Dave and Sam Cam’s decision to send their daughter to a state school has understandably made headlines. Nancy Cameron was destined for the over-subscribed, selective, seriously posh Grey Court Hospital Academy ever since the Tories started cooking up their General Election campaign. Whatever the Cameron’s motives are (*coughs*…focus groups) you can’t blame them.
When it comes to your child’s education choices, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
The holidays meant that my family undertook what can only be described as ‘extreme-socialising’ cramming in as many get-together’s as Mr R’s liver would allow. I’m as guilty as the next person for bringing up schools when talking to other parents but not anymore.
Over the past two weeks I discovered that whatever patter you trot out, be it proximity to home, Ofsted, league tables, state Vs fee-paying, church, special needs, curriculum blah blah blah…the person you are talking to will be listening and simultaneously placing you in one or more of the following groups:
a) P.L.U (People-Like-Us)
b) social climbing psychopath
c) rich social climbing psychopath
d) pseudo-intellectual champagne socialist
e) socialist verging on communist
f) over privileged
g) under privileged
We ALL do it, even if we don’t mean to, it’s ingrained. Our education system is so intricately woven into the British political class system that such conversations between parents can often be thinly veiled social filters or just another cause for oneupmanship (yawn).
Most of the school chats I’ve had were useful and light-hearted but on a few occasions I could feel my blood slowly simmering and disappointment fall as the person you thought was PLU came across as a mean-spirited snob with a tinge of racism.
The choices people make for their children are extremely personal and no one has the right to judge or be judged. I know of an instance where two families fell out over the old stateVs private debate as if the parents declared “the local state secondary might be good enough for your kids but not for mine.” That, of course, was not the case, they worked late a lot, the son likes the after school sports clubs and they could afford it. End of.
Listen guys, no one is thinking of your feelings when they are considering options for their children’s education…it really isn’t about you. Each and every family is different, and some parents spend months, even years, thinking about schooling…whilst others may just pick the closest school to their house, get on with life, and feel guilty for NOT worrying about it enough.
There are millions of families in other countries who lack any kind of educational infrastructure and kids who would love to learn but their parents can’t afford it and put them to work instead – when you consider this, it’s easy to move away from the conversation.