wealth of most cabinet ministers – including Cameron, Osborne, and Clegg. Likewise the public spirited judges and barristers. I want our kids to aspire to such wonderful service to their communities.

Many BBC people went to private schools and it obviously helps you get a job there and our kids should be able to aspire to BBC respect, except of course for Savile, Hall and possibly all the other bearded, star-following wannabes from the 60s whose public school bosses knew how to turn a blind eye.

So let us all become private schools. There is no Ofsted inspector blindly belching data. The unNational Curriculum does not apply and we could do what we jolly well want. There are no league tables of GCSE and A level results. Public schools publish what they wish and this allows weaker students to avoid the humiliation of being publicly recorded as a failure and bringing into question the good name of their schools.

 I know where we can get the money, too. To live his dreamworld of inequality Mr Gove pays the new almost empty, unregulated University Technology Colleges twice per student what other state schools get. Around £10,000 per UTC student matches many minor public school day student fees. To make up for the Saturday school attendance – there to stop the boarders rioting but now imbedded to keep the kids away from parents. In return there are the lovely long holidays, which, you may recall was the start of this blog about 700 words ago...

Remember how rarely you got to go out when the kids were young, and babysitters were hard to find, and you couldn't stay out too late? Well send the little blighters to boarding school, and you can go out and forget about them, and have as much to drink as you want without having to explain yourself, wear clothes or keep the noise down. House parents in boarding schools are great babysitters - they don't necessarily have teaching qualifications but they are checked for dodgy pasts, I believe.

And whilst on this subject there is no evidence to suggest that children in boarding schools are any more likely to be sexually abused than if they have served as altar boys in the Catholic Church. No evidence at all, allegedly.

Mind you I went to a catholic grammar school for boys where my form tutor chose to put boys across his knee for a quick spank rather than use the established procedures for a documented beating with a bone shaped piece of leather. You bad, sanctimonious man, Joe Tora.

 And you know how stroppy teenagers can get? Well you don't need to bother about that, look on private school boarding as like being in care without the stigma. Give em enough cash and the school will keep your naughty kids locked up at night. I remember about 8 years ago when the biggest local drug bust was of a student locker in a well-known private school, more drugs than ever seen in a comp. Private schools go better with coke.

Actually the best reason to send your kids to private schools, even the low achieving hippy-rich mickey mouse institutions we have in the shires, is for every fee paying parents to say to their state educated peers: I am better than you. My money is a measure of my worth. I know very well a 14 year old girl who was doing brilliantly at state school. She had firm friends and was involved in all the extra-curricular activities on offer. Mummy wanted the status of private school, granddad paid for the school and the girl was never again to talk to her state school friends. Everything to climb the social ladder at age 11.

It’s not about exam success, either. PISA has a statistical tool for stripping away advantages brought by social advantage or funding levels, so that countries and sectors within countries can be compared fairly. When applied to private and state schools in the UK there is almost no difference in their performance. PISA claim private schools only appear more effective because they are better funded and because they have more advantaged students.

I know to my cost the enormity of the condescension showered on our comprehensive children by teacher-parents of private school kids, doing their social conscience bit with a deficit model of working class achievement that should have been permanently inserted in a manner that would never be forgotten. “Oh, look how well that child sat down today; let’s give him an award; I know children in my child’s private school who can’t sit down that nicely…”

 Returning at an angle to the notion of service the traitorous Cambridge 5 – Philby, Burgess, Mclean, Blunt and possibly John Cairncross were all educated at “good public schools” where they learned so much about service that they repeatedly betrayed their country. Oddly all were members of an elite secret Cambridge University society – the Angels. A bit like the Eton Boys at Oxford.

Cameron, Boris and Osborne were all members of the exclusive Bullingdon Club whose dining exploits perhaps suggest some potty training problems embedded by being away from home too long, too early.

 Andrew Gimson, biographer of the mad-even-then Boris Johnson, reported "I don't think an evening would have ended without a restaurant being trashed and being paid for in full, very often in cash. A night in the cells would be regarded as being par for a Buller man.”

Oh yes, public school will teach you manners. As the short story write Saki said if you truly want a boy to be vicious you have to send him to a good public school. I went to Harrow, by the way, only to get kicked off their football pitches which, even on a Sunday, were not for the likes of me.

Dennis O'Sullivan

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