I see today that yet another person (the Chief Inspector of Schools, this time) is taking a cheap pop at private schools in a poorly-veiled effort to grab a few headlines. One more strike against the privileged on behalf of the rest of us, brother.
My children attend a private school. My wife and I chose, somewhat reluctantly, to send them there because the local school had so few pupils that it was on the verge of becoming unsustainable. The last year my son was there he was about to become the only boy in his year group. We looked at the other local school he might have been able to attend and frankly weren’t very impressed at all.
It’s my deeply-held belief that a good education is one of the most valuable things you can provide for your child and I’m happy that’s what they’re getting at the school they now attend.
In order to pay for this we’ve not “dipped into the family trust fund” or rented out some more property or other. Between us we earn fairly close to the average family income for the UK. Average, note. To be able to afford it we’ve made as many sacrifices as are necessary. We have one car between us. A ten year old estate car that’s done about 130,000 miles, but we keep it going because we can’t really afford a replacement. We have holidays, some years, but more often than not it’s the odd week camping in Cornwall and many times I won’t go because I need to work. This year is a bit unusual as we’re driving over to France! We don’t have Sky or any other pay television (and our television is probably fifteen years old). We don’t go out very much. We don’t spend much on clothes (and most of that is on clothes for the children). It’s not always easy and sometimes I’d love to get a builder in to do the odd job or two, or go away without having to worry about how we’ll pay for it, but I can live with my choice and I’m not complaining about it. What I do object to is being smeared with the image of some loaded hooray by people who are far better off than me and who don’t have the vision to see past the end of their nose or the intellect to imagine that the world might not actually be the way their prejudices suggest.
So, next time some minister or other government representative wants to have a pop at private schools, perhaps they should come down here first and explain how we’re so privileged to have given up (or to never have had) so many of the things they take for granted in their cushy little lives.
And if they really, genuinely object to people having the “privilege” of being able to pay to get a higher standard of education than is available from the state then instead of whining about it to get a few cheap headlines, how about making it unnecessary for the likes of my family to even consider private education. Raise the standard of state schools to match. Allow the teachers to do the job they’d really like to do and pay them what their job is really worth. Treat them as if our future was in their care instead of crowd control for children. Now that would be a real privilege.