No, I’m not talking about gussiying them up in the nearest fee-paying school’s uniform and taking out a second mortgage to pay for it all. I’m wondering if there might be some merit in some parent-funded add-ons at the local secondary.
We all know local authorities are broke and we all want the best for our youngsters. Right? But schools are so skint they can hardly afford text books while, at the same time, parents shell out for extra tuition.
So why not set it up so we can pay extra for bonus education – a little more for the better teachers, smaller classes, fancy optional subjects?
And before an eruption of outrage flows at me, it’s not as if education is anything like a level playing field. The really wealthy simply remove their children from the egalitarian system and pay for them to have a privileged education at a private school.
But that’s not the end of the story – between the private school parents and the mums and dads who simply send their child to the school the council tells them to, there is whole spectrum of spending on children’s futures.
We are lucky to live in the catchment area of one of Scotland’s best state schools. I say lucky, but the school – and the accordingly inflated property prices – is one of the main factors for many people moving here. Elsewhere, parents exert what influence they can to ensure their youngsters get places at the schools they want them to.
Once in school, we mothers and fathers are endlessly involved in the raising of money for school – whether baking cakes, organising events or just opening our wallets.
And beyond the school gates, we employ tutors and buy books and study aids, and that’s before you start adding up the non-mainstream costs such as music lessons and participation in sports.
So how would it be if things were more direct? A tariff if you will. Our extra cash can be directed where we see it necessary. Extra lessons, smaller classes, sixth years, optional subjects or better equipment? Clearly there ought to be a standard scholastic service – three Rs, science, one language and some computing, say. But more than that and you’re paying…
If your offspring detests a subject and loathes the teacher, what if you could pay for them to be in the class of a teacher they prefer? They might do better in exams.
Or, if they’re really good at, say, art or computing, then their education could be geared to that so they’ll be much further along when they leave school.
Obviously things would be better for the paying parents, separate school shows and parents nights. No tepid tea and home ec biscuits for you, nope, a decent Chardonay and some good olives.
What do you think, direct finance for your child’s future or the ad hoc, scatter-gun non-system that happens now?