The School Swap: The Class Divide - Dis anyone watch this mini series?

It just came up on my Youtube feed. Benrose school go to Warminster in Wiltshire. Christ very insightful. Dont tax or abolish public schools, invest in the state ones properly FFS!

The argument is though that VAT on public schools would provide extra cash to invest in the state system...

VAT on private school places wouldn't raise enough to move the needle on schools. Forcing them to actually act like the charities they purport to be would though. Education of the very privileged just shouldn't be a charitable purpose. 

Yeah supposedly. I'm sure it won't happen though. The government don't give a toss about funding state education. Was lovely to see Brett go to Warminster from a Benrose a crappy comp in Derby. He was a cheeky , nice lad who wasn't that interested and felt a bit uncomfy in his surrounds. 

Soon enough he really settled in, flourished and they gave him a scholarship at the end of the program

DDS, they give bursaries and scholarships worth tens of millions of pounds..... According to a former boss who was a governor at Eton, almost half received financial assistance on the basis of need

I find it harder and harder to justify the charitable status for independent schools.

Unfortunately, the tiny number who can justify it like Eton and Winchester are the ones who don't need it, because they have massive historical endowments. 

My old place is always trying to tap me up to contribute to providing more scholarships and bursaries.


@3ducks your 9.15 is spot on, It thought the same. Had the air and feel of a good grammar, but in a much nicer estate. Kids seemed very ordinarily middle/lower middle

destroy one of the things we still do really really well because of misplaced ideas about social justice and equality.  Ebit is right, try to do what the public schools do for as many children as we can. When schools in the 1950s sought to copy the public and private schools, the outcomes were much better including social mobility etc. It doesn't have to cost much you just have to stop being dogmatic.  

public schools have fooked this country in many many ways - not least in giving mediocrities the skills and misplaced confidence to bullshit their way to the top.

"public schools have fooked this country in many many ways - not least in giving mediocrities the skills and misplaced confidence to bullshit their way to the top."

or put another way "giving mediocrities better outcomes than they would have had had they gone to another school". That could be the definition of a good school. Copy whatever those teachers are doing and their curriculum etc and "mediocre children" (as you call them) would be given the chance to gain skills and confidence so they achieve their potential? 

from an article in this weeks times about swapping to state for sixth form


"These experiments also go badly wrong. One friend has seen a capable but pony-loving teenage girl be yanked from her all-girl day school to a highly selective mixed-sex state school in a tough neighbourhood (same postcode). “How on earth will she cope?” she says. “How far are we willing to push social engineering, and at what mental cost?”"

No Sumo it doesn't work like that    The whole point of public schools is to give the kids an advantage over the majority - that's how it helps mediocrities reach the top - by definition that wouldn't work if everybody was educated the same.

They're typically not charities and that's a total scam. However it matters more that the politicians who can do something to improve education don't give a toss because no one they know has to go into the state system. Education is a 'them' problem.

Some special needs private schools do deserve charitable status of course. 

What Sumo said

@guy, what do you suggest as the alternative. I said elsewhere, some of my friends parents struggled or lived in penury for getting their kids into public school. Many were decidely average academically, ie in the middle/lower middle stream. The worst of all worlds, the squeezed middle and all that. Handful scraped average grade GCSEs, parents pulled them out for A levels and they ended up at leading RG Unis. How and why do you think that happened.


impose vat on private school fees, but make the entire cost of private education tax deductible for those earning less than £100k.

We used to be able to provide a top class education via grammar schools and we still do. Is there is any evidence that charitable status of public schools is responsible for anything? 


ebitda because they wanted the best for their children, to give them advantage, most parents do, I don't critise them as individuals for that but believe it is extremely harmful for our society.   The domination of public school educated people at the top of so many areas of our national life means we are not run as well as we could be because the natural talent is crowded out by the rather superficial over confidence and presentational skills imbued by these schools.       The absolute classic example of this is Rees Mogg, the man is clearly an idiot  and has done great harm but he has public school confidence and manner - which in this country allows him to fool most of the people most of time.

the charitable status of schools is responsible for giving tax breaks to institutions designed to increase inequality of opportunity - that is enough.

The point of grammar schools has gone round our way, now that middle class parents use tutors to ensure their kids get in above the bright but poorer ones. I have a relative whose kids got in on merit recently, without tutors, but that's quite unusual now.

the answer is a properly funded comprehensive system with streaming - in cities this should involve an element of neigbourhood mixing so the economic background of the students at each school is mixed in a similar fashion.  I would not be averse to some sort of grammar type system to nurture the very top students but this would be done at 14 and based on assessments of performance to date - not some joke shop IQ test done at 11.

@ guy shock horror parents wanting the best academically for their children. Its a nonsense that most of the top jobs are held by privately educated people. Most of the professions from top to bottom are stuffed with state school students

charging a fee for educating children would be made illegal as a societal bad (with exceptions for extra curricular activities)

I don't critise them as individuals for that but believe it is extremely harmful for our society.

You can say the same for all the people I know who rent houses close to the best state schools to game the admissions system and ensure that the best state schools are full of intelligent middle class kids who are pushed and encouraged by their parents at the expense of the local working class kids who are forced to travel to the schools nobody wants to go to.  A friend who lives in Surrey pointed out that one of his local primary schools was full of the kids of professionals who'd moved out of London and the other had a big contingent from the local traveller site so he went out of his way to get his kids into the former.  If you bring all schools up to the same level then it removes the incentive to try and send your kids to a particular school

Schools should be smaller, better funded, decent sports facilities and not with a culture infiltrated by left week extremists and Ofsted. 

ebitda - by way of example 65% of the current cabinet is privately educated - to be representative it should be 7% 

As is in often said by headmasters at leading private schools , " its equally important what happens outside class hours as to what happens inside"

If I have children and they show even moderate academic/sporting/musical aptitude, I will happily live in rags to get them in somewhere. I have been educated in both systems, one of which was a strict state RC faith school. It was shit and then some, and this was a good state school supposedly 

Guy, I don't class MPs as being a proper job. I am talking about , Drs, physios, managment consultants, Bankers, accountants, lawyers, pharmacists etc. Mainly state educated.

I am not saying public schools are not better than state schools, of course they are, they have to be otherwise people would not pay the fees.    You seem to be missing my point entirely.

the cabinet more than anyone else run the country ebitda, you may not class it as a "proper job" but is obviously incredibly important.  That is just the figure that was readily avialable I am sure some quick research will reveal over domination of public school in many areas.

Look guy , yes its important, but these aunts wouldn't last a day in the real world. Majority of my team including MDs and partners, are comp educated....

This cabinet and most of the labour shadow cabinet are a mixed bunch in terms of education and are predominantly pretty useless or worse. I find it worrying that it is even used as an example of how best to educate children both for the obvious political element and its irrelevance. It’s this arrogant thinking by politicians on all sides that has contributed to poor schools. 

There is a massive difference between wanting the best for your child, and wanting to ensure your child has better opportunities than poorer children.

Wot Sumo and Ebit said. 

Instead of chastising the public schools as "elitist", these so-called progressive teachers should be emulating them. 

dux you also miss the point entirely - you cannot teach all kids the assumption they are destined for leadership and you cannot give all kids an advantage in the career market by definition obviously.

snow fox I think you and I agree on private schools but I actually think there is much difference between wanting what is best for your kids and wanting them to have advantages over less fortunate kids.      The latter seems to me implicit in the former.

Eg Raab decent grammar, Alex Chalk public school. Which one would be your preference as justice secretary? Priti Patel local comp and worst HS ever followed by Suella Braverman educated on a scholarship at fee paying school. Perhaps it would be worth looking not at their schooling but their employment history as their schooling doesn’t seem to provide evidence of anything to me? 


elephant its about numbers not individuals (yes I mentioned Mogg but only to illustrate the archetype over promoted undertalented public school type).  The cabinet having 65% public school means it is missing out on lots of talent because it is biased to that background, just as used to be the case when women were underrepresented in positions of power.

"you cannot teach all kids the assumption they are destined for leadership and you cannot give all kids an advantage in the career market"

Everyone can be taught leadership. Whether that manifests itself later in life is another matter.

As for "competing in the career market", the aim is not to do better than others, it's to do the best one can. 

There will be plenty of over promoted state school types in the Labour Party. All of them should be kept away from  making decisions about children’s futures imo. They all use causes they have never worked in and know little about to further their own careers. As Ebitda says they wouldn’t be anywhere in real world. 

there is a difference between teaching leadership and teaching an assumption that you are part of a leadership cast - public schools do the latter.    They also teach a patrician manner which in this still highly class conscious country amounts to a massive confidence trick on the rest of society that the possessor is clever wiser and more deserving to be paid attention to than those not taught this manner.

I am reminded of I think the election before last when on the ssme day both Daine Abbott and Boris Johnson were interviewed.  They both cocked things up entirely and got most of their facts wrong- Abbott was crucified as being irredeemably thick but because Johnson has the public school patrician manner so his equally awful interview was laughed off as just Boris being Boris 

this was widely put down to racism or mysogyny but that portrays a misunderstanding of this country,  it was neither it was to do with class.

Ebita - you are completely wrong (not surprisingly).  

65% of the cabinet is privately educated

Approx.75% of holders of the top 150 judicial posts in the UK are privately educated. 

70+% of QC's are privately educated.

Approx 60% of the most senior civil servants are privately educated.

over 50% of partners in leading city firms were privately educated. Similar numbers for top execs in FTSE100 companies (once you strip out those educated abroad).  

29% of doctors in England are privately educated (i.e. 4x what would be representative). I couldn't find a number for consultants specifically but I bet it is considerably higher. 

Christ even in the labour party something like15% of the MP's are privately educated ffs (i.e. twice the proportion that would be representative of the population at large). 

Can't be ar8ed to post all the links but a lot of it is in here.


Heh at the Cabinet running the country.  They have a long argument announce a policy and then the civil servants look at it decide it is bonkers and carry on as usual.

The worst thing is that (at least in my experience) it feels like it is getting worse. Partly because the recruitment focus re diversity has been so heavily on gender and race there are fewer state school kids getting through.  

That may be true Sails but public schools are massively over represented in the senior civil service as well. 

it is actually far worse from a talent blocking point of view than race of sex inequality - with race inequality it is the 80% having an advantage over the 20% with gender inequality it is 50% having an advantage over the other 50% with public schools it is is 7% having the advantage over 93%.   Oxbridge are proud of the fact they are at broadly 50/50 FFS.  Which is ludicrous.

I guess it depends Guy. Much as I dislike the private school system, it seems more honest than trying to game the state system to make sure your kids get in over others who actually live in the catchment, or are bright enough to pass the 11+ if it were a level field etc.

so why Donny Darko would we want to get rid of or tax out of existence the educational system that seems to be disproportionately producing most of our leaders in industry and all these high achieving individuals and replace it with one that doesn't achieve nearly as much for its students in comparison? Go to most private schools now and the parents aren't old money. The schools aren't perpetuating old tropes about the ruling class. Most parents are new money choosing to spend their money on an education for their children that over-achieves when compared to the local comprehensive. Good for them. 

sumo, this is the exact trick, they don't produce more leaders because they churn out inherently more gifted and competent leaders - they may bump up their A levels grades a notch and teach them grade 6 piano but that does not transform people into talented leaders.  What they do is teach largely by osmosis the confidence and expectation of leadership and skill set to navigate Britains class infested workplace and come out on top - that does not actually make them the best people for the job.  Therein lies the problem.   In other countries you cannot largely predict somebodies position in the hierarchy by their accent, in this country you largely can.

wot guy said...if our leaders rose due to leadership skills rather than their education then we'd have better leaders...or at least less leaders who get found out in top roles

If I had children I’d be gaming every last corner of the system to ensure they had the best possible education available to prepare them as well as possible for the shitshow that is British society. Just like every other parent. That would not include sending them to a state secondary school. Anyone saying anything else is lying thru their hoop.

I don't criticise you for that Bertha, and I don't claim otherwise (although I don't have kids) parental instinct to do the best for your own kids will nearly always override societal concerns - its just hard-wired.

I don't think they're lying. I think they just care more about virtue signalling than their children's education. 

Look at left wing politicians for instance. They never used to have this dogmatic hostility towards independent schools. Wilson, Jenkins, even Tony Benn sent their children to private schools. 

I think there's a bit of a correlation/causation fail here.  I don't think Eton made Boris an overconfident/patrician tw@t.  The fact that he was brought up that way meant it more likely his parents would send him to Eton.

State schools (I went to a crappy school very similar to Bemrose) need to teach clever kids how to weed out the genuinely smart private school kids from the charlatans like Johnson and Rees-Mogg and not fall for the cognitive biases they exploit.

In my career I've found a good way of avoiding over-promoted public school types is just to work for American firms.  They don't tend to care about your background and don't fall for the overconfident nonsense.

Maybe we should bring in Americans (or other expats) to run the Civil Service, Judiciary and BBC.  Problem solved!

"the entire charity sector is a racket"

tHeY aRe LiTeRaLLy sTeaLinG frOm uS!!! 

deFunD tEh oVeRSeaS DiSaStEr iNdUStRY!! 

Bring in Germans, Swedes and Danes to run everything and I will relax and look on with awe. 

Of course Eton made (or helped make) Boris an over confident ar8ehole ffs. Everything about the place is set up to make people feel special/born to rule.

The silly outfits, the made up words for things, the ministers and other 'notables' coming to speak to the boys, the focus on sports that nobody else plays (because who cares what other people do). 

It isn't even THAT massively successful academically. That (over) confidence is exactly what they are selling. That more than any other aspect of the education there IS the product. To be fair at least they try to teach them to be polite to the little people (at least to their faces). That is part of why they produce so many successful politicians.  


The outfits are not "silly", they've evolved over time to represent the rich history of the institution. 

And the words are not "made up", the lexicon has evolved organically. 

Sorry you didn't attend a proper school. Try not be chippy about it, yeah? 

As for "sports that nobody else plays", football was codified by the Public Schools, and Eton's own code was instrumental in that.

The Old Etonians have reached the FA Cup five times, and beat Blackburn Rovers in the final one year! 

What sumo said at 12.12 exactly. Banking, accountancy, dentistry , PE, surveying is not full of public school types . The only advantage really is the school will get the best out of your children, across the piece , no matter what their abilities.

also the reverse is true had a friend from lower middle class background who lived in our street whilst growing up. Dad owned a small successful building company . Mother was a hairdresser. He got a place at Westmimister, and he hated it . He could barely keep up ( that’s the point of Westmimister it’s an Uber academic hothouse) and he was mercilessly ribbed about everything. He hated it . Parents yanked him out and he went to Kingston grammar to do his A levels where he flourished.

no idea how his parents got him in there. My parents and my friends parents tried for what seemed like years to get us in there along with Tiffin grammar school , and the hoops. Hurdles, and obstacles they put in one’s place was insane . Probably no exaggeration to say it’s easier and quicker to get a full scholarship to Eton. The schools must take some blame in not giving the students the attitude they can do what they want.

Vertigo last para at 13.04 is bang on. I work in the London office of a US shop and they just don’t and won’t fall for this I’m a Baeonet Doolittle, with an extreme sense of confidence and I speak as posh as anyone has heard .

The state system should thank the private for giving it insights how it can be done , Warminister is a third tier public school.The government should thank the private system for not breaking the state system more than it is . Blame the government 

On two occasions I shared with Swiss students at uni and they just couldn’t get their head round the whole private school thing here. Apparently in Switzerland you only send kid’s private if they are PROBLEM children.

My mate’s kid got into a really shit secondary, so she’s gone and viewed a private and is doing that. As she said ‘what’s the point in having it if I can’t do that for my kid’ and she’s state through and through until it’s a shit option and she’s lucky enough to be able to make that choice 

I have a teacher friend who comes from a working class background but who now teaches at a top public school. He was recounting a scenario: newly minted parents will start at the school saying: "little Jonny was just not being challenged at his old school, he was bored, so he was disruptive and his behaviour was worsening - all because he is so clever you see and the school just couldn't provide for his needs so, against all our principles we sent him here".  A few years later, Little Jonny gets into Oxbridge and his parents are overheard saying, "well, of course, Little Jonny would have got into Oxbridge whatever school he went to".   

DDS at 15.13 , no that was home upbringing and going to Oxford did that.

I know loads of people when I was growing up who got into Oxford, from very ordinary working/middle class backgrounds, the change in them and the arrogance didn't take long to manifest itself.

Ditto the same applied to UoB where I went, which as a Uni seeks to mimic Oxford in many ways

Guy's points here are unintentionally hilarious.

Anyone providing education services for a fee would be committing a criminal offence! 

Lock up the piano teachers!  Lock up those who help kids with SEN!!!!!

Bus all the children to different places!

Do you have kids, Guy?

Nob is currently having an assessment with a private school teacher from a veh veh nice school to see how he’s getting along and whether he’s been negatively impacted by his time with the other proles 

I remember one tutoring programme saying to me when hearing he was at state school - well of course you’re already a year behind compared to the private schools in your area and that’s what we are all aspiring too isn’t it 

Oxford (and Cambridge) does the same thing for sure but it is very, very clear that Boris was already a twot by the time he got there... 

The difference is that there is at least some merit component to getting in to Oxford and Cambridge (less so in Boris's day admittedly). 

This is quite full on - I’m listening to nob’s assessment from another room. Trying to read / scroll but caaaaaaaaant 

DDS in part we seem to agree. Yes Boris was deffo a twot prior to going to Oxford. But my point remains Oxford turns the most ordinary people into supercillious aunts. Imperial and LSE don't.

I remember being in a seminar with a dozen other students at Oxford the week that the Laura Spence story ( was in the media. The professor leading the seminar commented on the story and said that independent schools were obviously better than state schools. I had attended state schools and I remember thinking how narrow a life the professor must have had to think it was okay to say stuff like that. I did not enjoy the year I spent doing a taught postgrad at Oxford because those sort of attitudes were very frequently encountered. 


Plus all this shit depends on where you’re from, what sort of saddo social climber you are or aren’t, whether you live in the sticks or aspire to or don’t and don’t want to, are you academic or a rugger bugger, oh and most of all whether or not you have the choice you over entitled cvnt. 

One things public schools do is provide a glass floor for the work place.*

It sets up the individual in such a manner that in their chosen career, although they may not do super well, they do okay i.e. there is a glass floor below which they do not seem to fall. 

I have some super dim mates who, whilst not doing really well, are doing better than they would have done had they gone to a state school. And there are any number from my own third rate public school who are in very average jobs but really would have difficulty getting a job sweeping the streets had they not had the leg up given by their background. 

*this is a rule of thumb and there, of course, exceptions

Assessment complete - she teaches at a private school and must have said 10x ‘private school children are a year ahead of state school children but her assessment was that nob would match his peers at her school - so they’re not a year ahead at all.  It’s just marketing spin with bigger playing fields.

OB, so many parents say oh " My children are so gifted/clever" I am nt saying that applies to you, but it cannot be true.

Whats wrng with saying, Alex is average and not interested in school, like a former boss with a title, who owned huge swathes of Hampshire, educated at Eton and Oxford always said of his kids

I’ve never once said my kids are so gifted and clever and I wouldn’t. I think they are normal / average which is a gift in and of itself. But I am of course proud of every little thing they do because I grew them and I cherish them and they are the most amazing things in my world - but importantly, not The World.

I got nob academically assessed because of my lack of experience in teaching / understanding of how to support him in his home learning which I’m expected to do with him each week and I’m not sure if I’m doing it right. 

I want to make sure that the support and stuff I give him / do with him at home is the best that I can personally do and without any experience in the area, I am looking for pointers to see if I needed to do more / less / different and I don’t want to ask other parents and start or being involved in a chain reaction of anxious competitive parenting.

The point about private schools being a year ahead is what every single private education provider I’ve spoken too has said multiple times in each interaction and then today at the end of the assessment this one said nob was at the same levels as his peers at private school - rather than having some genius genes moment I took it that the whole line is marketing spin to get you to part with your money. 


I guess ‘what’s wrong with saying their average’ and not interested round our way could possibly be that the parents are all high achieving professionals rather than old money and a lot of those people are aspiring that their kids will go onto do the same thing as them and that requires good grades and application etc. and Ofc a hallowed grammar school place sets the kids on their or a desirable to them path.

I find the generalisation and prejudice about people on the basis of the type of school they went to a bit astonishing amongst educated professionals. 

"In my career I've found a good way of avoiding over-promoted public school types is just to work for American firms.  They don't tend to care about your background and don't fall for the overconfident nonsense."


I'd never considered this but it is bang on accurate and no-coincidence that I have spent most of my career working for Americans

About 20% of children are in fee paying schools by sixth form (not least because more state school children than private school children stop school at 16 to go into other things like apprenticeships etc now you are not allowed simply to stop school at 16).

I did watch the series mentioned a while ago and thought it was quite funny they picked a private school with not very good exam results as the supposed contrast with the more failing state school. Also it was not particularly fair on the state school children as they did not pick very clever ones (there are many in state schools) so it was not quite a good comparison. However it was interesting of both schools to let us in to see them both.


As for whether Rofers should pay fees it is their choice. you don't even have to go to school at all int he UK (our late Queen never went) and one of my son's friends was educated entirely at home until sixth form when he joined their school. Lots of choices particularly for children of lawyers. I was happy to pay fees from 4 - 18 (indeed including university fees) and my siblings and I were similarly in single sex fee paying day schools from 4 - 18. However I would never criticise another parent's choice  - people pick state religious or private religious schools or schools with few lessons like Summerhill or all kinds of schools - it would be boring to be in a UK which is all the same. However I do think it is unfair some of the UK has state grammars and some of it does not when we are one country. Newcastle where I am from gave up grammar schools in 1970.


As for who is ahead of whom it is hard to compare because children do not all do well at the same age and what is "well" depends on the parent -that might mean for my fairly fundamentalist family down the road that the state primary allows the tiny little girls to wear full muslim head covering and the various prayers. It might be for some parents a single sex state or private school because they do not want s ex before marriage or it might be they want mixed ability classes or the opposite.  If well means doing academically well presumably at age 18 for university and later for careers which is probably important for many parents particularly lawyers just pick what works for you and go for it. For some that is a house in a leafy suburb where houses cost £1m in a state comp and for others a fee paying school.


The hostility towards Public Schools from BrexitBrexit persona really jars. Surely BrexitBrexit is a red wall type who looks down his nose at the elite, privately educated Remoaners?