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The Value of a Public Education System


Jean Walker
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OK. Here we go. Should all governments provide a public education system?

Is it a good thing to have a private system as well? If so, should it be funded by governments?

In Australia 30% of students go to private schools which are heavily funded by both state and federal governments. Some private schools get so much money from a combination of govt and private money and fees that they hardly know what to spend it on, while the state system is starved of necessary funds - this is at present causing such debate in Australia that the polls have it as No 2 issue for the forthcoming federal election, after terrorism.

Thoughts, please?

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In France, as far I'm concerned, Public schools hold 75 to 80 % of the students. Confessional schools (mainly catholics but it is juts the name, they don't pray anymore in thses schools :lol: ) are mostly for the students who don't want to go in bad areas. It's barely because of religion.

They are not as rich as the schools you describe in Australia. Fees are quite low (around 150 euros max per month and some the same amount of money for three months).

The difference, as I'm a civil servant in a Public school, is based on "laïcité". A law forbids religious apparel in our schools. It's so important (perhaps the most important thing).

The other important value is about citizenship. There can be some pressures in the private sector on that. Here, I'm free. Not to do fool things but I can see a wide range of topics whenever I want.

I could continue but don't know if my answer fits to what you expexted.

Anyway tell me!

Jean Philippe

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According to what I have read, Australia has probably the biggest private school sector in the world - in many other countries it's only about 5-10%

Many believe that our present right-wing federal govt is vastly overspending on private schools, especially the capital city, elite ones which already charge huge fees, and therefore driving a wedge between public and private which will ultimately destroy what was once a top class public system.

Does the govt in France help to pay for the private schools?

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Does the govt in France help to pay for the private schools?

As they have to cope with the national curriculum, teachers from private schools are paid by the government. But the buildings, the furnitures, computers etc etc are not taken into account by the State or the County.

Mainly, the State is supporting public sector but decentralization is a big issue here...some of the richest region (county) could have the best schools with everthing while other regions could have nothing...it depends also on the wing of the political party which leads the county...Quite a complicated issue I know for non-french (even for french...)

The best 2-3 schools in France are public (in Patis): Louis le Grand and Henri IV....but elite ones only!

If you have other question do not hesitate.

Jean Philippe

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Thanks, JP

Does anyone know about the way private schools are funded in the US and Britain? Do they get any assistance from governments?

Does anyone believe in the voucher system of education? Why? Why not?

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Let me add some input from Sweden.

The previous government here, which was run by the right, brought in 'private' schools, making it fairly easy to establish them, and giving them the same amount (or at first a slightly greater amount) of public money/pupil as council schools get in return for *not* giving them the power to charge fees. Education is run by local councils here, although there are all sorts of co-ordinations and inspections going on, together with a national curriculum.

I suspect that the current government (of the left) would like to abolish 'private' schools again, but one of their coalition partners won't let them, and the Swedish Parliament has been finely balanced for as long as anyone can remember (I think that the last time one party held power on its own was in the 1960s).

The effects are quite interesting. The right introduced 'private' schools in order to radically re-shape Swedish schooling. What's happened has been firstly the establishment of denominational schools - principally by evangelical Christians and Muslims - many of which have come under severe criticism from inspectors, mainly on two grounds: they fail to provide qualified teachers; and they fail to subscribe to the democratic values mentioned in the national curriculum.

The second effect has been 'cherry-picking'. In the relatively few towns where there is a significant amount of 'private' schooling, there's an incipient revolt from middle-class parents, who see cherished local council schools having to cut back or close down altogether because someone's started a 'private' school in the same area (since it's only the Muslim 'private' schools which start up in the relatively less-well off areas).

It's the same phenomenon which meant that the rural, Conservative areas of Britain were the first introducers of comprehensive schooling - there are only so many pupils in a given area and so much money. You can't spread your resources out thinly enough to allow for 'private' schooling without beggaring the entire system - both 'private' and state.

My own position is that I'll believe in 'private' education the day the state removes the obligation to send children to school. Whilst the state compels children to go to school, I feel that it has an obligation to provide good quality schooling for them. As you can see, I don't feel that 'private' schooling has been much of a success in Sweden - they go bankrupt all the time!

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There are currently 0.54 million children in private schools in the Great Britain. I believe that is about 8 per cent of the school population. Most of the fees are paid for by the parents. However, there are some scholarships available for children whose parents cannot afford the fees. Private schools have charitable status and so are in fact subsidized by the taxpayer.

It is argued that the existence of private education undermines the idea of equal opportunities for all students. Private schools have smaller classes and spend far more per head on educational resources. As a result their exam results are better than in the state sector. A recent survey showed that one in five 2002 graduates went to private school and that they are twice as likely to have had a job offer than those attending state school.

However, the most important advantage of going to a public school is not the exam grade you end up with. It allows you to join what is known as the “old school tie network”. This is a sophisticated and subtle system that will help you become successful in your chosen career. I remember attending my first ever interview for a teaching post. One of the other candidates was a fellow PGCE student at Sussex University. She was a late entrant to the profession and was in her early 30s. She had been educated at a private school and had had enjoyed a successful career in public relations (she was also a lousy teacher who had been expected to fail her PGCE course). However, she told me confidently she would get the job on offer (we had been told that 600 student teachers had applied for the post). As she said, she had never failed to get a job she had been interviewed for. I was amazed by her self-confidence. Surely it was misplaced? After all this was a job in a state comprehensive school and she was a failing student with terrible reports from her PGCE tutors. However, she was right, she got the job. A few weeks later she decided to marry a rich Frenchman and resigned before she started the job (it was then offered to me). Twenty years later I met her again. By this time she was head of a private school in France. She proudly told me that she had maintained her record of getting every job she had ever applied for.

For many years it was the policy of the Labour Party to abolish private schools in the UK. Then the policy changed to one of making it more difficult for them (ending private schools charitable status). Under Tony Blair the policy has changed once again. The government now has a policy of encouraging parents to send their children to private schools (Blair of course went to one of the UK’s most expensive private schools).

Blair is in favour of a particular type of private/state school. These are called voluntary aided faith schools. In the UK we currently have 6,900 faith schools. However, the religious organizations only pay 15% of the capital costs. The taxpayers pay the rest. They also pay the teachers wages. Blair defends this policy by arguing they improve educational standards. When a Labour MP pointed out in the House of Commons recently that one fundamentalist school was teaching against the theory of evolution, Blair replied that was alright because they had good GCSE results.

Research suggests that 80% of the UK population are against the idea of faith schools. Others object because it undermines our comprehensive system (faith schools have the power to select its pupils – the real reason why they get better exam results). Others are concerned about the increasing numbers of students that are being taught in Muslim schools. However, Blair refuses to change his policy on this issue.

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Jean Phillipe, what does "citizenship'" mean to you?

The way students can be involved in the nation. Being full citizen,...

We have a subject area whose name is "ECJS". Education Civique Juridique et Sociale. We have to study issues on election, political parties, big issues: European Union, Globalisation, Social security, Taxes....We have to prepare a debate....

I don't know if it sounds clearer to you. Hope so :D

Jean Philippe

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Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, made an attack on the UK privatised education system where schools are "marketised, franchised and sponsored". Mcaccuse the prime minister of wanting "schools to be run like Tesco stores", where they offered air miles and "two lessons for the price of one."

"The crisis before us is one that stems from a government that is hell-bent on dismantling the public education service," he said in a speech which laid bare the sheer size of the divide between the government and the NUT, which represents 253,000 members.

The Guardian report on the speech said:

The government's enthusiasm for bringing in business to schools through the private finance initiative and other schemes was a "nightmare prospect" which amounted to the most radical upheaval since the 1944 Education Act, Mr McAvoy said. "What began with tentative experiments in education action zones and PFI is accelerating into complete deregulation, privatisation, commodification and globalisation. Deregulation is proceeding apace with a virtual abolition of controls over who can teach.

"Private supply will be brought in to meet public need. And the logical extrapolation of that is 'pay more - get more' ... the school of the future will be franchised, branded and sponsored."

He added: "The same logic that the government applies to variable top-up fees for university places will be applied to parental contributions to the education of their children.

"The taxpayer will provide the funding necessary for the base level of education provision. Sufficient, shall we say, for the bog standard comprehensive. Extras will come on top of that ... feeding the soul - music, art, drama, poetry -anything related to free expression [will be] extra."

http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/st...1191439,00.html

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Thank you for all that information - much appreciated!

Re funding in Australia - it is a very complex formula, which makes it easy for both sides to argue the toss, but basically, private schools here are graded. They get this grading by assessing the average income of the catchment area from which each student comes. This attracts to the student a certain amount of federal funding depending on the size of that income. The anomoly is that not all students attending elite private schools come from rich areas. eg a wealthy pastoralist living in the middle of a depressed rural area will be classified as if his income is the average income of that area and that student then attracts a larger amount of money than the student who may coincidentally live in a very wealthy suburb, but is not personally wealthy. On top of this, private schools may charge whatever fees they decide, also have bequests, gifts, grants, and more capacity to raise money through fund-raising activities. They also receive between 20 and 25% of their funds from the state. The result of all this is that private schools have a 40 to 44% greater spending capacity than state schools. Another example is that special needs students in govt schools receive $115 per head for their needs while in private schools they receive over $500 each, yet public schools educate 80% of these students.

It has just occurred to me that trying to explain this for you has made me even more aware of the obscenity of this system, yet our federal govt argues black and blue that they do not discriminate against govt schools. We now have 30% of students in private schools and I agree with the previous argument - if this is allowed to expand, we are in danger of having public education destroyed and in reality having no choice at all.

Hope this makes sense - it is a very nonsensical funding method!!

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  • 3 weeks later...

The latest details on private education in the UK were published yesterday. Children attending independent schools make up 7.1% of all pupils. This is a 0.1% growth on last year. This is the slowest growth-rate for many years. The main reason for this was a 9.6% increase in fees. Average fees are now £3,074 a term. Boarding fees are up to £5,909. A large percentage of these children come from abroad. Continental Europe contributes 28% of foreign pupils with Germany being the largest single source.

http://www.iscis.uk.net

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John

Thanks for that link, it's very useful. I am going to Canberra next week as part of a national delegation to listen to the Opposition Leader's announcement of their alternative plan for funding private schools. It's a federal election year here, so things are hotting up politically.

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John

Can you clarify the "private" and "independent" classifications in the UK. I read somewhere recently that almost 30% of Students in Britain go to "private" schools. Could that be right? How are catholic schools funded and what about charter schools and specialist schools? It all seems very complex. I just gave a talk to our Fabian society here about our system. They've published it and I'll send it to you if you're interested.

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Can you clarify the "private" and "independent" classifications in the UK. I read somewhere recently that almost 30% of Students in Britain go to "private" schools. Could that be right? How are catholic schools funded and what about charter schools and specialist schools?

As I said earlier, 7.1% of students go to private schols. The 30% figure is therefore far too high. They are probably including specialist schools in that figure. In return for specializing in a particular subject, they receive extra money from the government and from private sponsorship. They might also be including church schools in that figure as they would be receiving part-funding from religious organizations. In both cases (specialist and religious) the main funding comes from the state and are therefore not private schools.

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