(Original post by jadomcp)
On a slight digression first, did you agree with me about the charitable status issue? You never replied...
Anyhow, I shall address this point now. I think that this is a prime example of someone commenting on the nature of public schools without actually really knowing what they're talking about. I don't mean to patronise, but being, as I am, at one of these 'more elite institutions', as I have mentioned, I feel that I can offer an insight into the nature of public school students/families. I tried to earlier, but I know it was quite long and uninviting to read, so I'll try again.
People have this image of public school students and their parents all being horrendous snobs, contemptuous of the general public. This is so far removed from the truth that it would be mildly amusing if it were not so widespread. I can testify that most of the people from my school are completely down-to-earth, as are most of their parents. Yes, most of the people at my school are incredibly rich, but they are also normal. Having great wealth does not suddenly make you part of a different species, in fact, the people who do get scholarships from completely different backgrounds that come to my school fit in incredibly well and people are keen to show them as swiftly as possible that the stereotype is completely wrong.
Of course there are exceptions, but people should base their view of a whole system upon a few people. As for scholarships, ISC reports state that over 1 in 5 pupils receive financial help at both Harrow and Eton (probably two of the most 'elite' of these 'elite schools'). Obviously, this doesn't speak of total equality, but it does show that 20% of the pupils are from 'poorer backgrounds' as you put it, yet these schools manage to maintain their 'business models' well enough without incensing 'very rich' parents. It is a well known fact too that these schools wish to increase that figure - they make no secret of it - and yet they manage not to scare parents away.
These schools wish to provide the very best education for their pupils. I think it is clear that they are doing this - look at the dominance of privately educated adults in public life (half of the Cabinet/shadow Cabinet alone were privately educated). This shows not that there is something wrong with these schools, but that there is something wrong with the state system. Sadly, at the moment, the only way that these schools can afford to do this is by charging extortionate fees that price 90% of people out of the market (before you say it is more, 7% of people are privately educated), but most, their pupils included, hope that this can change and maybe, with the introduction of academies, the system really will and if not, then hopefully, one day these schools will have saved up enough of their assets to be able to be needs-blind. At the moment, the system is unfair, I agree, but I also think that it is the best of a bad bunch as it were. Perhaps that is only because I have the enormous privilege of attending one of these amazing schools, but I honestly think that they are working towards good ends and that the failure of the state system should not mean that these schools get battered just because they are doing a better job. At the end of the day, if the state system were doing its job, then no-one would have any need to privately educate their children.
P.S. Please do reply to this, I put a lot of effort into it because I genuinely want people to understand what public schools are like and not be so prejudiced against them for reasons that are misguided and unfounded. If you have any more issues, please feel free to ask and I'll try and offer my defense as best as I can. I simply want to give public schools a legitimate defense on this thread, rather than just letting them get lambasted, and then, people can make up their minds and if everyone still thinks they're awful, then so be it, but at least they'll have both sides of the argument.