A difficult dichotomy

Last night i spent 3 and a half hours on the phone to a friend of mine i havent spoken to in years (hence the length of the call to plug the gap in communication). By the time i put the phone down at midnight, i was all spent and a blog post that night was never going to happen, so £1 in the pot to Unicef  as per this blog’s policy – a pound for each missed post.

I then enjoyed a girly night in this evening (making the most of my husband on a residential study course). I was particularly impressed with how i avoided all the chocolate on offer.

Conversation was random and at times irritating. My old school friend has grown up in a middle class rural bubble, so when she goes to the capital for an ebay purchase and finds herself hunting for an address in a high-rise block of flats, she starts to wonder at ‘what cultural minority’ she will see at the door. I squirm like bait on a fish hook at this comment, but she is my friend so let it go. This then progresses to my other friend who works as a paramedic in London talking about the cases she is sometimes called to. Sadly some people are so depressed they drink bleach to overcome their situation. At which point my friend pipes up ‘god what a waste of tax-payers money to do something that extreme just for attention’. I squirm some more and start to wonder who has been brainwashing her into thinking like a Daily Mail buffoon.

I have had enough of this ignorant attitude to cultural and social differences – why is it always about them and us? We are all trying to live the best way we can in the circumstances which we find ourselves in, regardless of background or genes, this is a fact that unifies us.

I read an article today in The Guardian that made me think – Alan Bennett criticising private education labelling it as unfair because it is based on the social situation of parents rather  than ability. I agree it is unfair. If we merged the state and private sector together, good schools would push nearby property prices up to be ‘in catchment’, so less well-off children would struggle to live close enough to the good schools. It is difficult to find a way round education that doesn’t result in the wealthier families securing ‘the best’ education. What i do think is possible to change is a private school’s position as a charity. To maintain their charitable status, they dont have to do an awful lot in my opinion, they now dont even have to provide a certain number of bursaries, they just need to do something of ‘public benefit’. I would ask independent schools to sponsor failing state schools, to assist with the schools who didnt fare well following ofsted inspections. With combined resources and teachers the help of a private school to act as a guide for a failing school would be a good thing. I would ask that private schools have their fees capped like universities so that they never become too exclusive and that they have a set number of students whose joint family income is 20k or below and 40k or below so that families across the social scale benefit from the education. Private schools should not be allowed to ‘groom’ russell group universities and companies who exist to ‘train’ private school pupils for university interviews should also offer heavily subsidised services to the state sector.

I firmly believe education is the  source of the class and cultural divide still very present in British society so something needs o be done to bridge that gap. Abolishing private schools completely will create problems in other areas, the state and private sector working  in partnership driven by government policy might just work. Parents and pupils deserve choice in education and this country cant afford to continue on his current trajectory that breeds snobbery, ignorance and contempt.

This blog is for unicef. Thanks for reading.

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