Private vs State

us going to moreton island

My baby goes to high school next year. Yes, it did make me feel old but since I only had Yannik when I was 40-something, this wasn’t what was worrying me. I had to finally decide if I was committing to private or state schooling for my precious cherub – a full year before because of the scholarship exams.

Being a Centrelink chick from Nerangatan on the Goldie, the only way my smart kiddo was getting into a private school was via the scholarship route. I know, I know! WHY contemplate sending my son private when it was clearly a financial dream. But I bought into the idea that private would keep him away from the seriously dead-beat drongo families, that the education would be better, that he would turn out better spoken with high ideals and burning ambitions. And the facilities! Oh, they were so tempting…the smorgasbord of opportunities, gourmet sports facilities, sumptuous libraries, the delicious theatres and just marvellous treats round every clean and tidy corner.

Yan did the tests. And then we were invited to the interviews after, presumably, he had scored suitably high enough marks to be offered a place.

Our first lot of interviews with the headmistress (HM) of an ultra-expensive religious school was entertaining. While my son and HM chatted, my other son pottered out to the carpark outside.

HM: What is your brother doing running around out there?

Son: Riding his dragon.

HM: Oh! Does he often ride dragons?

Son: “Yes, he and mummy ride their dragons every day in the forest. Mum has a slow dragon but it is reliable. Soren has a Night Fury so it is really fast.

HM: Do you have a dragon?

Son: Gosh, don’t be silly – I’m not crazy, you know!

I did not mind that quirky exchange. But I was a little taken aback when she asked my son how he felt about Christianity.

I was very proud of my son’s reply.

“Well, I trust science and so I want empirical proof. So ….um….well…..therefore believing in God is difficult….”

Yannik then looked a little nervous and confused, worried.

“Um….well….hmmmmm……that is a very big questions, you know,” he added defensively. “ I am only 10 years old, you know!”


But it was the second interview at a posh Anglican school that took the cake. The snotty English-bred headmaster patronisingly sat my son down and asked my child if he thought computer games made children violent.

“I want to see if you can discuss opinions and make an argument.” He twittered on about something like that, all said very slowly with his “I am talking to a very small and stupid person” face.

Yannik thought the man was daft.

“If a child is allowed to spend all day playing computer games, I think the problem is more than just the content,” he said.

End of that conversation.

“So what do you like to do, young man” Snobby Snot continued.

“I like to pick locks, “Yan said brightly, and proceeded to explain how it was all done in significant detail.

It is true he had just ordered a lock-picking kit online and was obsessed with the technicalities of it all, but he is equally interested in the mechanics of photography, knot-typing techniques and anything other process with a manual and instructions.

“Oh, our first aspiring criminal,” the HM giggled nervously.

And when I mentioned that I was basically a single mum with only a part-time job, so basically povo, and without a scholarship, we had zilcho chance of affording the fees, the HM leapt up and ushered us to the door.

“Sorry, but we can’t even consider him then, because even with a full scholarship this year, we certainly only go from year to year…scholarships can change year to year….I don’t actually like the scholarship concept ……but anyway, I will come back to you.

Neither HM ever did.

Now I have decided to put my child into a specialised academic excellence program in a state school. That way, I don’t have to work full time to afford the extras if my child did get a private school scholarship. We can still afford holidays. The state school is not a business and it doesn’t have to make money.

I will just have to make sure I set the academic expectations high, and to never let him settle for mediocrity. Most of all, I need to inspire him with self-belief that he is as blessed and lucky, if not more so, than the rich kids or the kids whose parents have to work dawn to dusk to afford the fees.

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