January 11, 2007

Ban Private Schools

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In recent days, everyone from David Cameron to Chris Rossdale have weighed in with their view on Ruth Kelly sending her child to a private school. I’ll save you from mine, but I’d like to recommend a book for anyone interested in the debate: How not to be a hypocrite by Adam Swift. It’s recently been one of the most important references for an extended essay I’ve written for one of my politics modules, but I’d highly recommend it to anyone interested. It’s written for parents, rather than so-called poltiical scientists.

That essay argues for the outright banning of private education. I’d love to put the whole thing up here for anyone that’s interested, but probably shouldn’t, given it’s taken hours and is worth 15 CATS. Nevertheless, seeing as I can tell you’re dying to hear it, I can give you a quick run down of what I believe is the strongest argument for their banning.

Given that our social circumstances are a matter of pure luck, we cannot deserve anything that follows from them. We should therefore seek to remove their influence. In other words, we should strive towards equality of opportunity. Of course, this is never going to be perfect, it is right that we allow parents to read to their children, because of the importance of the family, even though this gives them an unfair advantage. Let’s assume that private schools do provide a better academic schooling. If we take, for example, two children of equal ability, who would otherwise be level on the ladder for jobs and university places etc and that only one attends a private school. His (assumed) superior education pushes the state school pupil down the queue. The resources of his parents allow him to ‘jump the queue’. It is often said that we have the liberty to do what we want provided it does not impinge on others’ lives. My argument is that in jumping the queue, the affect one has on the lives of others is too great and should therefore be outlawed, just as is physical interference with others.

That’s the essence of my 5000 word essay cut-down to 120. Let’s hear the criticisms!

UPDATE: Seeing as I appear to have a fairly high Google rating for ‘Ban Private Schools’, I thought somebody out there might want to read the whole thing, now the degree is long gone!

Ban Private Schools.doc

- 68 comments by 1 or more people

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  1. If employers and Universities discriminated against people from fee-paying schools that would even things out wouldn’t it?

    11 Jan 2007, 10:02

  2. I’d say theoretically, yes ,that would even things out, BUT is totally impractical. How much would they discriminate? Would this depend on the fees paid or the percieved qulaity of the school?
    Moreover, I think there are further strong arguments for their banning such as the positive effect that would follow from the de-segregation of society…

    11 Jan 2007, 10:14

  3. Fran

    Are our social circumstances a matter of pure luck? For example, the past two generations of my family have worked hard to raise our social status. If I went to a private school, you could argue they they’ve worked hard to put me through private education, they deserve to see me do well.

    11 Jan 2007, 12:26

  4. The main issue I have with your argument is the following line:

    It is often said that we have the liberty to do what we want provided it does not impinge on others’ lives.

    This is in principle so, but in reality it is totally unachievable to the extent that you seem to want it. For example, if I were to go and ride a bike down the street, I have the potential to run into someone and cause them injury, impinging on their life. The logical conclusion of this sentence, when taken to it’s absolute, is that no-one ends up doing anything. In practice then, it requires rewording to something like …does not impinge unreasonably on others. In my cited example, it is not unreasonable because the risk of running into someone and the consequences of that incident are acceptably low when put against the alternative of stopping everyone riding bikes.

    Additionally, as Fran points out, the social circumstances into which an individual is born are a matter of pure luck on the individual’s part, but rarely on the part of the family unit as a whole. The premise of your argument is that a higher quality of education is a gift which affluent parents can give to their children, and that this gift is unfair becasue not everyone gets it. By the same premise surely, all forms of financial gift/aid from parent to child would be banned as being similarly unfair? My parents paid for my driving lessons and my first car, should this not have been allowed because not all parents can/do give their children these things?

    11 Jan 2007, 12:49

  5. That essay is the biggest load of bollocks I have ever seen.

    Why don’t we just ban rich people? That way no one gets ahead in the queue. Oh wait, then there would be no taxes going into the state school system, or the NHS.

    Let’s make state education even worse than it already is by adding everyone who goes to private schools to the school population. Brilliant idea.

    11 Jan 2007, 14:05

  6. Anon.

    I can’t say I agree with you Al.

    Firstly If it weren’t for Private Education the strain on State Education would be enormous – taxes would inevitably increase and no one would see a benefit. The government would have to build literally hundreds of new schools, fit them out and pay teachers. This would be a huge expenditure that frankly the government couldn’t afford to do… not without raising taxes dramatically.

    Without trying to sound like to much of an arsehole it is people like me who went to private school who not only contributed to lower class sizes in state schools but also paid for someones education at a state school (as well as my private school fees) because my parents were still paying taxes that went toward an education I wasn’t making use of. As a result those who go to Private Schools help state schooling a hell of a lot both financially and physically.

    Thus the argument about the privately schooled child “jumping the queue” is fallacious as without private schools neither child would benefit – class sizes would be much larger, taxes would increase (putting financial strain on all families) and very possibly neither child would receive as effective an education. With a system that includes private schools it allows both children to enjoy smaller class sizes and better funding. I recognise that this would leave the privately schooled child with possibly a better education but again this can be debated.

    A teacher in a private school does not have to have a teaching certificate or PGCE to teach at the school so in a small minority of private school teachers they are LESS qualified than a state school teacher. To assume that the standard of teaching in a private school is better is also a bit odd – why do you assume that the best teachers go to private school? I know many incredible teachers who teach in state schools. Don’t equate private school with better individual teachers.

    Lets not also forget Grammar Schools in all of this. These are elitist state schools as they require higher entry requirements and in many cases recieve more funding. Surely these are worse than private schools based on your argument?!

    I’ve been educated both privately and at state schools so I know what both are like and frankly i think having private schools help to to keep the balance of education in this country as without it the government would be under enormous pressure.Take this hypothetical example: an area in which the local state school is under-funded, over subscribed with lots of teachers dropping out. The introduction of a private school would mean that pressure would be alleviated from the state school as it could take those pupils who could afford to go. This would mean the funding the state school receive goes to fewer children which means they can see greater benefits and so the school begins to flourish. Thus an equilibrium is reached whereby all children receive a better education. This was the case in my area – my parent sent me to private school as the local state school was in dire straits – had it been that the local state school had been performing better I would have almost certainly gone there.

    I genuinely beleive private schooling brings balance to education in this country.

    11 Jan 2007, 14:47

  7. Alex, as yours was a politics essay rather than a philosophy one, I take it you also considered the real world at some point (i.e. funding, localised impact, probable reactions of those affected) – or does that not come into it?

    In the interest of continuing the debate, and as your argument is very similar to that presented by Chris on the entry to which you’ve “tracked back”, I re-post my comment from the other conversation:

    Chris was suggesting that the principle of equality of opportunity means people with the means to influence the quality of their child’s education should choose any state school over any independent. But the drive for equality can’t stop there surely, unless the same people believe all state schools are equal. The same logic that rejects independent schools demands that every child be taught at the level of the lowest. It’s a backward proposition.
    As a thought experiment, what if independent schools were banned from the end of this academic year (presumably in such a way that home tuition wasn’t also made illegal)? At a stroke, you increase the demand on state education by 12% without gaining a single penny more to pay for it. Presumably, all existing independent schools are absorbed into the state system, simply to provide capacity. Teachers at many independent schools receive sizeable pay cuts and have to reform timetables and curricula. Those schools can no longer afford the same level of IT & sports provision and must abolish some of their most educational field trips. In short, the quality of education drops significantly in those schools without it improving one iota anywhere else.
    Many of the independent schools would become scarcely less “elitist”, as they are likely to be in areas with high house prices – as with many of the best state schools, where parents are ruthless in trying to get their kids in, and then feel very proud of themselves that they didn’t spend what would sometimes be a comparable amount of money on an independent education.
    Let’s skip the grotesque caricature that parents of independent school pupils all have millions in the bank. The majority make significant sacrifices to their lifestyles in order to help their children. Those parents would not be willing to make the same level of personal sacrifice to pay a general taxation bill, even if all the extra money went direct to schools. That’s not selfishness, it’s human nature. Taxation must be a uniform thing, i.e. everybody would have to pay more tax – and a lot more, just to keep the current level of funding per state pupil (remember the 12% increase in pupil numbers).
    Lastly, a misnomer Hol and Chris [and Alex] used: they’re independent schools, or public schools if you’re old-fashioned; they’re not “private schools”. That’s a different animal altogether.

    Finally, George, the idea of discriminating uniformly against independently educated people is ill-thought-out nonsense. It discounts the fact that some people who go to independent schools are extremely intelligent and capable. And if you advocate discriminating against less capable, independently educated individuals who have been helped by their school, why should you not (by the same logic) also discriminate against equally less capable, state-educated people who happened to have had an especially good teacher pulling them through? I can think of no answer to that one other than “jealousy”.

    11 Jan 2007, 17:37

  8. A few responses:
    Fran: I would argue the children of rich parents deserve those circumstances just as little as children who live in Baghdad deserve to be born there.

    Christopher: I agree with your opening paragraph. This is a shortcoming of my summarised version, you are right. However, we do seem to disagree on whether sending one’s child to a private school should be considered ‘unreasonable’. Imagine a continuum of actions that parents can take to benefit their child, with murdering one of his/her rivals for a position at one end and reading a bedtime story at the other (this is an example given by Swift). Somewhere in between is sending one’s child to a private school. As my post mentioned, I do not believe that we should remove parental influence altogether. It seems we disagree as to the point where parental influence becomes unacceptable. It probably is unfair that Bill was fed on M & S food as he grew up, whilst Bill’s parents shopped at Asda, but I believe it is not something we are justified in interfering with. The reason, I argue, we are justified in interfering with schooling is that it is so vital to who we become as human beings. We spend roughly 15,000 hours in school during such a vital stage of our lives that I feel we are obliged to ensure everybody has the same chances.

    Kunal: Thanks lol. There are several differences between outlawing inequality in wealth and simply trying to minimise the effect it has on the education of children. I can go into these if you like. There is also another argument says that the mere presence of private school pupils in the state sector would improve those schools.

    Anon: Surely the parents wouldn’t mind paying taxes if it was going to their children’s schools? They wouldn’t have to pay school fees any more! Even if they still resented taxation, I’m not suggesting that my argument is popular, simply that it is just. Your argument about the overall cost is probably true to an extent, but I would say exaggerated, given the enormous tax breaks private schools get as a result of their charitable status. Moreover, an increase in tax for the top earners would resolve these issues (not for discussion here).
    I would say that the inclusion of private school pupils would actually improve state schools. In very general terms, they tend to have parents more able/motivated to help and the increased concentration of such pupils in the state sector, would help to raise others up, rather than damage them.
    I don’t necessarily equate private schools with better teachers, in fact far from it. That was an assumption made intended to streamline the argument that private schools are better at getting top exam grades out of their pupils. Two Warwick professors (Naylor and Smith) have some interesting work related to this. Whether they actually provide a better education is irrelevant, as opposed to whether they improve exam grades.
    I don’t think the argument that state schools could not cope stands up either. Of course, they could not as things stand now. It would involve a huge upheaval, both politically and in the education system. Nevertheless, that does not change the questions of justice. State schools would need improving and expanding. Yes.

    I’d also like to add that I’m not stupid enough to think that this is going to happen any time soon. Still, whilst you may not agree with me, your posts have not yet convinced me that my argument is wrong at the theoretical level .

    11 Jan 2007, 17:45

  9. We could always bring back assisted places and/or grammar schools, which also discriminate on ‘luck’ – in this case the luck of being born bright – but perhaps a more justifiable form of luck than that of your parent’s wealth. Given that the assisted places scheme is unlikely ever to be brought back, perhaps it would be a good idea if all independent schools established bursary funds that could mean about 15 or 20% of their intake were bright children from poor families. I know that some independent schools already have schemes like this up and running.

    The argument against this is that it runs down the state sector by depriving it of the best kids; on the other hand, presumably it will also mean that the less bright children of wealthy parents may be forced into the state sector if they are not academically good enough to get into the newly more competitive independent schools, which would lead to greater social integration and perhaps more rich-parent pressure to improve state schools.

    11 Jan 2007, 18:04

  10. Alex – if we have a duty to ensure that everybody has the same chances, surely we should be more concerned about the massive variation in standards at state schools, which affect over 85% of young people who are educated there? If a child is “lucky” enough (read: their parents are living in a good area and can afford the premium on house prices for being in catchment areas of the best schools), then they may well attend a state school that gives them an education every bit as, or maybe even better than, a significant number of private schools. The difference between a good state school and a bad one is much greater than the difference between a good state school and a private school. If it is equality of opportunity accross the board you want, you’d be much better placed focussing on problems within the state system first. Maybe have a quota of a minimum number of drug dealers attending all state schools to ensure that the best ones have the same share of problems as the worst?

    11 Jan 2007, 19:28

  11. Fran

    That’s not my point bozo. My parents have hard to earn the money to put me through private schooling. THEY deserve to see me do well, have earnt the right to watch their children be succesful. What I deserve doesn’t have anything to do with it.

    11 Jan 2007, 19:32

  12. Chris

    Alex you are completely biased towards state schools because you went to a pretty good one where high house prices kept at least some of the worst ruffians away. I can’t wait for your re-assessment after you make your mark at a tough north london comp.

    11 Jan 2007, 19:33

  13. The ideal system would be if all schools had sufficient funding that there wouldn’t have to be a distinction between state and fee-paying schools in terms of quality. As it is, if you got rid of fee-paying schools the well-off parents will still give their children a comparative advantage by employing tutors to help them do better in exams, just as they did/do to get them into grammar schools. You would get rid of the old boy network to a certain extent, but then well off parents would probably find a way to get round this too (maybe we’d see a resurgence of the masons?).

    I’m generally against banning things unless there’s a very good reason to do so, but I’m sensitive to the fact that differences in education exacerbate different outcomes later in life which increases inequality and makes a just society more difficult. If ever there was a reason for an infringement of liberty, that has to qualify. However, you’ve also got to think about whether or not it would actually work. Practically speaking, it seems to me that if the outcome you’re after is a more equal society, you’d be better off working towards improving state education, and reducing the effect that a fee-paying education has later in life. As an example of the latter, I know that the Cambridge college I went to gave me (a student from a fee-paying school) a much harder interview than other people who went to a state school. This is only fair, and actually helps the university get the best students instead of the best-prepared ones. Not all Oxbridge colleges interview in this way but more and more of them do because they are under a lot of pressure over the fact that most of their students are from fee-paying and selective schools. Similarly, making sure that job application procedures are transparent and based on which candidate is best for the job, and not based on networking, would help in this.

    The problem is that improving state education is likely to be a costly enterprise and this very right wing country we live in seems to have no taste for substantially increasing taxation (whether that really represents the views of the population or is a side-effect of the economic constraints on democracy is another question). So where does that leave us? We can’t improve state education because it’s too expensive, and banning fee-paying schools wouldn’t improve the situation either.


    11 Jan 2007, 19:37

  14. Chris

    And a serious points:

    1) If you ban private schooling you are making it much more difficult for parents to spend their extra income (hard-earned or otherwise) on something that has a large positive impact. If we presume that they don’t choose to spend this money contributing to the local school that their child must now attend, since the benefit would be distributed accross many children, and in whom they have no interest, we should ask what it would be spent on? A porsche for the child to park outside the school gates? A rolex ( or an omega..) to flash about? The point about private-school parents effectively “paying twice” adds more weight to this argument – even if you presume that a private education system adds no positives to the country in itself, their taxes are still helping to pay for anothers education.

    Admittedly you would clearly love to live the communist dream with a totally equal soiety. What communism has proved is that without incentives (and what biologically is stronger than the urge to see you genes pass on down the generations) people won’t work as hard. In this case allowing people to pay for a good education has a positive eternality as they work hard to find the funds to pay for this education. Ultimately this will benefit everyone in the economy (especially as the more they earn the more tax they could be paying…). I suppose in essence this again boils down to your “where do you draw the line at what you can do to help your child” but the consieration of opportunity cost (sorry to sound like an economist) is paramount.

    11 Jan 2007, 19:52

  15. Surely the parents wouldn’t mind paying taxes if it was going to their children’s schools?

    What about the parents who would have to pay more taxes to support the enlarged state sector, and whose children already go to state school? Can’t imagine they would be over the moon about this.

    Besides which, if there is one thing I have concluded when it comes to tax, it’s that the statement “Surely X wouldn’t mind a higher rate of tax if it was going to do Y” is almost always, without fail, false. We’d have had successive Liberal Democrat governments if this wasn’t the case.

    Instead, we’ve had successive governments of both red and blue variety who have all clung to low (or “apparently” low) taxation as a central plank of policy.

    12 Jan 2007, 13:36

  16. Oliver

    Many children are born without access to education at all. So by your argument we should ban all schools, and also other such public services.

    12 Jan 2007, 14:10

  17. Oliver

    “Given that our social circumstances are a matter of pure luck, we cannot deserve anything that follows from them.”

    In fact, through the ‘bad luck’ of being born into poverty, many people are unable to survive childhood. So should we ban life altogether?

    12 Jan 2007, 14:26

  18. Alas Oliver doesn’t understand. By “not deserving X” it’s meant that there’s no moral right to have X, but it leaves open whether there’s some moral ground for being denied X.

    E.g. I don’t deserve bar of chocolate, but unless anyone else has a right to it, there’s nothing wrong in me having it.

    12 Jan 2007, 17:22

  19. I agree that there is inequality within the state sector and that, as things stand, parents can buy their children a better education by moving into certain catchment areas. For this reason, I favour the introduction of a ‘bussing’ scheme that takes some children to schools in other parts of their LEA. This has been tried with mixed success in the US.
    I think that if the only way for parents to improve their children’s education was to pay higher taxes, I do believe that most would (perhaps grudingly at first) do so. I’ve readily admitted that there is no political appetite for these changes as things stand. Nevertheless, I think Chris’s charge that this my argument is somehow representative of a communist dream is somewhat a straw man. In fact, I accept that people (as things stand) need economic incentives to work harder (to a greater or lesser extent). However, the inequalities that would follow would arguably be more justified if they resulted from a situation of equality of opportunity.
    That said, Chris’s argument that preventing parents buying extra education is economically inefficient certainly has some mileage. On the other hand, I’d argue that there is a huge distortion of the signalling mechanism as things stand. Allowing parents to buy their childremn a better signal surely also creates huge economic inefficiency. If I’m honest, I don’t know which of these two would be the greater effect.

    12 Jan 2007, 21:36

  20. keith

    It is interesting that one poster here thinks that adding public school pupils to state school would make it worse- is that because they would dilute the attainment stats without being propped up by additional resources and specialist teachers? This is an interesting point!

    13 Jan 2007, 02:16

  21. Peter

    I went to a working class state school stuffed full of scum and lefty middle-class hating teachers who resented my intelligence and middle-class accent. I wouldn’t send my kids to these backward hovels full of bullies, borderline psychopaths and educationally subnormal rejects.

    13 Jan 2007, 02:20

  22. Higher taxes would be very ineffective in education. There were two secondary schools near where I lived. One was sponsored by Mircosoft and had loads of money while the other one (my one) had little money and it showed. However my school was the better of the two. The reason for this was purely because of the type of students that went there (it was a bit in the countryside and so you needed a bus journey to get there). Increasing school spending will make little difference as in the end of the day it’s the people (the students, parents, and teachers) who make the school what it is, not things like computers. The problem with the comprehensive system is that teachers have little power over what they do, parents are given no responsibility and have no say over what happens, and the students are made to feel like pawns in a greater socio-political game as they go through on the conveyer belt- hence they are all alienated from the schooling system. As I argue here http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/seankelly/entry/education_vouchers/, the way to solve the education problem is not by forcing all schools into state control but rather by liberalising all schools to become independent schools so they can more closely connect with the interests of students/parents/teachers.

    13 Jan 2007, 17:29

  23. Sean, higher spending on schools won’t improve them on its own, but probably improving schools will involve spending more on them. Teachers pay is fairly low for the education level required of teachers, and it’s considered a low status job (which may be connected with the pay). Also, the working conditions are quite poor. So why would anyone become a teacher? Class sizes are too large – one primary school teacher I know has a class of 36 and this is not unusual. Smaller class sizes means more teachers means higher spending. I’m not saying these are the only things that could be done to improve schools and I’m not saying there aren’t things that could be done that don’t cost more money (although I’m dubious about your suggestions, anecdotal evidence set aside), but it seems likely that spending more will be necessary.

    For reference: average spending on state school students is £5,000/year and for private school it’s £8,000 with top schools like Westminster charging £16,000 and Eton £24,000 (although it’s a boarding school so you’d expect it to be higher).

    13 Jan 2007, 18:53

  24. mick

    If you really believe in equality of opportunity, then what would you suggest be done with very good or very bad teachers? I had an exceptionally good maths teacher who could not only teach brilliantly, but inspired me, and other in my class to do fantastically well in the subject. This, to extend your argument gave me an unfair advantage over other children who did not get that opportunity but were only taught by ‘average’ teachers. So, sack the good and bad teachers and only allow the average teacher in the class room?

    I found it pretty funny that in framing your argument about public schools being bad, you chose to refer to a male pupil; maybe we should ban sexist people like you at the same time we ban private/public schools… ;)

    14 Jan 2007, 09:33

  25. Matt

    I must take issue with many of the points Alex makes and totally agree with Sean’s comments on the issue of greater spending. From my own experience what really makes a school is pupils and teachers, not some fancy new interactive whiteboard.

    Further, as Lucinda points out even in good state schools there is most definitely a culture (particularly among boys) that learning isn’t cool, and whilst i am not sure many people are actually bullied for this reason some are definitely discouraged from working hard and trying to learn. I seriously doubt that reintegrating the public schoolers, who make up only 7 % of the total population would solve this. Thus, why should we ban a category of school which helps many people, for what can only be described as a small possibility of improvement?

    There are some other objections concerning, liberty of the individual, and the logical conclusion of Alex’s thought being that we should ban the family since it is in my view parents as much as schooling that determine the fulfilment of potential. However, this would take a substantial amount of time to elaborate on.

    Finally, Mick, you are a complete and utter idiot for claiming Alex to be sexist simply because he uses a male pupil (incidentally most of the famous public schools are all-boys such as Eton, Harrow etc) it is a ridiculous comment and totally beside the point.

    14 Jan 2007, 20:58

  26. Gareth Herbert

    This dyslexogate scandal that’s sparked this hypocritical leftist intellectual masturbation is possibly the singularly most pathetic news story I have ever read. Quite frankly I would be very concerned had Ruth Kelly decided not to do what she felt was best for her child on the basis of political expediency. It appears that so many people advocating state education for everyone seem to favour the “luck” of where a person is born over the “luck” of whether or not their parents earn a sufficient amount of money and are of an ideological disposition that would send the child private as part of some misguided “fairness” extravaganza.

    It is right and proper that parents strive to do what is best for their child, whether that is getting them the best proper medical care available, sending them to the best school in the region or whatever. I appreciate the fact that this next point is almost entirely emotive but I don’t particularly care: This Thursday there was a racially motivated attack by the older relatives of a gang called the “asian invasion” at the school I used to go to, they jumped a kid who was leaving the grounds, held him down and nearly beat him to death with a hammer – he’s still in hospital. My younger sister (who is 12) attended that school last year before we decided she would be better off having private education. I guess in the real world the price of doing what is best for your child is having a harem of indignant lefties harp on about the inherent injustice of a system that involves money (because apparently some people have less than others).

    15 Jan 2007, 04:14

  27. Well of course if you believe in inequality – as any good capitalist should – then you should absolutely support the idea of private schools.

    Frankly I find it odd that anyone is surprised by anything Ruth Kelly might do. She’s a member of New Labour AND Opus Dei – what a combo!

    15 Jan 2007, 08:59

  28. Re comment 27. Sending one child to another school won’t do anything to reverse the growth of ethnic conflict.

    15 Jan 2007, 10:33

  29. Gareth Herbert

    I’m not speaking about preventing the growth of ethnic conflict, that’s a separate issue, I’m talking about the fact that most parents would strive to keep their child away from the sort’ve school where attacks like that take place. If the idea of the starter of this thread is that parents should be prevented from having any say whatsoever in where their child is educated then it’s a battle that you will lose, plenty of middle class parents aren’t just going to lie back and send their child into some rough inner city comp when they have an alternative. Private schools are the price we pay for living in a society that involves money and parents who care more about their kids than this utopian nonsense.

    15 Jan 2007, 17:28

  30. Refering to practicalities:

    School fees have gone up by 90 per cent over the past 10 years but clothing and footwear prices have fallen by 40 per cent over the same period. Source

    RPI up 31% in 10 years

    15 Jan 2007, 17:38

  31. Sorry to go back to a very early point, but you say that “your posts have not yet convinced me that my argument is wrong at the theoretical level”. Well I seem to remember that Communism was a great idea in theory and look how it all turned out? So called equality has slowed Russia’s economic and social progress and the situation in China and North Korea is far from perfect.

    Unfortunately, it is human nature to further ourselves and we use any advantage we can get to better ourselves. This includes sending our children to private/grammar schools so they can then better themselves.

    As for higher taxes, this was tried out in the 1960s (correct me if I’m wrong). I believe that a 60% tax was introduced. This lead to many so called rich people leaving the country resulting in a drop in the national income from taxes as well as a drop in the level of intellectual capital. If this had continued for a substantial amount of time, this could have lead to Britain falling behind other countries in terms of research etc.

    Also, an increased tax on those people who would otherwise send their children to private school? This can never be described as fair, and leads to the same situation as in the paragraph above. It is also totally unmanageable, as there are many people who can afford to send their child to private school but do not and at the same time there are many people who cannot afford to send their children to private school but do so via bursaries etc. If you taxed one who sent their children to private school but not the other this would be incredibly unfair.

    Finally, can anyone explain to me why a so called Labour government who is trying (on the surface) to make this country equal banned assisted places? It seems a little hypocritical to me.

    15 Jan 2007, 19:35

  32. I went to private school and I’m a badass.

    15 Jan 2007, 21:49

  33. David Bugg

    In response to Elizabeth Shepherd…Surely the addition of another 2% of the UK’s youth to the private school system is the exact opposite of ‘equality’. This being that all individuals are treated as moral equals, regardless of their race, gender or intellectual ability. Hence the assisted places scheme, to say nothing of private schooling itself, is inherently contrary to the principle of equality. Surely we should be trying to raise the standard of state education for ALL children, rather than wasting thousands of pounds sending a tiny minority of students to private schools.

    15 Jan 2007, 22:12

  34. Devil’s advocacy may have been employed in the making of this post…

    Elizabeth (or Liz, Lizzie or whatever Warwick Blogs prevents you from being called!), to paraphrase David’s comment: “equality” used to mean striving to ensure the brightest students could be pulled out of sink schools and educated at excellent schools even if they couldn’t afford it, so they could eventually convert more of their potential into actual achievements helping the nation/economy. Now, “equality” means striving to ensure nobody can have anything better than the average, which is all anyone “deserves”.

    David, I’d say you’re overstating the cost of the assisted places scheme. Dan’s unsourced assertion in comment 24 was that there’s a £3k difference on average between the costs of state and independent education. Historically, as George points out (comment 31), that difference was less. I imagine that the assisted places scheme did not pay 100% of the child’s fees in every case, and/or certainly not at the full “commercial” rate. Total cost… let’s stick a finger in the air and say it’s as much as £1.5k (unlikely given my arguments). £1.5k x 5 years = £7,500 – in cold financial terms, a sum which would very likely be more than recovered by Government in higher taxed salary over a 42 year working life. In socio-economic terms, the benefit to the nation is likely to be much greater if the pupil was to go on to make some great advance in science or engineering, for example. Now if as many as 2% of all state school pupils were given an assisted place, even using the overstated costs here, the same money divided by 100% of all state school pupils is an extra £30 a year, an extra 0.6% of total funding – a sum which, on its own, would effectively sink without trace.

    Unfortunately, it is human nature to further ourselves

    Why “unfortunately”? We’d still be living in caves if this wasn’t the case!

    15 Jan 2007, 23:33

  35. Elizabeth,

    “Well I seem to remember that Communism was a great idea in theory and look how it all turned out? So called equality has slowed Russia’s economic and social progress and the situation in China and North Korea is far from perfect.”

    I hardly know where to start. Russian communism was certainly brutal and awful but in economic terms it transformed a backwards agrarian society into a modern industrial one capable of competing militarily with the US. Since the introduction of capitalism there the economy hasn’t exactly done brilliantly has it? The point is anyway moot because as you say, it was so-called equality and not in fact equality at all (quite the opposite). Is there an equivalent to Godwin’s law that any discussion that touches on the issue of equality will end in someone saying yeah, but look at what equality did for Russia, equality = gulag for all, etc.?

    Tax is more complicated, too tired to write or think about it now.

    Simon, googling for “8000 5000 private public school” quickly finds multiple sources including this (detailed) and this (short). The full story is complicated because state school spending has gone up sharply recently too.

    16 Jan 2007, 00:32

  36. The point of the communism argument was to show that it was set up with the idea of making everyone equal. This lead to the economies of the communist countries being set back. Who says that making things equal here will not do the same (albeit, I’ll admit on a smaller scale – we’re only talking public schools here, not full on communism). The countries who are now “recovering” from communism are doing so because of the inequality of human nature. There will always be people who are natural leaders who will take advantage of others to make profit for themselves. This however, leads to countries advancing, albeit not nec. in a “moral” way. I’m not saying I totally agree with what is happening, I’m just saying that it does happen and that’s how human nature advances (in my opinion).

    If you disagree with me, then please tell me how communism can work given the lazy and greedy nature of human beings?

    Lastly, one thing I think that people may agree on is that to have equality you must have freedom. And part of freedom is the choice to do things, for example, to send children to public schools. I’m not saying that the choice to murder someone is right as there are morals (found within human nature) and laws (because of these morals), but you have yet to convince me how private schools are morally wrong.

    (Btw – I come from a non essay writing background so if any of my arguments are confusing I will try and expain better.)

    16 Jan 2007, 21:00

  37. OK we’re getting sidetracked here, so I’ll be brief.

    I might be wrong – I’m no historian – but didn’t communism accelerate Russia’s economic development, in particular the rapid industrialisation of Stalin’s five year plan? Also, does the fact that things didn’t work out in Russia mean that all attempts at equality must fail? Questions too big to answer here (especially late at night), and way off topic.

    The issue of freedom is more on topic. Personally, I’m dubious about whether or not a freedom that only a privileged class can enjoy is really a freedom at all. Probably 90% of people can’t afford to send their children to a private school. So this 90% don’t have a freedom which you think they should have? I suppose my point is that I’m more concerned about the freedom of the 90% than of the 10%.

    16 Jan 2007, 23:09

  38. Gareth Herbert


    I appreciate this is a side issue, but the phrase that something was “great in theory but failed in practice” is just total nonsense whatever it applies to. If a theory fails in practice then the theory is clearly shite.

    18 Jan 2007, 04:18

  39. Lucinda, I don’t know if you were implying this or not in your last sentence but I wasn’t arguing that Russian style communism was beneficial. As you note, not all forms of economic growth are beneficial.

    Gareth, if the ‘theory’ in question was that equality is a good thing then the fact that Russian communism (in which equality was notably absent as Lucinda pointed out) is not any argument against the theory. It is an argument against say the Leninist theory of vanguardist revolutions, command economies and one-party systems.

    18 Jan 2007, 09:23

  40. Re comment 40:
    Careful examination of any theory about politics or society shows that it only fits reality in a small number of cases.
    They are not like Physics theories.

    18 Jan 2007, 09:29

  41. A few more responses:

    I have not made an argument as to whether Ruth Kelly was or was not justified in sending her child to a private school. That question and the one that I did make are clearly related but also very different.

    There seems also to be some unwarranted conflation of the ideas of equality and equality of opportunity.

    And without wanting to antagonise you guys, who have already contributed massively to this debate. There’s been several statements recently that I find bizarre:

    “if you believe in inequality – as any good capitalist should – then you should absolutely support the idea of private schools”

    “many people advocating state education for everyone seem to favour the “luck” of where a person is born over the “luck” of whether or not their parents earn a sufficient amount of money” (given my earlier comment about bussing)

    “equality” means striving to ensure nobody can have anything better than the average, which is all anyone “deserves”. (That’s not what I’m arguing for. I want everybody to have the opportunity to excel and this can be done in a Comprehensive setting with streaming/setting etc – which I do not believe contradicts my argument, even if I have left it out of my essay just in case!)

    Elizabeth Shepherd – I get the impression I will not be able to convince you, even if I were to give you my full 5000 word essay (that I will publish for anyone that’s still interested post-results). “to have equality you must have freedom”. If you want to appeal to freedom…then I argue that for true freedom (for all individuals) including being able to realise your goals, aims, self etc, no matter where the social lottery landed you, equality of opportunity is vital. This is contravened to a huge extent by private schools.

    18 Jan 2007, 09:47

  42. Ian

    ” true freedom (for all individuals) including being able to realise your goals, aims, self etc, no matter where the social lottery landed you “

    How is this in any way contravened by private schools? Within the context of UK schooling, the ability to realise these things is largely due to your own personal ambition, rather than which school you are at. I can only assume by your arguments that you attended a state school, yet you are now at one of this countries best universities and are probably realising your goals, aims etc. This must be due to your determination to succeed.

    The shear volume of people who have contributed to this argument from a state education means that something must be going right, and the minority that do fall off the end probably have their own lack of motivation to blame, rather than the schooling system.

    It is also worth noting that not everyone in private schools is intelligent and motivated – far from it. Many students have no ambition to do well, because when they get no GCSE’s, they will fall back on their parents income. Having these people in the state system will not benefit anyone.

    21 Jan 2007, 19:13

  43. Ian…do you believe that there are more people at private schools who have the ambition to go to Oxbridge than at state schools (for example)?
    I’m hoping you don’t.
    Roughly 7% of young people go to private schools, yet over 44% of Oxbridge students had a private education.

    25 Jan 2007, 20:13

  44. Ian

    Your statistic is interesting, because even in your original argument you state “Let’s assume that private schools do provide a better academic schooling.” So if were agreed that private schools are at the top of the education system, and by the choice of Oxbridge in your example you clearly think that they are top of the universities, I think it is a very credible fact for this countries state schooling system that 56% of Oxbridge students came through it!

    There is possibly also some truth that there are more people at private schools than state schools who want to go to Oxbridge – this is nothing to do with the standard of education, but is a class thing. Oxbridge is a very upperclass, outdated and snobbish institution, aimed at people from Eton and Harrow, whereas most “normal” teenagers thrive and prosper in this countries newer universities which provide a social as well as an academic education.

    25 Jan 2007, 22:48

  45. It is interesting that you denounce the private school system on the basis that it means an uneven playing field, yet you have then singled out Oxbridge as being a desirable institution to go to (presumably because of the increased prestige and the higher standard of education?) and yet you have no problem with only a select few being able to attend these institutions. And regarding your figures, I was under the impression that private schooling levels were in the region of 11%.

    26 Jan 2007, 08:26

  46. you have no problem with only a select few being able to attend (Oxbridge)

    How many times does the point have to be made that discrimination on the basis of the supposed ability of a potential student to benefit from an educational stimulus is different from discrimination on the basis of parental income? It’s been made enough times, so I’ll go onto some other points.

    Is Oxbridge really so much better than the other universities? At primary & secondary level, peer pressure and the influence of teachers makes a significant impact on pupil attainment. At tertiary level the limited time spent in contact with the academic staff and the opportunities students have to select their own social circle mean that one FE institution is perhaps not so very different from another.

    Oxbridge graduates may do better than graduates from other universities more because their graduates were posh enough to get into Oxbridge than because of what Oxbridge did for its students. Oxbridge might even be a bad idea for some people. While the middle classes might pick up some useful cultural tricks from mixing with the upper class elite, some from working class backgrounds might be so intimidated by the unfamiliar culture that they drop out (Similar point to 2nd paragraph of comment 46).

    In my opinion much more attention needs to be focused on improving those who come out at the bottom of the educational system than arguing about where exactly each person in the top 25% should go.

    27 Jan 2007, 10:13

  47. RE
    “that one FE institution is perhaps not so very different from another”.
    Oops i mean HE not FE.

    27 Jan 2007, 10:49

  48. Nick Wood

    My wife & I have & are busting our guts to pay the school fees for our 3 childrens independent education. Yes I know that we are giving them an advantage over kids attending the local state schools. On the other hand I see our neighbours who haven’t been paying years & years of school fees, paying out for their kids University fees, accommodation etc. later on or buying them their first cars, houses etc. I know that when that time arrives my wife & I will not be able to do this & will probably be having to work on later before retirement due to the outlay we’ve made for our childrens schooling. I don’t see any problem in doing whats best for your kids, why should a better schooling be frowned on more than being given a mortgage-free house for example. We are making sacrifices now hopefully to enable our kids to be able to gain more from life & better themselves rather than us just handing it to them later on in the form of our own material wealth.

    27 Jan 2007, 17:07

  49. Nick – I have not made any comment about what I think is morally acceptable given the status quo. My argument is simply that we should ban private schools. One does not necessarily lead to the other. That said sending one’s child to a private school does, as you say, disadvantage those in the state sector. However, I believe this to be more unjust than the other examples that you give, such as buying a first car. Clearly, such a purchase will benefit a child, but it will not push others much further down the queue for jobs and university places etc.

    30 Jan 2007, 23:36

  50. Regarding the original post, I always feel that attitude treats people as though there are a given number born in each generation, they’re all mixed up and then spread between different families, meaning that some get an unfairly better or worse deal through pure chance.

    That’s not how I see it.

    I think of children as, in a way, an extension of their parents and subject to the benefits that their parents can bestow upon them to give them the best head start possible. Life isn’t fair, but it’s not so unfair that someone from a poor family can’t still succeed in their own meaningful way.

    Any parent who wants the best for their child has the right to send him or her to private school, should they feel that is “for the best”. I went to state schools but my parents made it clear that if they felt a private education were really “the best” for me then they would have done everything in their power to make sure I got one.

    There is so much that parents can do for their children to give them a boost in life outside of sending them to private school that instead of arguing about removing private schools for being “unfair” we should be teaching parents responsibility and pride regarding their children. We want parents who teach their children outside of school and who play an active role in their education. I learned more from my parents than I did at school. I think if we taught parents to take an active part in the development of their child then we might see a drop in private school enrolment anyway, as the parents realised that, compared to what they could impart to their children themselves, a private education simply wasn’t worth the money – ESPECIALLY if it were boarding school, thus cutting their children off from parental contact during term time.

    31 Jan 2007, 11:30

  51. Andrea

    I don’t agree with banning private schools because it’s good for people to have a choice but I can’t imagine ever choosing to educate a child of mine privately. There is something about the elitism of private education that I feel uneasy about. Someone once said to me that to send my child to a state school would be sacrificing that child on the altar of political ideals and I certainly don’t think that is the case.

    I agree with improving state schools as there are some which are definitely below par but most are geared to people achieving their full potential. There is a great book that illustrates this very well called “Once in a House on Fire.”

    03 Feb 2007, 23:46

  52. martin

    This whole idea of equality is the problem, human beings are not ants,all working together for the common good. It is an impossible idea.
    People work hard and extra hard because they want their children to go to private school, because its so much better. This effort is taxed massively and funds alot of state education as well.

    Life is not fair and never will be, people have just got to stop being jealous and envious of others, it will make them bitter and sick.

    Some people are born ugly, should we scar up the faces of those who are deemed unfairly beautiful?

    Some people are born with a lot more braiins, should they be given labotamies?

    Do we want a society were everyone has to be the same, what a boring sad place it will be. I suggest all you progressive leftwingers go to Varna in Bulgaria and talk to the locals about communism and how its ruined their lifes.

    14 Feb 2007, 14:20

  53. Kev

    The fundamental issue here is those who have an ability to benefit rather than those who have an ability to pay. Education has always been a contentious subject. Chris your argument is fatally flawed, you cannot raise standards in school by banning independent schools, no everyone will preform poorly. There is something missing in our society about valuing education for educations sake.

    I was with some children from Tanzania on an exchange visit to England(Who greatly value the poor education they receive and have personal ambition to achieve). They could not get their heads around the largley negative attitude of young people in this country towards education. That my freind is the fundamental issue. The national curriculum is good but to prescriptive, it is disengaging boys particularly but young people generally in their thousands. Education is messed with by theorists and NON educationalists, we are now experiencing the dire consequences of this.

    Its funny no one minds that I may have two cars or a second home or three holidays abroad each year, but you mention independent schooling and everyone has an opinion on it!

    So stop blaming the independent sector and lets address the culture, ethos, and attitudes of parents and families and of course young people themselves. Oh and remember that there is a largely powerful and negative peer group pressure in schools that works actively against people who want to perform well.

    07 Mar 2007, 14:49

  54. Its funny no one minds that I may have two cars or a second home or three holidays abroad each year


    07 Mar 2007, 15:11

  55. Education is different from cars and houses, as education is about changing the self.
    Having a car or a bigger house may have a temporary effect on the self, but doesn’t last a lifetime.

    07 Mar 2007, 16:11

  56. Steve

    The thing about equality of opportunity is that it is almost completely impossible. The idea that people should have to ‘earn’ everything they receive is flawed because there will always be children born with different levels of ability. They did not earn their level of ability did they? I think it is unfair to discriminate against those born with higher levels of material wealth. Perhaps we should tax those with higher levels of intelligence more to make them equal to those born with a lower level of intelligence or ability. Education cannot change inherent ability.

    15 Apr 2007, 21:18

  57. What’s the point of rewarding someone with more material benefits if that doesn’t provide an incentive to do something which will benefit someone else?
    E.g. why should the clever be paid more than the stupid, if the clever would still do useful things even if they weren’t paid much?

    16 Apr 2007, 10:46

  58. E.g. why should the clever be paid more than the stupid, if the clever would still do useful things even if they weren’t paid much?

    Simple – supply and demand. A clever person can do the job of a less clever person (e.g. I’m an engineering consultant but could easily do the job of a machinist too) but a machinist couldn’t do my job. I’d probably rather do the machinist’s job – more set times, less travelling about, probably just as much if not more fun as it’s more hands on, much less risk/responsibility at work – but my ambitions dictate that I’m in my current job instead. The lower down the skills ladder you move, the more available candidates you have for the job and thus the greater supply there are for people to do that job, thus less room for negotiation on terms etc and the driving down of wages for these sectors.

    16 Apr 2007, 12:46

  59. Some people do jobs which few others could and get paid highly for them, yet would still do them even if they weren’t paid much.

    Then there are people who don’t get paid much despite having rare skills. For example many university academics. The same goes for some of the people who work for charities – they don’t feel they can accept high salaries, yet some of them exhibit very high skills.

    A key factor in determining salaries is negotiating skills. For example doctors, lawyers and accountants have persuaded government to grant them monopolies, engineers haven’t. So many chartered engineers compare themselves to these powerful professions and conclude that they are paid too little.

    16 Apr 2007, 13:22

  60. I would argue that many people in higher paid jobs are paid such sums of money as an incentive to do them, as well as the comparable bargaining position they hold due to supply/demand. Exceptionally high salaries, such as that of sports stars, are often there specifically because of the individual and the earning potential they bring whoever is paying their salary – in the case of sports stars primarily sponsorship, which they would take to a different label/team if their salary demands weren’t met. High salaries, such as that found in the city and in high up professional jobs, are there both as a carrot to encourage talented people to do jobs that aren’t much fun (how many people I wonder truly enjoy the world of corporate finance, and how many just do the job for the lifestyle they can live from the money they earn) and also because such professional positions also involve a lot of responsibility – management of companies for example, or being qualified to sign off an engineering design as “safe” has a lot of responsibility on the individual. Again, the money is only there because they are also worth that to their employers in the amount of revenue their work can generate, or costs that they can save, etc. University academics and charity workers I would argue are exceptional cases outside of the private sector, where the appeal of the job and lifestyle (university academic) or the satisfaction of a desire within the individual to do charitable work (charity) overrides the opportunity for material gain.

    In what way to doctors, lawyers and accountants have monopolies that engineers don’t? I can’t see how anyone other than a chartered engineer is qualified to do the work of one, so in that sense chartered engineers have a monopoly on the type of work that they perform. I think the pay difference comes from a lack of recognition of engineering as a profession – if you tell someone you’re an engineer, they don’t have the same professional respect as they would a lawyer or a doctor. This in some way works its way into management culture where engineering staff just aren’t paid as highly and cannot command as high fees as other professions. Even the top consulting engineers command hourly rates far lower than that of a decent lawyer or solicitor.

    17 Apr 2007, 12:57

  61. Pay in the private sector is determined by a much more complex process than the model of supply and demand in a competitive market suggests.

    For example the ratio of the pay of top executives to median earnings is far bigger than it was 30 years ago, partly because top executives feel that they can get away with it. The criticism of unequal pay is much more muted than it was.

    Radio 4’s Bottom Line programme broadcast on 17 March concluded with the invited guests, three directors of major private sector operations, agreeing that the publication of the salaries of a group tends to push up the pay of those in the group. As most people think they are better than the median of their group, they fight hard to be rewarded higher than the median.

    I might write a trackback on professional closure later.

    18 Apr 2007, 14:39

  62. Susan

    I went to a private school on a bursary and the whole experience still makes me feel physically sick even 10 years later. I left one of these ‘revolting state schools’ where the teachers and pupils could not have been more supportive during a time I was suffering from bereavement and poor health. Physical education teachers at this ‘wonderful’ private school treated me like dirt because due to injury I could not take part in lessons for about 2 years (and let’s face it they all wanted sporting stars) and other teachers dismissed me as thick because I was academically about a year behind everyone else due to traumatic events. I tried to copy from the other pupils and pretend to be ill on test days but eventually got found out and given a severe bollocking for not asking what I was unsure of.

    In the end, I gave up trying because no matter what you did unless you fitted their criteria you could forget it. I know people had my ‘best interests’ at heart but in the end would probably have been better off at the state school where they could cope with someone less than the perfect ideal. The experience has strongly influenced me in my career choice as a social worker because I know firsthand what it feels like to be pathologised for things that are not always the individual’s fault, and are not helped by the fact that society, and certain mini-societies like the certain establishment I attended, does not recognise the strengths that diversity can bring.

    I know private schools will never dissappear, and that I have a terrible audacity to challenge the norm that they offer kids the best possible opportunity! However, I just wanted people to know that they are not the holy grail that they are presented to be, and that there is a darker side to their intentions.

    06 Nov 2007, 20:41

  63. George

    My Parents have worked hard all their life to send me through to private education and I appreciate that. Everyone would and should. My arguement here is that they have worked hard so that I may receive a higher quality schooling. I think that is reasonable. Why should they be banned?

    19 Apr 2010, 07:50

  64. laks

    Everybody should have the rights to go to the school they desire to go. If private schools are banned, there would be a huge increase in tax because the government can’t afford to pay the schools.

    27 Apr 2010, 19:44

  65. George:
    The main thrust of my argument is that it unfairly disadvantages people of your generation, who may work just as hard as your parents, but will not succeed as much as they did, because your private school jumps you (or some of your less-hard working colleagues) ahead of them in the queue for university places and jobs etc. Read the essay. Let me know what you think.

    In terms of ‘rights’. There is a trade-off between the loss of freedom to choose a school and the freedom to achieve according to one’s potential, rather than one’s starting place in society.
    There would be an increase in tax, yes. I believe this is a price worth paying for universally better education and current private school parents would be more willing to increase state school funding if it affected their children.

    27 Apr 2010, 20:42

  66. Belgarath

    I am extremely intelligent and will certainly achieve a large level of income and a highly paid job despite attending schools that were not only state schools but some of the worst in Britain.
    However, despite the fact that I will probably be able to afford to send my kids to private school, I will not. I think that it’s important to start from low and work your way up otherwise you have earned nothing. I don’t know how things work down South but in Scotland, we set a lot of store by being able to make something of youself despite humble beginnings

    01 Feb 2011, 20:04

  67. Bereasonable

    Response to the original article.

    Firstly, where would you draw the line if you are talking about not giving your kids a head start in life? You say that reading to your children should be allowed (not because it helps the child but because it helps with building family bonds…. okkkkkkkkay.), but would you then ban parents from teaching their children their knowledge in their own time, and giving them tutelage outside of school hours, or ban private tuition? Obviously some parents have the ability to do that, and some are less able, or less willing to do so. So then there would be another ‘inequality’ issue, so you would ban parents from teaching their own children because it is ‘not fair.’ Where would you draw the line?

    Let’s continue down this path that is, quite frankly, starting to stink of totalitarianism. So you’ve now banned parents from hiring private tutors or teaching their own children themselves, because it is ‘unfair’ (whatever that word means anyway, because ‘fairness’ is very much a relative term in relation to the societal norms of the day.) But then you can’t really stop parents bringing their children up. Some people will have parents with few parenting skills and care little about them, some will have parents that care a lot about them, and want to improve their lives. That’s a fact of life. But wait, that is unfair, so now lets take all children away from their parents at birth, because not all parents are equal, and bring them up in the State Baby Farm No.3, where all conditions are equal, and they are brought up by people who have been taught to have no personality, and no particular care for any particular child.

    What will happen then? I’ll leave it for you to conclude. Just a thought anyway.

    All I would say is that humans operate on incentive, they are selfish creatures in general, like it or not, it is a fact. If you take away that incentive, the ability to make decisions, or buy nice things, or indeed start to control their lives more and more, people become more disheartened, less likely to put any effort into their work, or studying, or whatever it is, because frankly, why bother if you aren’t allowed to be any different than anyone else?

    09 Sep 2011, 18:23

  68. Gunta

    You produce an essay to contribute to your DEGREE and you don’t know when to use “effect” instead of “affect”. Shame on you.

    21 Apr 2012, 00:41

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