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The risks to children of British public schools.

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Re: The risks to children of British public schools.

Postby erolz66 » Wed Nov 20, 2019 3:34 pm

Getting back on topic, I am going to explore for a bit this idea that schools like my old one, Bedford School, are 'charities' and not 'businesses'.

This is from the Bedford School facebook page (red arrows added by myself)

business.jpg
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Re: The risks to children of British public schools.

Postby erolz66 » Wed Nov 20, 2019 3:40 pm

Given Bedford School has chosen to configure it's fb page as if it is a business , inviting 'reviews' of it's 'service' I decided in turn to write my own review as someone who's parents purchased this service for them. Below is my 'review' based on my own personal experience of the service sold. I included it here just in case it somehow disappears from Bedford school's fb page.

I attended Bedford School from the age of 13 to 16 in late seventies to early eighties. My time at Bedford School was defined by their failure and inability to diagnose or understand my dyslexia compounded by the commercial need to place the blame for this failure solely on me as an individual child. As I had received good marks in Latin in my common entrance exam I was forced to study O level Latin at Bedford, which I did not want to do or have any interest in and blocked from doing Design and Technology which I did want to do and had great interest in and enthusiasm for in. I have little doubt this was a result of Bedford School placing its own commercial need to be able to advertise its classics result ahead of any real consideration for what was in my best personal interest as an individual child. I was also forced against my will to take German which I had no prior knowledge of or interest in, again because this was what was best for the School and regardless of what might be best for me as an individual.

Their failure to diagnose or understand my dyslexia and the need to place the blame for the consequences of that failure entirely on me, the child and 'customer', resulted in them actively creating an environment of a 'battle of wills' between me and the school. The more they unjustly blamed me for my dyslexia, cast it as lack of effort on my part, on laziness, on me not applying myself properly and placed me in detention and then later on head master report card as their approach to dealing with my dyslexia the more they drove me to just withdraw entirely. Their idea, at that time, of 'pastoral care' was to have my year head literally reduce me to tears by bullying and berating me, a 15 year old child, over and over for 'wasting my parents money' by not 'applying myself sufficiently' for 'having no concern for the sacrifices my parents were making in order to pay the considerable fees to attend Bedford School' and the like.

Having totally failed to understand my dyslexia, having forced me to take a curriculum that was in the Schools best interests and not mine as an individual child, having actively turned my educational experience in to an unjust and unnecessary battle of wills that I could only lose, they then informed my parents that it would not be 'in my best interests' for me to enter the 6th form after my O levels and regardless of what result I achieved in those exams. They also made it explicitly clear that 'in my best interests' I absolutely should not be told of this decision until after I had completed my O levels and my exclusion from the School by their decision was a 'fait accompli'.

Having left Bedford at the age of 16 and having had my relationship to formal education severely poisoned by their failure and their need to blame me, the child and 'customer', for those failures in order to absolve themselves entirely of any blame I then entered the work place, securing a job as a 'post boy' at Iron Trades Insurance company. Two weeks after starting this job I was called in by the Head of the Office I worked at, who had previously interviewed and hired me, and told they had just received my references from Bedford School. I was told that had they received such references before hiring me they would not have hired me at all based on those references alone. He showed me and read out parts of these references from Bedford School that were a damming indictment of me as an individual ending with a conclusion that 'Bedford School could not recommend me for employment by Iron Trades Insurance with any enthusiasm or confidence what so ever'. Thankfully given my performance at the job in the 2 weeks from initial employment through to when the Bedford School references arrived, the head of the office said he would be willing to ignore such references and allow my employment to continue. Thus Bedford School's attempts to 'stick the boot in' even after I had left the School as a result of their throwing me out because of their failure as paid educators, came to naught.

If what Bedford School sold my parents had been a normal commercial offering I would seek a refund for the tens of thousands of pounds my parents paid to Bedford School on the basis that they had failed to deliver the service they had sold. However as a 'charity' Bedford School is not covered by such basic consumer law protections. Even now an acknowledgement from the School of their failures as educators and their attempts to undermine my future after having excluded me themselves and an apology would be welcome. I am not however holding my breath waiting for such an acknowledgement and apology.
Based on my personal experience at Bedford School I cannot recommend it at all.
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Re: The risks to children of British public schools.

Postby erolz66 » Wed Nov 20, 2019 3:53 pm

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews ... artel.html

It started after prep one evening. Two mischievous 15-year-olds had managed to hack into the school computer and, bored by humdrum e-mails, were reaching for the "off" button when a file marked "confidential" stopped them in their tracks.

It ended last week with 50 of the country's most prestigious private schools, including Eton, Harrow and Westminster, facing multi-million pound fines after a two-year investigation by the Office of Fair Trading found them guilty of fee collusion and running a price-fixing "cartel".


Hmm 'charities' found guilty by the office of Fair Trading of fee collusion and running a price-fixing "cartel" !
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Re: The risks to children of British public schools.

Postby erolz66 » Wed Nov 20, 2019 6:52 pm

Another documentary - 'Boarding Schools: The Secret Shame - Exposure' 2018 Documentary (ITV)

can be seen here https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6o02rf
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Re: The risks to children of British public schools.

Postby Pyrpolizer » Thu Nov 21, 2019 12:24 am

I 've read it all and many of the links.

Now a few questions just to get a more global understanding:
1)What kind of school did you attend before entering Bedford Erolz, and what about your dyslexia from the age of 6 to 13?

From what i learned so far,it looks these "prestigious" private schools in the UK rely a lot on alumni donations. Since the alumni are the most suitable to have first hand information about those institutions, assuming they were so rotten then

2.a)Why do they donate and what %age of the budget comes from such donations ?
2.b)What percentage of say the Eton graduates do send their children to Eton as well?

NB. Once again Paphitis, the topic is about the British private schools not the Australian ones. It's obvious to me there's a big difference despite some similarities.
Should I start dismissing Erolz's arguments by referring to the Cypriot private schools? There are no incidents in Cyprus like what Erolz described for the British ones, they have no boarding, they are just private that prepare mostly the rich for further education in UK. Nobody is proud of them (probably some are for the ES myth), but that's all. Also a large part of the students are foreigners who don't speak Greek.
I would never send my children to a private school in Cyprus considering the overall "neo plutocratic" environment full of dumb rich kids let aside that i consider the matter of wearing uniform and ties and training to "discipline" just hot air.
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Re: The risks to children of British public schools.

Postby erolz66 » Thu Nov 21, 2019 11:13 pm

Thanks as always pyrpolizer for your thought provoking question. Low on time right now but I will reply when I can.
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Re: The risks to children of British public schools.

Postby erolz66 » Sun Nov 24, 2019 10:38 am

Pyrpolizer wrote:1)What kind of school did you attend before entering Bedford Erolz, and what about your dyslexia from the age of 6 to 13?


Until the age of 8 I went to the local north London comprehensive school, what Londondrake would describe as a 'ghetto state school'. From 8 - 13 I was then placed in a traditional British prep school Aldwickbury. 'Prep Schools' are the public (meaning private) feeder schools for schools like Bedford, Harrow,Eton etc etc. From there I went to Bedford school from the age of 13-16.

I have some memories of the effects of my dyslexia whilst in the state comprehensive school. I have clear memories of struggling to learn my 'times tables' as one example. I was aware that the 'technique' of learning by rote
via repetition was just not effective form me as it was for the other children around me. I remember 'working around' this problem by essentially reciting my times tables out loud by actually doing the addition in my head whilst reciting them. I also have memories of struggling with 'left and right', as to which one was which and being aware that others did not have this problem. However I have no memories whilst as my state comprehensive of ever being singled out or blamed for these things. Now clearly some of this is age related. I was not in state school past the age of 8 so I can not know how things would have progressed from there. I do believe however that the very fact that 'public' schools charge creates a different dynamic in such situations. In a state school, with a situation like mine whereby there is a 'problem' but it is not understood there is not the same pressure on educators to blame that problem on me the child. In a fee paying school there is such a need for if the problem is not solely the child's, then that means it has to be in part that of the educators who have sold themselves as paragons of 'excellence' in education to justify the fees they charge. In a fee paying school environment there is a commercial need to place the blame solely on the child that just does not exist in a state school environment.

So whilst I have no memories of being singled out or blamed or punished for my dyselxia in any way whilst at state comprehensive this all changed very quickly once I moved to Aldwickbury school. One of the clearest manifestations of my dyslexia was that of reversing certain letters when writing. So for example I could write an S one way round and also write it the other way round and I was simply incapable of determining which of the two was the 'correct' way if I could not reference a 'correct S' printed or written example, no matter how long I stared at the two options. Aldwickbury's approach to help me with this was to get me to sit in a classroom alone, whilst my class mates where on 'break time' and I could hear them outside laughing and screaming and playing, and to trace page after page of printed 'S's (and other problem letters) over and over, with tracing paper placed over the pages of printed letters. This approach to 'helping me' with my 'problem' was entirely ineffective and yet was maintained long long after it was clear that it was making no difference at all. The rote act of tracing an S the correct was round for hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year had no effect on me being unable to 'know' which way round was 'correct' when faced in isolation with a S written the right way round and the wrong way round. Despite the patent clear failure of such approaches to my dsylexia the problem was continually and persistently cast as 'my fault'. Explained away as me not 'applying myself sufficiently', of being a function of 'laziness' on my part and the like. I did not know what was going on any more than the school did but I did know that there was an inherent 'injustice' in how the school was behaving. In addition to my 'solo' tracing 'help' (read punishment) at Aldwickbury I was also placed in a 'remedial english class' there. Now this was not as bad as the 'solo' stuff for the mere fact that it was not 'solo'. In this class there were a range of children with different situations and challenges. My dyselxia for me did not manifest in any problems with reading at all and I read a lot myself by choice and as an 'escape'. The manifestation of my dyselxia were all related to writing not reading. In remedial english classes much of the time was spent with children in turn reading aloud. I had no problem with this at all. Many others also placed in remedial english class did have such problems.

So these are my memories of the effects of how the different types of schools, state and private, dealt with my dyselxia. Even today I hear parents talk about their own children having 'learning difficulties'. If learning is about an ability to grasp and understand concepts and ideas then I had no 'learning difficulties'. Personally I do not see children with learning difficulties so much as I see educators with teaching difficulties. In some ways because of the way my dyselxia manifested in my individual case, because in spoken word it was clear that no one could label me 'stupid' or 'slow', I was 'lucky' compared to many others with dyselxia who were simply written of as 'slow' and 'stupid'. Instead I was written of as 'lazy'.
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Re: The risks to children of British public schools.

Postby erolz66 » Sun Nov 24, 2019 12:23 pm

Pyrpolizer wrote:From what i learned so far,it looks these "prestigious" private schools in the UK rely a lot on alumni donations. Since the alumni are the most suitable to have first hand information about those institutions, assuming they were so rotten then

2.a)Why do they donate and what %age of the budget comes from such donations ?


This is two question which I will do my best to address in turn. However I would point out that donations do not just come from alumni. In march of the year in which I was to later to start my first term at Bedford School after the summer holidays, Beford school was burnt to the ground. Now of course the school was insured. Of course no 'discount' on fees were offered to those who studied at the school whilst the building was out of service and had to make do with temporary 'terapin' classrooms. Despite this the immediate reaction to the fire was to start a massive and emotional appeal not just to alumni but also to parents like mine, who had not themselves gone to the school or any like it and who's child (me) had not even started at the school for donations to help fund rebuilding the school. Now I do not know for fact that my parents contributed to such fundraising efforts, my father is no longer alive and I have yet to confirm with my mother but it is not hard for me to imagine my father's response to the begging letters sent out to him by the school to have responded with 'write them a cheque'. Nor were such fundraising efforts isolated to tragic events like the fire and the repeated calls for donations over years that this event led to. They were constant. Like the calls by the school for donations to help the building of the new state of the art indoor pool complex and sports centre. To some degree there must have been for any parent a 'fear' that if they did not donate to such fundraising calls that this in turn might lead to repercussions for their own children in the school. I will be talking to my brother about this, who sent his son to Bedford school, despite and in many ways because he had not gone to such a school himself and see if things had changed much over this next generation. To see if he was receiving constant 'begging letters' from Bedford school leading up to and whilst my nephew attended the school, as our parents had leading up to and whilst I was a pupil there. To ask him about how 'pressured' he felt by such letters and if he did donate in response to them or not.

Anyway as to the specific question 'why do alumni' donate to schools if they are so bad, I will bundle my response to that in with addressing your question '2b' as they are both about the psychology of why alumni parents do or do not send their children to the same schools as well as why they do or do not donate to such schools.

As to thew question of 'data' in terms of what % of a schools like Bedford's budget comes from such donations this is a fascinating (to me) subject. You would think that, especially as registered charity, it would be quite simple to answer that question from publicly available sources. Well I have tried to some degree in the example of my own old school, Beford, and that assumption does not hold and in fact just attempting to answer the question 'how much money did Bedford school receive in donations in a given year and how much of that was via 'gift aid' and thus earned a 25% bonus from the government on top of the original donation' is in itself 'telling' in many ways in my view.

So the charitable trust that Bedford School comes under is the Harpur trust. It has it's own very professional website complete with a section 'Numbers'. Great surely this will answer my question. Er no. Lot's of 'numbers' about what the trust has 'given out' but nothing about what 'came in'. OK I am prepared to do a little 'digging' to find my answers, put in some effort. So they also produce an annual report which for the last year is 59 pages long. Surely in there there will be a simple and clear answer to my question. On page 23 there is a terse 'statement on fundraising' which reads as follows (I also note they have actively disabled the ability to copy paste from the pdf report)

fundraising.JPG


Hmmm. So 'no monitoring processes are required' and 'the trust has not subscribed to the Fundraising Regulator'. Hmmm. In addition the claim is that 'fundraising is carried out at the individual school level and is only undertaken for specific campaigns'. Really ? So going to Bedford School's website in the section 'foundation/giving' you find the following page https://www.bedfordschool.org.uk/foundation/giving/

The Foundation is very grateful for all the support it receives from Old Boys, current and past parents, and friends of the school.

Your donation makes a real impact for current and future students of the school. We are committed to making continual improvements to academic and pastoral facilities, and to the provision for sport, music and the creative arts, to provide all boys with an education that is second to none. Along with effective planning of fee income to maintain the site we rely on the generous tradition of giving to achieve major developments, and we need your help. If you are able, please do help us in any way that you can.


Complete with links for 'make a gift' and the all important 'gift aid' option whereby you gift is topped up top the tune of 25% by the government. Of course no clear and simple information on how much has been gifted and how much the government has paid from taxpayer funds in 'gift aid'.

to be continued...
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Re: The risks to children of British public schools.

Postby erolz66 » Sun Nov 24, 2019 12:50 pm

Anyway going back to the Harpur trust annual report. By page 35 you get the overall 'statement of financial activities' for the year ended 30 June 2018 starting with the income and expenditure account. Must be some 'answers' in there ?

income.JPG


The first thing I note is that money raised from school fees and money spent on running the school are all listed as 'charitable activities'. So the income from 'charitable' activities breaks down as follows

incomedetail.JPG


FFS I just want to know how much was donated, not paid in fees but donated in addition to fees, to the Harpur Trust and or Bedford School and how much money the government added on top as gift aid. This is getting no where. Time for a different approach.

To be continued
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Re: The risks to children of British public schools.

Postby erolz66 » Sun Nov 24, 2019 3:19 pm

So on my 'journey' in trying to answer the question , derived from Pyrpolizer's earlier question, of 'how much does the UK government pay in gift aid each year to public schools' I have been unable to find any answers and clarity from looking at the websites and annual reports of a single example (Harpur trust / Bedfors School). Maybe I am just using the wrong approach. Maybe a 'top down approach' would be better. Google knows everything so let's try a google search of

"how much did the uk government grant in gift aid to public schools in 2018". Surely that will lead to some clear figures (like by comparison a search for "how much did the UK government grant in foreign aid to india in 2018" does). You would think so right ? No sorry. No clear answer to my question with that search. Some interesting links but not ones that answers the question. Interesting links like

https://www.ft.com/content/1093fcec-187 ... 6390addb44 (that is the financial times, hardly a bastion of left wing socialist thought)

The phrase “Gift Aid” somehow suggests there is free money available. There is not. If Mr Fairburn gave his £10m to his favourite museum, the rest of us would instantly be down the equivalent of 100-odd primary school teachers for a year. The more goes in Gift Aid, the less there is left for public services.

Add in other state subsidies offered to official charities (business rates relief, VAT relief, exemptions from capital gains and dividend taxes) and the money redirected from the state to registered charities starts to add up: the subsidisation of the charitable sector in the UK costs well over £6bn a year.

This situation is not unique to the UK. Most countries offer tax credits of some sort for charitable giving. But the UK is remarkably lenient. We put very few limits on Gift Aid (even the US limits it to 50 per cent of earned income), we refuse very few applications for charitable status, and we do little to regulate existing charities.

That’s not good. The state urgently needs cash to spend on most people’s priorities: transport, infrastructure or education, for example. The ideal behind the progressive collection of taxation is the creation of a large pool of funds that can be used to pay for the provision of the services demanded by an electorate. Letting people opt out of this system and direct the money they owe in tax to one special interest undermines democracy.

The problem is particularly bad when practically no discretion is applied to what kind of organisation counts as a charity.


They then go on to give a couple of examples, like 'religion' and 'homeopathy' but noticeable by its absence is any example of 'private education'. ANother interesting article, that also does not have the answer to my question would be

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... p-benefits

Private schools don’t act like charities, so let’s strip them of the benefits.In subsidising wealthy people instead of helping poor children, they perpetuate inequality in education and beyond.
From a child’s early home life, through exams, to university admission, social and economic inequality is ever present. What’s the grand plan to deal with this? Last week, education minister Nadhim Zahawi suggested his own priority: a government-backed scheme under which 40 private schools provide boarding places for looked-after children. Referencing Jeremy Corbyn’s 2017 manifesto proposal to abolish the VAT exemption on school fees, Zahawi told Newsnight that Labour “would never be able to abolish” private schools if they helped to improve the life chances of vulnerable children.
Advocating using children in care as human shields to protect private school funding is a particularly grubby move, but does point to how unreasonable this debate is. In a climate in which the state sector is so starved of resources that the Guardian reported this week that some headteachers now spend more than half their time fundraising for essential subjects, charity status has increasingly become contentious. Even Theresa May pledged in the Conservative 2017 manifesto to force independent schools to sponsor a state school or risk losing their tax breaks (she later quietly dropped it).


A grubby move indeed and one that 'Paphitis' tried to pull in the context of such schools in Australia.

Anyway there at least and finally some figures here. Not the ones I am looking for but something at least.

These are not insignificant sums. Between 2017-22, private schools will get tax rebates totalling £522m as a result of their status as charities.


Yet when you follow the link to this https://www.theguardian.com/education/2 ... ch-college you discover this figure of 1/2 a billion is the loss to the treasury just for business rates relief. This figure does not include revenue lost from VAT relief on fees or from git aid donation top ups from government. Some other 'data' that again is not the question I am trying to answer but is of interest is this

Business rates firm CVS sent freedom of information requests to councils, and responses from 132 showed that 586 out 1,038 private schools held charitable status and were granted the mandatory relief.


So this does not cover all public schools but does give an idea of the 'ratio' of how many public schools from the total have charity status. When yopu zoom in on this pretty much all the 'big name', 'classic public schools' from Eton, to Harrow to Winchester through to 2nd tier ones like Bedford have such status.

So STILL no answer to the question "'how much does the UK government pay in gift aid each year to public schools"

To be continued
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