INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

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Foureyes
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INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

Post by Foureyes »

The merits (or otherwise) of independent (i.e. 'public') schools has been discussed off-and-on across this Forum, usually under totally unrelated headings.
I would like to draw attention to the recently published book 'Public Schools and the Second World War," by David Walsh and Anthony Seldon. The title (and the picture on the sleeve) are slightly misleading, giving the impression that the book is solely about 1939-1945. It is not and covers a much wider timeframe and also delves into some deeper topics. In particular, Chapter 10 'The Failure to Reform the Public Schools' covers the period 1943 to the mid-60s and describes the various measures that were considered - almost invariably half-heartedly. It is well worth reading by anyone who seeks to discuss the subject and to discover how we got where we are today.

My own reflection is that the independent schools are rather like the House of Lords in that the vast majority believe that both have outlived their usefulness and 'something must be done' but nobody can come up with a proposal that will gather popular support.

One aspect which intrigues me is that there are no less than forty state-funded boarding schools, where the state pays for the tuition and the provision of accommodation, while parents pay the boarding fees. These are never challenged, which suggests that all political parties accept the principle of boarding, it is just the curious status of independent schools which causes the problems.

Discuss!

David :shock:
rockfreak
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Re: INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

Post by rockfreak »

Well done for raising this issue. In 1944 Churchill (ex-Harrow) wanted to flood the "independent schools" with bursaries and assisted places in order to dilute them. In other words, fewer yahs and more bright oiks. He and Rab Butler (ex-Marlborough and by all accounts a spartan environment even by the standards of the boarding schools of the day) couldn't quite come to the right sort of egalitarian agreement and so we ended up with a compromise called the Fielding Commission (is that the right name?) which gave us grammars, secondary moderns and technical colleges. This obtained until Harold Wilson tried to bring in a form of comprehensiveness in the 1960s but even that didn't quite work out, leading to some comprehensives (with massive rolls), some direct grant grammars, and the "independent schools" still largely untouched. Indeed some might say that the independent schools have survived and gone from strength to strength.

Of course, as you point out, this still doesn't touch on the subject of boarding as an educational choice. Private or state sponsored. Psychotherapists Nick Duffell and Prof Joy Scheverein have much to say in their writings on "boarding school syndrome" - a subject which they've been studying independently for the last two and a half decades and both coming up with similar conclusions. We still seem to have this strange fascination for sending our children away to have them brought up by strangers of whom we know next to nothing.
loringa
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Re: INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

Post by loringa »

rockfreak wrote: Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:11 pm Of course, as you point out, this still doesn't touch on the subject of boarding as an educational choice. Private or state sponsored. Psychotherapists Nick Duffell and Prof Joy Scheverein have much to say in their writings on "boarding school syndrome" - a subject which they've been studying independently for the last two and a half decades and both coming up with similar conclusions. We still seem to have this strange fascination for sending our children away to have them brought up by strangers of whom we know next to nothing.
The principal reason for boarding is, and always has been, to provide continuity of education. Historically colonial and foreign office staff, the armed forces on foreign postings, and others working overseas needed somewhere to deposit their children where they could be guaranteed stability throughout their schooling. Though this is far less the case nowadays, the need remains and there will always be a need for some boarding provision for those who are deployed overseas. The Royal AIr Force and, to a lesser extent, the Royal Navy have, for some years now, tended to live around major air stations and naval bases, put down their roots in the local community, and based their families in Swaffham, Lincoln, Portsmouth or Helensburgh but that has never guaranteed employment in that particular area, particularly as people become more senior. The Army, the basing of which has in recent years become a largely political issue, still frequently move around the UK and abroad every two or three years. There is thus a very real need for boarding provision for a number of people, a need for which I am a typical example myself. After attending six different primary schools in 4 different countries, one twice, I was sent to Christ's Hospital to meet that very need. Had I continued to live at home I would have moved again in Year 10 (Upper Fourth) which is just about the worst time to move any child, just as he or she starts her GCE / GCSE courses. Boarding provision is thus required for some, whatever one's individual views on raising children. At my daughter's school (independent, non-selective, co-ed, day and boarding) pretty much the only children who board are either the children of armed forces personnel or people who live overseas.

As for the benefits or otherwise of independent schools, that has been done to death elsewhere.
eucsgmrc
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Re: INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

Post by eucsgmrc »

If the topic is independent schools, then we've already wandered off the point within the first day of discussion. We might get more clarity if we try to distinguish
  • issues about independent schools
  • issues about boarding schools
  • issues about elite schools
I'd like to raise one point about independent schools. If there were none, then the state could teach all children whatever it pleases, without exception, and by whatever means or system it pleases, without variation.
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Foureyes
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Re: INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

Post by Foureyes »

OK, I admit to a bit of sloppy writing - by 'independent schools' I mean independent boarding schools and just to clarify that - NOT independent day schools and NOT state-funded boarding schools.

It struck me that this cannot be just a UK problem, so I have done a bit of research and find that there are boarding schools in the following:
USA - 300+
Germany - 29
France - 17
Switzerland - 15
Sweden - some
Australia - some.
New Zealand - 72

Of course, more research would be needed to ensure that one was comparing like with like, but it would seem that we are not alone, and what makes our system unusual is that some people get excited about it.

I once visited Virginia Military Institute (a.k.a. VMI) which struck me as equivalent to a British boarding school, where the CCF has got completely out-of-hand.

Concerning eucsgmrc's mention of 'elite schools', I do not know what he means - perhaps he would care to define them, please?

David
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Re: INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

Post by sejintenej »

I admit to being somewhat puzzled that David has mentioned boarding schools in France when we re discussing schools independent of the state. There is one building I know in Soreze which was an independent school until it was closed by the state and the buildings seized. That one had a long history including being a college for the military until it became a privately run school. There is another whose name I forget which was forced to close and it moved to England under it's original French name; I suspect the religion laws were responsible for that closure.

Due to its size France does have a large number of schools which are part day and part 5 days a week boarding plus two I know of which are permanent boarding but they are all state owned and controlled. There are connections; a past member of this forum was a teacher in one in Pamiers, the sister of a good friend had to travel to near Paris from the Pyrenees to one** and her sister also went to a more local one - all because of distance.

*I suspect that the French Rugby Union had a say in that one.
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Foureyes
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Re: INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

Post by Foureyes »

sejintenej says: "I admit to being somewhat puzzled that David has mentioned boarding schools in France..."

I draw attention to my original caveat: "...Of course, more research would be needed to ensure that one was comparing like with like..."

This really boils down to the question of just what do people refer when they start to discuss schools in the UK? Do they mean 'independent schools" because they are outwith at least some government controls (which would include both day and boarding schools), or do they mean 'boarding schools' (which would include both non-government funded schools AND the 50-odd government-funded schools?

David
loringa
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Re: INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

Post by loringa »

Foureyes wrote: Mon Oct 26, 2020 10:33 pm I once visited Virginia Military Institute (a.k.a. VMI) which struck me as equivalent to a British boarding school, where the CCF has got completely out-of-hand.
The VMI is only a school in the sense that in the US universities are often referred to as schools. The VMI offers a 4-year undergraduate degree course. All VMI students must be members of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) which is broadly the equivalent of the Officer Training Corps (OTC), University Air Squadrons (UAS), University Royal Naval Units (URNU) or the Defence Technical Officer and Engineer Entry Scheme (DTOEES) Squadrons that we have at many of our universities. According to their website, nowadays only about 50% of VMI graduates enter the US Armed Forces so it is not quite a West Point or Annapolis, but it is in no way comparable to a British independent (or boarding or 'elite') school.

By the way, by 'elite' school are you (eucsgmrc) referring to the academies run by football clubs or other sporting institutions to develop the skills of the elite athletes of tomorrow?
Last edited by loringa on Tue Oct 27, 2020 8:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
loringa
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Re: INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

Post by loringa »

Foureyes wrote: Mon Oct 26, 2020 10:33 pm OK, I admit to a bit of sloppy writing - by 'independent schools' I mean independent boarding schools and just to clarify that - NOT independent day schools and NOT state-funded boarding schools.
Although most of us attended a Christ's Hospital where everyone except the non-foundationers boarded, I would just like to point out that large numbers of independent schools offer both boarding and day provision. Of course there are many which only offer day provision, but far fewer nowadays that are solely boarding. So if we are narrowing down the scope of this discussion, it would be worth clarifying whether you are including independent school that offer both day provision and boarding or solely those that are entirely boarding.

This will help us from wandering off-topic.
eucsgmrc
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Re: INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

Post by eucsgmrc »

Foureyes wrote: Mon Oct 26, 2020 10:33 pm Concerning eucsgmrc's mention of 'elite schools', I do not know what he means - perhaps he would care to define them, please?
Grammar schools? Public schools?

There's plenty of excited public discussion about this kind of thing, and has been for years. I'll leave it to the people who get excited about it to define just what they mean.

If parents will pay a lot, or compete fiercely, to get their children into a school, that's probably an elite school. If attending the school confers (or maintains) some scarce advantage, that's probably an elite school. Perhaps simply being selective is enough.
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wurzel
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Re: INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

Post by wurzel »

And then you have places like Reading school - a state grammar (now academy trust) where boys have to pass an 11+ exam for entry but are then educated for free but which is also partly a state funded boarding school (boarding fees £11,946 pa with no scholarship discounts available) https://www.reading-school.co.uk/page/? ... ees&pid=37
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