Schools: did yours define your life chances?

Does the school you go to determine your future prospects? If so, is it fair that some have fees and entrance exams and others don’t? Katie Hopkins reckons that without grammar schools the clever kids are being held back. Others say grammar schools mean only the well-off get the opportunity. What about all these private schools and academies?

Someone explain! That’s what Scenes of Reason is here for.

What types of school are there in the UK?

 

Most people go to State School a.k.a a comprehensive. They are state funded and run by the local authority (council) and stick to the national curriculum. The curriculum is a set of subjects and standards created by the government. It’s all the things students should leave school knowing. Useful stuff like Pythagoras Theorem and don’t put your hand over a Bunsen burner.

 

This graphic tells you everything you need to know about UK schools.

Infographic explaining differences between UK school types

 

There are just under 25,000 schools in the UK (including nurseries, special schools and pupil referral units).

 

Around 80% of these are state funded. Only 10% of schools are private schools which charge fees.

 

There are only about 250 grammar schools across England and Ireland, and they flat out don’t exist in Scotland. There used to be a lot more but in 1998 Labour banned the creation of new grammar schools.

 

Social Mobility???

 

Social mobility ain't easy

Social mobility ain’t easy

The UK schools system is supposed to enable social mobility. This is a person’s movement over time from one class to another. When you hear “social mobility” in the news it’s probably about upwards social mobility. For example, the ability of an individual from the underprivileged classes to move up to the middle classes.

 

Private schools offer scholarships so smart kids without wealthy parents can attend for free. Grammar schools don’t charge fees but only let the smart kids in – so smart kids of all backgrounds can mix with other smart kids and not be held back by kid who don’t do as well in school.

 

That’s the theory of how it’s supposed to work.

 

Thing is, only 7% of the UK population have a private education – but a massive 71% of senior judges have private education (they earn massive dollar).

 

If everyone had equal opportunities regardless of what school they went to, then less than ten times as many private school kids would end up judges. Just saying.

The majority of the UK don't have private education, but the majority of the cabinet DO.

The majority of the UK don’t have private education, but the half of the cabinet DO.

 

The same goes for 44% of people on the Sunday Times Rich List, 54% of the top 100 media professionals and 50% of the current Cabinet (prime minister David Cameron’s top team).

 

Soooo… can we blame the UK school system for these inequalities in later life? This is a debate that has been going on for ages. People seem to get very pissy about it.

 

The Grammar School Debate

 

Just to remind you – grammar schools don’t charge you a penny, but they will only take you in if you pass the 11+ which you sit, umm, when you’re 11.

 

A lot of people reckon it’s totes not fair to sort the smart kids from the dumb ones at such a young age. It’s especially unfair, these people say, because this kind of testing doesn’t actually select the smart kids, it selects the kids whose richer parents were able to afford private tuition. A kid who is just as smart but whose parents lack the time, money or inclination to make sure they pass the 11+ is much less likely to get into a grammar school. Ring a bell anyone?

 

 

Then again, seeing as grammar schools tend to have way better academic results than state schools, a bunch of other people reckon that providing bright underprivileged kids with opportunity to go to these schools is worth it, because they will leave with much better prospects for getting a job they wouldn’t have done otherwise.

 

As columnist Katie Hopkins puts it:

 

Heavy angry stuff. And we were all caught in the middle of it just a few years ago when we were school age. Does where you are today prove that it’s the wealthy smart kids who get in over the less wealthy and non-tutored bright sparks? Or does it prove that selective schools like grammars offer better opportunities for smart kids, regardless of their backgrounds?

 

 

School Findings; there is massive angry debate over what is best for the kids.

There are many individuals who prove that our education does not have to define us. Yet, there would seem to be a more systematic problem with elitism in the UK. Are schools to blame? Or would these people have ended up in the top jobs regardless of the school they went to, because of other things like family wealth and connections?

 

 

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