Graduate propaganda rears its ugly head, again

The Telegraph, 31/10/14, that privately educated graduates earn more than their state school peers, doesn’t make independent schooling the bad guy writes Eleanor Doughty in response to the IFS report released this week indicating that graduates who attended an independent school earn seven per cent more than their colleagues. HMC Chairman, Richard Harman is quoted.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has enraged me this week, releasing ‘evidence’ that graduates who attended an independent school earn seven per cent more than their colleagues.

Right, OK. I really struggle to believe that this is true. According to a small survey conducted among my friends and peers, it is nonsense, but stats will be stats. Whether you wish to believe them or not is up to you. But this is my view.

First off, a fact. Independently schooled young adults have had access to a different kind of life than state schooled pupils. Their educational experience is different. You can’t contest that.

Richard Harman, the headmaster of Uppingham School, recently told me that the confidence that his pupils leave school with comes from the values they are taught during their time there.

He explained that the things employers look for, and that are included as part and parcel of the independent school system, largely include: "resilience, working in teams, creativity, making the most of your opportunities and being able to organise your time".

Of course, these are not things that cannot be taught at home by parents of state-schooled children, but inside independent schools, they are a given.

To some – many, I’m sure – that is unfair. But it doesn’t make the independent school system the bad guy. It just shows up the state system. If all schools were run with the same ethos as the best independent schools – finances all willing – surveys such as this one would not emerge.

There wouldn’t be the data for it because there wouldn’t be a void in the education system. As it is, there is a void, and every day that another Institute pulls together some statistics to prove it, the worse it is for those still in secondary education.

I bet that barely anyone under the age of 18 will read my article today, and even fewer will read the IFS report itself, but the negativity pointed towards independent schools is detrimental to the state sector.

It doesn’t impact those at the fee-paying schools, because their parents would send them there anyway – you would imagine. But for those at state schools, it is damaging to read – or to overhear – news like that.

If you are consistently told something, you soon begin to believe it. At my school, we were told that we could achieve anything – work anywhere, read anything, and go to whatever university we wanted. We believed we were good, so we became good (at whatever it was we had chosen to be ‘good’ at.)

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