Monday, September 24, 2007

Ban private schools

Perhaps its time to revisit the debate on banning private schools. To get things started, here's an article by Will Hutton in yesterdays Observer.

Hutton cites new research by the Sutton Trust revealing a third of all admission to Oxbridge came from 100 schools, all but two of which are private.

In particular, the top private schools did massively better than their exam results should predict.

This social stratification is now hardening.

Of course, Hutton is not recommending banning private schools. But I am... if you want to know why scroll down banning private schools.

8 comments:

Joe Otten said...

Still not convinced of this.

Why not ban interviews and require places to be offered on the basis of exam results (not predicted grades) alone? The exams might have to be made a bit harder, or the grades subdivided.

What is it that these schools are doing, anyway? Shouldn't we do some research? Perhaps they are teaching some things better, and the state sector should copy them.

Is it largely that they are selective? Aren't there quite a few "minor" public schools that do badly on Oxbridge admissions - and a few state schools that do well?

And do they tend to have a brighter intake, in which case perhaps they are not performing any better than state schools, anyway?

Perhaps the unfair advantage is a gift of the parents, not of the school.

Of course the system is loaded against the disadvantaged, and of course something should be done about it. Still, the sort of statistics we hear are usually pretty meaningless.

And why is everybody determined to oversimplify Rawls these days?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately those who are in a position to change the system are mostly comprised of those who have used this very system to get where they are. Do you realistically see them giving up that advantage at their own kids expense? The class system today is much the same as it has always been. The poor serve the rich. We have the illusion of greater freedom today but not much else has changed. Monay is the means by which power is dispenced.

For example, assume that rich kid has an idea for a business. Assume also that poor kid has the same idea at the same time. Assume lastly that they are both equally dedicated to starting this business. Whom do you think will succeed?

Where does the poor kid get his starting capital?
What contacts in the business world is the poor kid likely to have?
To whom is the bank most likely going to loan money to given that poor kid has no collateral and no guarantor.

Factors like these do not guarantee success or failure but they exert a great influence.
A simple business maxim:
It takes money to make money.
So what do you do when you start off with nothing?

Equality is a great idea but most of us will never be able to afford it.

I know this is a little off topic but isn't the monarcy (I am speaking of Britain here) the perfect example of everything that is wrong with the system. A few individuals are given a life of wealth and privilege based on nothing but who their parents were.

What is laughable are the legions of poor people who line up to watch them pass. I can't help but think thats a little pathetic. How can the system change when those on the losing end come out and wave flags in support of it?

Hugo Hadlow said...

"but all received far fewer Oxbridge offers of places. As interesting, Oxbridge admission dons seemed similarly biased against some private schools, with Rugby, Roedean and Hampton, for example, receiving fewer offers than they should."
"far fewer"? Does that mean statistically significant? I doubt it. The article is pretty useless: I need more information. I wish newspapers linked to primary sources: it would make them much more honest. The Sutton Trust report doesn't interest me. I can't find the one by Simon Briscoe.

"And do they tend to have a brighter intake?"
Yes, we can't discount this. Is there any research on average IQ in state and private schools (which wouldn't be affected by the standard of the school)?

"Private schools are going to have to show that they demonstrate public benefit to retain their charitable status"
http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/index.php/blog/individual/private_schools_and_public_benefit/

(Even if convinced by Stephen's arguments, that would be no reason in itself to change the university admissions system: even if a university admitted on grounds of A-levels, which reflected schooling rather than IQ/"native wit", the thing to change would be the schooling system, not the admissions process. (Yes, I am aware that the point of the article was that the admissions system didn't even seem to take into account A-levels!))



The article was pretty ridiculous in parts:
"suffer potential social isolation at public-school dominated Oxbridge" - can't say I've noticed any.

"Why put up with being excluded from Oxford's ludicrous private dining clubs" - I doubt anyone "excluded" worries that much. The Guardian is funny.

Hugo Hadlow said...

It seems to me the moral aspect is simply: should we pass on benefits to our children. Stephen, earlier I queried whether you would support a 100% inheritance tax.
What about parents teaching their children anything outside school? Would these children would have an unfair advantage?
At first glance it might seem that this is not unfair advantage because all parents are able to teach their children things at home in their free time, whereas not all parents can afford to send their children to private school. But actually it is unfair advantage because some parents don't know as many things to teach their children as other parents do.

Or is it?
Should the government ban all learning outside of school?

Bill Smith said...

I believe, and would be willing to challenge anyone, that individual liberty is infringed upon in if private schools were to be banned. In my opinion, the premis that private schools are to be banned is a form of tyranny, a complete infringement of ones freedom to choose. Such decision would render too much unwarrented power in the hands of the state giving it the authority to control the minds of its citizens at its will. This control can come in many forms from state sponsored propaganda to keeping the public illiterate. I ,indeed, owould never want to relinquish this precious and delicate individula power to choose to an institution such as the government--given its horrible track record in education as evident from annual test results year over year. In conclusion, To let government hold a monopoly on education would be to give up our individual liberty and the freedom to choose.

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