I’ve been reading with mounting horror a thread on Nappyvalleynet about schools. The thread is called ‘State till 8’, a phrase I’ve only just recently become aware of, and now find, abhorrent.
State till 8 is the practice of some parents who take up a perfectly lovely local primary school place for their child in the full knowledge that they will move them regardless to a prep school in year 3 (aged 8).
Their reasons for doing this, as far as I can tell, is to ensure they get them into a ‘decent’ private Secondary School without having to pay fees for a prep school from the moment their child officially starts school.
State till Eight is clearly about saving money on school fees, and whilst we can all applaud the concept of saving money – the direct result of this nasty little practice is the disruption of all of our children’s lives.
Despite the fact that I don’t like our current education system, I do support parents rights to choose the path that they feel is right for their kids. That said, it’s not really a fair choice because most people can’t afford to ‘choose’ anything other than their local school. If they can get in of course. But still, each to his or her own and all that.
But, State till Eight is not about choice, it’s about being anti-social and putting your child in a situation whereby they indirectly harm the chances of another child’s education.
This issue is not just about the poor kids pulled here and there for their parents irrational yet rampant fear of State education. It’s the children who lose out every year on a place in the school of choice because of these sharp elbowed Mummies and Daddies.
Of course these are also the very parents who can afford the rent or house prices in the better school catchments, so there’s a sense of cheating the system twice over.
Then, you have the children left behind in the now clearly inferior State school when Tarquin is moved on. And then, and of course all the siblings of the first lot who didn’t get a place, who now also won’t get a place because some people want to save thousands of pounds by taking a school place they have no intention of keeping.
Some schools are trying to deal with this vile little phenomenon by asking parents at the open evening that they only apply for places if they are going to stay with the school. It would be nice to think that appealing to the parents sense of morality would work, but let’s face it, with this kind of parenting there is no morality when it comes to educating their children.
We all know that the best way to support the State Education System (other than get rid of Michael Gove obv.) is to put your child, and your time into it. But for those parents who clearly have no faith in themselves, or their children, perhaps it’s time to hit them where it hurts – in their pockets?
I’d like to see an exit fee charged for parents who withdraw their children from State Schools to put them into prepatory schools. Perhaps that way they will think twice about saving themselves money whilst depriving other local families of school places?
Failing that I would love to see these ASBO parents tagged so that their winter ski trip and summer decamp to the house in France/Cornwall/Tuscany is forfeitted. Bad enough we have parents misusing religion to get into selective schools but taking places in those schools and then ditching them for private really is low.
Rant over. Let’s lobby parliament. Seriously. I hear you can catch some of them at the school gates of your nearest prep school. After eight.