(Original post by jadomcp)
First, people not at public schools are in no position to comment on them whatsoever. Now, I would like to debunk a few public school myths.There are always facts and figures that the media love to wheel out, but what they always fail to tell you is that the vast majority of pupils at Britain's elite public schools (one of which I attend) are, in fact, normal, British teenagers. There is an image of people being brought up with a silver spoon in their mouth but a lot of people are either a) on bursaries (more than 20% of my year are) or b) are scraping around, saving everything they can in order to get through public school. The reason for this is that there is something extraordinarily special about British public schools that very few people understand. The holistic nature of the education and the encouragement and effort put in by teachers is phenomenal. Everybody at my school knows that they are extremely privileged and lucky - we are not blind to that, but is it our fault that there is a better education out there? Of course it's grossly unfair, but so are a lot of things in life and it's really the government's duty to improve the state system.
The high percentage of public school students at Oxbridge is not a success of public schools, but a failure of state schools. This is proved by the grades that public schools achieve compared to state schools (obviously there are exceptions, but on the whole, 'elite' public schools achieve grades that are incomparably higher across the board) Oxbridge wants to take the best students and those are, on the whole, those with the best grades. They try their hardest to spot potential, but at the end of the day, you need to get the grades and it is no secret that that is significantly harder at a state school - this should certainly not be the case.
I would also like to point out now that, despite the high number of public school students at Oxbridge, there are in no way 'reserved' places. In fact, it is this myth that I find most vulgar, because there actually exists a distinct discrimination against public school students, especially those from 'elite' public schools in Oxbridge applications. This is why I absolutely detest this myth - students who are perfectly capable, in fact, probably more capable than other students, are rejected simply because of their education as Oxbridge tries to shed its reputation for being a preserve only for the rich and privileged. This is why this myth is so ugly - it is clearly perpetrated by those jealous of public school students who have managed to get into Oxford and are begrudging them their success. As for the 'training' that supposedly goes on and the ability to 'jump through hoops', this is complete rubbish. Any knowledge of the Oxbridge interview system would immediately debunk this - no amount of training can prepare you for an Oxbridge interview and there are no hoops to jump through. So, this is ridiculous.
Furthermore, the excellent grades and Oxbridge entrance rates are by no means universal throughout public schools. There are a few 'elite' public schools that do achieve very high grades and Oxbridge entrance rates, but that is because they have very stringent entrance tests, which allows only the most intelligent of pupils to pass. Now, imagine the environment that this creates - an environment, where, rather than being shunned, intelligence is celebrated and academic study is encouraged heartily. Obviously, this leads to good results academically, but imagine if the state were allowed to do this - the results, surely, would be similar. So, it is not simply that some public schools somehow have a magic 'path to Oxbridge', it is that they are very selective and the atmosphere that this creates encourages excellence, which is appreciated by Oxbridge. If more schools were to follow their example, I'm sure similar results would follow. This is another example of the state failing education, in trying to be too 'fair' and nice (although academies are a good step forward).
Finally, I would like to say that, although the fees are ridiculous, I know they are, this is no reason why the schools should lose their charitable status. They are still educating our young and still provide many people with scholarships which give them amazing opportunities, which they would not be able to do without charitable status. Also, we try our hardest to give back to the community, we appreciate that we are extremely lucky and so we try and help those around who are not so fortunate, mentoring those in local schools in English or Maths so that they can achieve better grades and hopefully go on to better jobs. We do not simply sit in our chairs, burning cash and laughing as some people seem to think - we are more conscientious than others imagine. The school that I attend has a vision that one day it will be needs blind and that it will be a school for the most intelligent children in the country to attend and thrive and without charitable status, that dream would not be possible.
So, please, reconsider, at least, your position on public schools and please don't base your view on what you read in the media - they have an agenda and they want to sensationalise everything, so before you form an opinion, listen to both sides of the argument.