The Great Divide

“Faye did rather as expected – 4 As; 5 Bs and a naughty C in French which she’s studied since she was 7!!  How lovely of you to be interested!” I responded to Jane, our lovely ‘Pretend Granny’s’ kind enquiry regarding my 16 year old daughter’s GCSE results. And, without thinking about it, to everybody else on our ‘thread’, which actually related to Mum’s health. In our world these grades are nothing special.  If she’d been at Eton or somewhere, she’d have been kicked out with anything less than six As!

I received a slightly curt response back from one of my favourite people in the world, who has been Mum’s staunchest rock and support for more than two decades, never once letting her down whatever else was going on in their tiny hamlet in deepest, darkest, remotest Dorset.  This lady’s family were delighted with their son’s results of 5 C’s and 1 B, she told me: “I suppose that’s a reflection on the divide in our education system.”

Agh! What to do or say to that? She is absolutely the very last person in the world that I would ever want to offend. She is just the kindest, most thoughtful, long suffering, patient and friendly individual, and I know Mum’s not the only one she loves, and looks after so well.

To reply, or not to reply, was the question.

So I did what I thought my dearly loved and most highly respected Dad would have done, and undertook some research.

God I am shocked! Now I understand what the point of the massive private school fees is!  ‘The great divide’ is nothing short of scandalous!

I discovered that this year, 2/3rds of children altogether achieved A-C grades in GCSE’s, so that compared with the national average Faye’s results are outstanding! I also found that at A’level, the titchy number of private schools, compared with state schools and colleges, account for literally double the A/A* grades awarded! No wonder people go to such lengths to pay, if they possibly can!

I don’t know what should be done to balance things out. I hate it that the two educational systems exist. My suspicion is that were they to scrap private schools, then all the rich people would move to live near the good state schools and price everyone else out of that location. There doesn’t seem to be an answer, yet the level system seems fine in France and America and everywhere else.

I have always absolutely hated it that the current system separates my children from potential friends around here, and am thrilled that Freya has since reconnected with her old mates through working in the local pub/hotel/pony club etc..

The whole thing is deeply unsatisfactory and absolutely infuriating for everybody concerned. At least the universities are trying to equal opportunities up a bit. I had a guest here only last month, whose son achieved straight A*s throughout his GCSE’s and A’levels at Eton, yet he was refused entry to Cambridge – presumably in favour of somebody from a less privileged background.

I apologised profusely for my crassness.

Chippy People

I’m losing my nerve re going public with this blog malarky.

To do so, one of the things I suppose I’ll have to do is post about it on my Facebook page. My page currently boasts 268 so-called ‘friends’, most of whom I would imagine are Faye’s mates from the local pony club, and at the moment it’s listed under my maiden name – Mary Nicholson.

On the one hand, there’s boring close friends and foreigners witless with monosyllabic complacent me me me posts from my comfortable middle-class home, moaning on that I’m too broke to buy a new horse or something, and that none of my on-line dates feel comfortable discussing private schools, hunts, and yacht moorings.

But it’s rather different, putting yourself out there in front of people such as those following Rachaele Hambleton’s occasionally extremely dark posts – where women can’t actually afford to feed their own children; or are living in genuine fear of having their throats cut, or of their children getting stabbed to death by their abusive crazed fathers.  Despite all her selfless campaigning, Rachaele still receives some unpleasant and very negative messages. Yet hers is a completely different scary alien world to the comfortable, privileged, easy, complacent, smug place that I inhabit – what on earth are these sorts of trolls going to say to me? Perhaps they’ll stick a bomb under my car?  Do I really want to get involved, and be completely shafted as a result, by people who aren’t interested in reading jolly, life-enhancing, lightweight drivel about how posh people ‘live the life’, by chippy women who prefer to stick a pin into everything? My skin is not very thick.  This might turn out all to be a very hurtful, self-indulgent, waste of time.