"Hypocrisy" of private tuition?

Nigel Ford's picture
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When middle class parents elect to send their children to the local comp rather than choosing a state school further afield which is higher up the league tables or remortgaging the house to go private there are often accusations from opponents of double standards if such a parent pays for private tuition to augment their child's school teaching. This usually takes the form of "no different from paying for a private school" or "if the teaching isn't good enough it's unfair on classmates who's parents can't afford it" as if our principles have been compromised.

I think such criticms are completely spurious and ill founded. How can there be any moral equivalence to supporting your local school and promoting community values with opting out and going to private school? What is wrong for wanting your child to secure a better exam grade?

Nobody supports their local school which doesn't happen to have the best exam results in the neighbourhood when other choices are available, on the basis that we are happy to sacrifice our kids education on some politically correct principle. We weigh up the decisions accordingly and decide that there are more pros than cons in having the child educated locally. I do think however think that there can sometimes be an altruistic motive in supporting the local school.

For the record I never paid one penny for private tuition for my kids education or sought outside help of any kind. Fortunately my Economics degree (where I somehow managed to crack integral/differential calculus) enabled me to help my daughters with Maths (my son was pretty good anyway) and when my eldest daughter was booted out of German for misbehaviour and relegated to set 2 where they didn't even take GCSE, I enquired about transferring to French classes. This was not possible due to timetable clashes so in year 10 I started teaching her from scratch and when she was able to join French classes in year 11 at school, she passed the GCSE with flying colours. My wife also helped the kids with revision in science.

Finally, I don't think the Blairs were in any way culpable in getting private tuition for at least one of their children. My only observation is that bearing in mind the London Oratory where their sons were educated has the same sort of intake as many selective independent schools with exam results to match, I might conclude that private tuition is as much the preserve of children in posher schools than their more humble counterparts.
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