Man in £5 million debt as he struggled to pay school fees

Nigel Ford's picture
An article in the Daily Mail reveals a reversal in fortunes as a speculator's overseas venture ruined him

After his UK property business fell flat due to the slump in prices this guy took out a loan of £3.3 million against his mansion to invest in the property market in Romania so that his children could continue to board at their public schools. The enterprise was a con and he now faces the prospect of losing his Devon manor house and he and his family being left homeless.

His nightmare is compounded because not only does he not work but he refuses to let his children attend nearby state schools so they are hometaught by his wife which means she can't enter the labour market. One of the daughters who was originally down for 12 GCSEs is now only taking 5 (about half as many than she would at her nearest comprehensive school).

The whole situation would be laughable if there weren't young people whose futures are on hold.

A fool and his money...
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Be notified by email of each new post.


Adrian Elliott's picture
Fri, 13/01/2012 - 15:33

I think the fact that the article appeared in the Daily Mail is the key to this story. The guy has probably read the Mail for years and believes every anti-state school story he has ever read in it.

Richard Desmond is an awful,truly dreadful man but why is he apparently the only person in either the media or political world who is prepared to treat Paul Dacre with the contempt he deserves?

Mind it is a bit like hearing Hitler criticising Stalin and trying to decide which to support.

ChampagneSocialistNetwork's picture
Sat, 14/01/2012 - 21:58

What is wrong with you people? the term fascism springs to mind.
If he doesnt want to send his children to the local grubby comp which your lobby preaches holier than thou but do whatever you can to keep your own children away from or get them tutored to compensate for the poor standards.
this is none of your busniess it for the family to decide whats best not you. On average if his daughter was to the local comp she would probally be expected to attain 5 Gcses if she were lucky anyway as the national average and there would only be about a 50% chance and also her grades would be based on what paper the comp alows her to take. Most of them are so lazy and obsessed with targets that aslong as an easy C is achieved they dont care about aspirations.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sat, 14/01/2012 - 23:05

Hello ChampagneSocialistNetwork.

"if his daughter was to the local comp she would probally be expected to attain 5 Gcses if she were lucky anyway as the national average and there would only be about a 50% chance and also her grades would be based on what paper the comp alows her to take. Most of them are so lazy and obsessed with targets that aslong as an easy C is achieved they dont care about aspirations."

It that what happened to you at your local comp?

ChampagneSocialistNetwork's picture
Sun, 15/01/2012 - 01:05

"It that what happened to you at your local comp?"

Most are like that if you try to state otherwise then you are in blatant denial. The shocking thing is I could name atleast five schools that were worse than the one I went to. Since
the gangs that infested those schools became prevalently entwined into the social fabric of the one I went to through random events and certain contacts/enemies they had there.
I saw it and I lived it not so long ago myself nearly 5 years ago I managed to escape but the damage had already been done. I wouldnt wish it on my worse enemies children such a fate.
No actually I didnt go to my local comp since my address didnt qualify me to go to my "local" comps that were close to being called decent which had a clever radius (laughable distance) catchment trick that priotized the middle-class kids from expensive houses while the rest had to pick from the bottom of the barrel schools as my mother did for me. Therefore I had to go to two different boroughs for my education both schools were ****.
the ones where I did qualify near where I lived were basically ghettos made out of the problem kids and trouble makers leftovers that the "upmarket" comps managed to uproot from their entry admissions using genius catchment radius anyone who wasnt. Also I should add one school is particular had a such a low pass rate even after millions had been spent on expensive buildings. But back onto your main question did this happen at my comp? Yes
Did such an experience lead me to becoming anti-comp and anti anyone who propels it to be something which is not that is a good thing? yes
Its not even my own experience that lead me to such views is watching what it did to my peers that convinced me.

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 15/01/2012 - 09:28

ChampageSocialistNetwork - your complaint is actually a call for a system which ensures a good, local school for every child. Your schools were neither local, nor fully-comprehensive. Your nearest school was comprehensive in name only as its intake was skewed towards more advantaged pupils, less challenging pupils. You are condemning a fully-comprehensive system based on your personal experience of schools which by your own admission were not comprehensive.

Your post also highlights the point that a school's results depends heavily upon its intake.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 15/01/2012 - 22:12

What happened to your peers ChampagneSocialistNetwork?

I'm also genuinely interested as to why your experiences made you anti-comp. It sounds like you were stuck in sink schools not proper comps but I'm not trying to put words into your mouth - just to prompt you to describe more if you're okay doing that.

I also went to a horrific school but I was lucky - my mum was able to get me out into a better state school in time for me to still get good grades. It wasn't easy for her and I know I was lucky and it might have been otherwise. Because it turned out that way for me I was able to take my really grim experiences and see them positively as a very useful learning experience which led me into a career teaching in schools in very tough areas and ultimately to understanding much better than I would otherwise have done.

But I wouldn't have seen it as being a positive experience had I not escaped from it. And I didn't have to deal with gang issues - just general violence and deprivation.

So write whatever you want to write but please do take time to describe stories about the realities of the life journeys you and your friends have had. I'm really interested and I think others who read this forum will be too.

It's best to beware of sweeping all teachers in tough comps aside as being lazy and obsessed with targets. As a teacher in this position who's always cared deeply about every child and gone the extra mile for any student I could reach and who's seem most of my colleagues being the same it makes me wary of your conclusions, but still interested in your story.

ChampagneSocialistNetwork's picture
Sun, 15/01/2012 - 16:57

You support open-door admissions not fair ones.
I dont believe in open door admissions some children who possess risk of disturbing and clearly have no interest in learning should not be allowed to ruin it for others. I believe that competiveness need to be struck into children so they understand the workings of the wider world if they have any chance of suceeding in it.
I believe in selection but the selection more down to the gifts and attributes of the child. One size does not fit all people have different talents and gifts that should be nutured and celebrated Comprehensive education doesnt do that only for Bohemian children whose middle class lefty parents can afford extra activities classes for and tuition on the side.

This is the patronizing analogy to equate the sucess of these schools due to their pupil "intake" , when actually its more down to parental intake.
I hate to break it to you but middle-class children does equate naturally brighter but more advantaged only. Its nuture over nature that effects this all.
You seem to believe in this generalisation as do the runners of this site when it comes to banding intelligence.
middle-class children = more brighter and inately academically
working-class children = not as brighter less intelligent
problematic children (bred from people who belong on Jezza) = dumb/illiterate

Rubbish! I will tell you what a teacher once said who had the experience of teaching in both state and private schools why schools that have mostly middle-class children or private schools do better then others. Its PARENTAL support that is what generates the latter to do better.
I hate to break it to you are by no means "superiority" in intelligence is a middle class gene.
Melissa Benn & Fiona Phillips along with the other champagne quasi-socialists believe that its their duty to help the poor little weaklings (as they see us) by controlling them through life force feeding benefits, telling them what to do because they are viewed as being too stupid or ignorant to comprehend their way through life especially when it comes to educating their own children.

In my comprehensive (yes that what is was) and the one I went to previous I made a promise to myself If I ever had children NEVER will I send to a comprehensive school. When our school had a program that was a short exchange between private and comprehensive children for a private school. A friend of mine couldnt believe the difference when she experienced a glimspe of what it was like in a private school she said it was like an education "paradise" she couldnt believe how the standards were so different .

ChampagneSocialistNetwork's picture
Mon, 16/01/2012 - 00:35

Thank you Rebecca but to go down that road would opening alot of bad memories and can of worms that I think is best left where it should but I will just give a glimpse.
Your lucky your mother managed to get you out of yours mine couldnt due to the catchment policy that the so-called "liberal" boroughs near where I live even when my appealed during a time when I was suicidal from having attended that hell hole the appeal was rejected . I had to attend that awful place virtually no teacher caught on that I was both dyspraxic/dyslexic which looking back probally was a good thing since I saw what SEN support basically
someone with perhaps 10 weeks training not alot of intelligence having to follow you to all your lessons like you were an imbecile and the school would of just put me in the bottom of everything with no chance of moving up if they did caught on.
even today I ask myself what did I learn there? the answer is the same, absolutely nothing other than having watch mine along with others aspirations rot away .

I dont know where to begin on what happened to my peers, some got expelled (after multiple attempts), some left at 16 to get jobs,some got pregnant, others went to do courses they would eventually drop out of anyway,some on the dole etc . Only a handful managed to get into decent Universities but these were all middle-class kids or ones from ethnic backgrounds where education was highly valued who had intensive parental support (alot of the time private tuition aswell) Many even retook the year to improve their results.
There was this one guy I went to school with a very bright boy although cocky and a trouble maker but articulately speaking he was on level above the teachers highly intelligent aswell.
Now he was someone that was wasted by a comprehensive education that held him back, he would be expelled for something minor compared to one girl who constantly escaped expulsion disrupted lessons but had political correctness on her side.
I think about him even now and wonder if he had gone to a private grammar even specialist school like for drama/performing acts what would of become of him? I tell you where he is last time I heard squatting and living on the street and taking drugs that is just one case I know.

Lets face facts blaming Comprehensive system failure which driven by ideology rather then reason on the success of either grammars or private schools is not the solution.
The solution is accepting it as a failed social experiment and moving on but unfortunately a lobby of idealists like Fiona Millar and Melissa are so adamant of not letting go of this format since they are driven by their own ideological beliefs that they cant accept they are wrong because they are driven by ideology and not reason. People as history has shown are dangerous especially when goverment matters are concerned when they let their ideals counterweight the reality.

ask yourself Why do most Labour MPs avoid such fate for their children yet preach on to us Plebs that we MUST send our children to these dreadful schools? because its all about keeping face while protecting their own. I refuse to accept this hypocrisy.

Yes they were comprehensives by name and nature. Denying this fact is denying the form of education (and lack of it) I recieved.

What happened to my peers? Hmph I dunno

ChampagneSocialistNetwork's picture
Mon, 16/01/2012 - 00:45

I dont paint all teachers with one brush in comprehensive schools but unfortunately many are either poorly inadequate at their jobs, poorly trained or with little experience to qualify them for such roles others barely qualified. Some of the teachers I had could barely speak English. Ofcourse not all teachers are like that but the ones who arent are often the old schoolers who are becoming a dying breed due to political correctness and these
new "trendy" teacher training methods that are warping the teaching profession into being something its not while others have the common sense to move away to fufil better positions abroad.
I was taught in the last year of English Gcse by someone barely older than me and who though hip-hop was poetry and deliberately diluted my grades due to her bias yet inflated the ones of hoodie friends who could barely read or string a sentence together .

Leonard James's picture
Mon, 16/01/2012 - 06:41

Look you seem to be blaming a form of school organisation for problems that begin before anyone gets near a school. Do you really think a fully selective system would solve problems associated with teacher training?

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Mon, 16/01/2012 - 08:07

What I'm going to try and do now, ChampagneSocialistNetwork, is to set your description of what it's like to be a student in such a school alongside what it's like being a teacher in a school in a tough area.

You turn in in the morning with registration and 5 lessons hours teaching in front of you. A substantial proportion of the kids are not in a fit state to be in lessons learning. This may be because they're still under the influence of alcohol or something else. It may be because they've been up all night because big brother was kicking all the doors off their hinges again and the police were out. It may be because they're a carer and they were on duty. It may be because they're going through an extreme phase of teenagerhood where their brain is not really functioning. It may be because they've got something or someone or some issue on their mind so they just can't concentrate.

What's actually amazing is that quite a lot of these students will actually be compliant and have no interest in disrupting the learning of others. The lesson of the day might fly straight past them and they may get their friend to help them with a few questions when they wake up and realise they need to get some done to avoid trouble. Those who are kicking off and seriously disrupting lessons usually have such issues it makes your eye water it's so hard to imagine.

It's a tough job just surviving the day.

Does this description sound right to you?

If not how would you change it?

If so, how do you suggest improving the experiences of students, like you, in these schools?

ChampagneSocialistNetwork's picture
Mon, 16/01/2012 - 20:08

Yes I can since the school CHOOSES on employing these useless or inexperienced teachers therefore its there responsibility for the failure of their peformance.
Ones thing for sure before conversion my school as a grammar exported writers,politicians,directors,poets etc hahahaha after it became a comp the best thing it could export to the public was a Z-list pop star that really speaks volumes for the pro-comp lobby.
I believe selection system would give pupils a broader choice and opportunity to meet their needs and fufil their potential to the higher. Whether that is to be a director or doctor , historian or hairdresser etc
You seem to assume like the educationalist snobs on this site I equate the
following as if a person is not academic therefore they are stupid and not really usefull for anything and is a failure. Which is wrong! and highly ignorant not everyone is academic or interested in academia ! I for example I am not really academic since Im useless at Maths and apart from English & History the other stuff bores the hell out of me I prefer practical stuff which involves drawing or craft . Why should I have stuff pushed down my throat until 16 that 1) I dont want to know 2) will never be of use 3) that distracts me from what truley interests me Why? so the educationalist snobs like Melissa Benn and Fiona Millar can pat themselves on the back at their dinner parties on how wonderful of a job they are doing in promoting this repugnant system.

Probally would not have belonged in a Grammar but a Techical school or Art College would of probally been happier there aswell considering the Art department at my comp was a laughing joke and my talents were wasted there that a vocation that once gave me joy had wilted. It would take many years for me to recover that spark.
You see you are not do anybody any favors by pushing us all to the lowest denominator.
That size does not fit me.

ChampagneSocialistNetwork's picture
Mon, 16/01/2012 - 20:59

Yes this all sounds familiar this is what happens when people are mushed together to fit this stalinist system determined to make factories out of schools. We are not all the same We are individuals.

I suggest the following
1) more scrunity over teaching profession (i think I already explained my spar with that although I dont paint all with the same brush, my teacher at college a raving eccentric but was fantastic at her job & inspiring cant say the same for my comp years)
2) selection based on applitude at 14 those who are academic may chose that path if they wish or are best suited likewise for those who arent by this age we have to be realistic although having a literate population is vital.
3) smaller classes
4) acknowledging one size does not fit all, did not fit me and never will
5) Snobby Educationalists like Gilbert,Benn and Millar back off from their crusade against private and grammar schools under their banner of "equality" holding bright kids back does not make the rest learn quicker. Melissa Benn's own brother had his daughter later Labour candidate shipped to TWO elite grammar schools. while the family preached to the plebs to send their offspring to the crummy comps.

6) stronger discipline towards those who need it
7) back to old school style where the teacher is the master of the classroom and their subject and educators to inspire not social workers
8) preparing children for the competition the world out there will be for them

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Mon, 16/01/2012 - 21:57

I suggest the following
1) more scrunity over teaching profession (i think I already explained my spar with that although I dont paint all with the same brush, my teacher at college a raving eccentric but was fantastic at her job & inspiring cant say the same for my comp years).

Can I suggest more intelligent scrutiny over the teaching profession? 'More' and 'stronger' will never deliver your objectives because specific aspects of the current inspection system are blocking progress with your other objectives.
In particular we need to work towards implementing the recommendations of the Hampton review of inspection and regulation in the UK to which Ofsted became obliged by law in 2009 and which it has deliberately ignored as it doesn't suit the directors. Essentially it works by getting inspectors to define and police unacceptable practice and ensuring schools are involved in proper internal communication and improvement but not by categorising what is good and what is outstanding as experience has shown this puts organisations and people in them in straight jackets and prevents healthy diversity and innovation.

2) selection based on apptitude at 14 those who are academic may chose that path if they wish or are best suited likewise for those who arent by this age we have to be realistic although having a literate population is vital.

There's a lot of good practice going on which should be spread. For example in one school I worked at students chose a pure academic, a vocational academic, an outdoor ed based, a college based or a special needs based stream at 14 based both on aptitude and knowledge of where the child is going to thrive. This can be done in different ways at different schools. Middle schools are great because you move at 13 to a big high school which can offer great diversity and you have a year to settle and experience what's on offer there before making decisions. In areas of dense population all sorts of combinations and opportunities are possible.

3) smaller classes

Not always necessary. For example given funding for 4 classes of 24 students a school might choose to create 3 large classes and have a floating teacher to work on cross training, creating resources and withdrawing different small groups or individuals at different times. This should be their choice.

4) acknowledging one size does not fit all, did not fit me and never will

See replies to points 1 and 6. Sadly a number of styles of teaching which might have suited you have been eliminated from the classroom because they are not Ofsted proof. The kind of teacher who inspired you at college has generally been removed by Ofsted and relentless top down mandates.

5) Snobby Educationalists like Gilbert,Benn and Millar back off from their crusade against private and grammar schools under their banner of “equality” holding bright kids back does not make the rest learn quicker. Melissa Benn’s own brother had his daughter later Labour candidate shipped to TWO elite grammar schools. while the family preached to the plebs to send their offspring to the crummy comps.

I dislike all idealism and always criticise it (and have particularly criticised Melissa for her views on for example Grammar schools) but I like both Melissa and Fiona who are both exceptionally well informed, interesting and dedicated people. I not actually met Fiona, I've just heard her speak at consultations and read some of her articles and I only met Melissa briefly for the first time last week. I don't know the others at all. It's best not to write of people completely just because you dislike some things they say.

6) stronger discipline towards those who need it

Before Ofsted in good LAs you'd typically get a very strict school (no arguing, heads down and work) near a very liberal school (boundaries negotiated, lots of creative discussion and freedom) with perhaps a school with a reputation for excellence in vocational curricula/music/sport down the road. Some kids need strict dictated boundaries, others hate them. Many parents have preferences. Most kids thrive in a wide spectrum of good schools. If they're not thriving it's good to be able to shift them to something completely different.

If only free schools and academies were actually going to achieve this kind of diversity that would be great but sadly they won't. They're just an unpleasant distraction from the reforms which would really improve things which are inspection reform and progress in the technological journey on from high stakes narrow assessment to the much more sophisticated and liberating forms of low stakes diverse professional tracking which are now possible.

7) back to old school style where the teacher is the master of the classroom and their subject and educators to inspire not social workers

This is a complicated one. If you're going to let the teacher be master in their own classroom you have to trust their professional judgement. I did a great deal of watching children. Often if I had to send a child out I would send out the one who clearly was carrying more than they could bear to give them some down time and an opportunity to talk/ask for help when I went out if they wanted that. Some kids need more than just being taught knowledge - they need specific support to get them from today to tomorrow. Is it such a bad thing if a school contains teachers who are at ease being that kind of teacher?

As I look back over the years I see adults who've led much more fulfilling lives because I sat and listened to them and helped them make good decisions when they needed guidance or specific support. This reality gives me an energy and a passion for teaching which I love. It sits easily along side my preparing them well for exams in my experience - it doesn't contradict it.

8) preparing children for the competition the world out there will be for them

Yes. I'm wondering what's in your mind when you say that?

Leonard James's picture
Sun, 15/01/2012 - 08:06

I agree that many schools deserve to be challenged over low expectations but some of your other complaints are confusing. It seems unreasonable to blame a school for all the problems associated with its catchment or for the target culture imposed on the system by successive governments.

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 15/01/2012 - 09:42

The long, very long, article in the Mail quoted the father as saying that he didn't want
the "traditional values and good manners" that he had been brought up with "eroded".
Leave aside the argument that "good manners" do not necessarily depend on "traditional values" (in this case it would be anything of which the Mail approves), it is highly probably that if if his children have been brought up to respect other people then they will not lose this quality when exposed to other people. They do not live in a bubble, and it's likely that they would encounter crassness every time they leave their home.

Even if the children reach Oxford, they will meet bad behaviour. There's even an organisation dedicated to boorish antics - it's called The Bullingdon Club.

ChampagneSocialistNetwork's picture
Sun, 15/01/2012 - 14:29

@Leonard James my school wasnt even that bad compared to others I was aware of at the time therefore I am not being unreasonable at all. In the part of the country I live now the schools are even worse, I can tell just by the limited knowledge most people have here and how very few have qualifications. the problem is the concept of a size fits all in education terms that is thorn here trying to implant this stalinist system that discourages individual talents and achievements that even the Germans rejected when East Germany was liberated.

@Janet you have no idea what its like going to schools where the chavy dominated culture encourages low aspirations low achievement and ignorance if you did then you understand the point of view this father is trying to convey instead of naively brushing it aside. Having gone through the experience myself and watch children whose parents couldnt afford private school fees then chuck them to our school I saw how in a matter of time these children went from being academically knowledgeable, high achieving and innocent to becoming either sexually promiscuous , underachieving slackers or indifferent to learning and morphed to fit with the environment.
Again I will say it if he doesnt want to send his child to a grubby comprehensive where the only thing she would probably learn anyway is how to become a slapper among girls mostly whom have the main expectation in life either to become a WAG or Glamour model, then leave the man alone. He is doing the right thing.

Leonard James's picture
Sun, 15/01/2012 - 15:51

@CSN I'm well aware there are poor schools but you can't go around blaming them for for problems they haven't caused - target culture being one of them.

Leonard James's picture
Mon, 16/01/2012 - 20:40

@CSN Firstly there isn't an endless supply of experienced teachers who have been trained the way you want at some point schools have to employ NQT's. Secondly if a school employs a rubbish teacher then it is the fault of the SLT if they had the option of better candidates - it seems a nonsense to blame a system of organising schools for poor management or training.

You also seem to concluding that a selective system means more choice which doesn't make sense.

ChampagneSocialistNetwork's picture
Mon, 16/01/2012 - 21:17

There is not enough that is my point! NQT teacher I have no problem with aslong as they are not sent to teach students at their final years. Especially ones who are barely in their 20s with little or no experience of professional work. send them to teacher year 7s for a few years to build their experience then trust them to teacher upper school.
This happened to me twice both times cost me alot although I stilled passed those subjects.
No Its not, have you not heard me explain my school was not even as bad as others I was aware of during my time pthers were basically a squalor. Im not one blaming school Im blaming them in general because my school was not isolated for its failures.
Do you know what the term Academy means to me? just another failing comp that instead of going to closure applies for that status to save its skin from a bad rep and failing results thinking it will make it more "up-market" and the extra cash will boost figures.

What do you think Comprehensives mean choice? Please far from it.
What does selection mean? choice, the old system had an exam choose and had basically only two formats with few technical schools. I do not support this approach I support specialist schools through an overall progress not only exam to decide and if the pupils belongs in an Art Colleges Drama schools and Tradeschools or even the Army etc the German system is fairer in model and would produce a better skilled workforce.
Only education snobs want to pretend that only academia matters since they look down on tradesmen.

Leonard James's picture
Tue, 17/01/2012 - 06:56

You do get that children were more or less sorted into grammar schools - there wasn't choice in the way I understand it. I'm not saying there is choice in comprehensives either but one has to ask do parents want choice or just good public services - I don't think the governments policy addresses quality at all.

I'd agree there is some merit in new teachers having life experience but you could make this argument about any profession. Even older NQTs need time to adjust to the realities of a profession that is unrealistically managed.

Jane Eades's picture
Wed, 18/04/2012 - 11:35

Interesting reverse argument by CSN. Surely s/he should be arguing that the family in the article are benefit scroungers? They have the choice to send their children to state schools but, instead, presumably are claiming benefits in order to home educate! One rule for those who were rich enough to become bankrupt and another for those who weren't?

Add new comment

Already a member? Click here to log in before you comment. Or register with us.