June 06, 2019
Save your money on private school – DNA will decide whether your child does well at school not quality of education, leading geneticist claims
Plomin is basically right. But a disorderly school can prevent a child from acquiring the knowledge he needs to pass exams. So that would normally require either a move to an area with better government schools or sending the kid to a private school.
But for many people top exam results are not sought. Medium achievement may be more socially acceptable and a pleasant, safe and peaceful school environment may be the aim. But again moving or going private may be needed in some areas.
But most important of all for many parents the main aim is not educational at all. The main aim is social. Will the kid meet at school people who will be useful to him in later life? And private schooling is the big solution to that.
And most important of all is status maintenance. Your family has to be rich to use a private school so that usually means that you would like your son to marry a girl from a similarly elevated family. And private schools are VERY good for that. The sons tend to marry the sisters of their fellow students -- who are almost always very "suitable"
A leading geneticist has told parents they don’t need to send their children to top schools like Eton – because genetics has already determined how well they will do in academics.
Robert Plomin, a professor of behavioural genetics at King’s College London, said prestigious schools ‘don’t add anything’ to children’s grades.
Speaking at the Hay Festival, he said that a child’s success is pre-determined by their genes, and ‘nature’ plays a much larger part in our lives than ‘nurture’ or external environmental factors.
When asked why a parent would spend money sending their child to Eton, he replied: ‘The reason why education is universal is literacy and numeracy are innate – children need to learn to read. We’re talking about what makes them different. So the issue is do differences in the quality of school make a difference in outcomes like GCSE scores or getting into universities?
‘There’s a correlation there – kids who go to selective schools have a GCSE score that is one full grade higher than kids who go to comprehensive schools. That’s a correlation though and correlations don’t necessarily imply causation and in this case they don’t.
‘If you correct for what the schools selected on, there’s no difference in GCSE scores. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you select the very best kids academically, yes they go on and do well. But have you added value? The answer is no.
‘So why send your kids to Eton? Don’t. If all you’re doing it for is educational achievement. But if you scratch the surface and talk to the parents it isn’t just for that. It’s for reasons like ‘I want them to be with the right sort of people, I want them to get access and credential, more than actual achievement.
‘But achievement itself – they [Eton] don’t add anything. Schools matter – kids have got to learn all this stuff. But do they make a difference? The answer is no.’
Eton, which costs £42,500 a year in tuition fees, has seen the likes of David Cameron, Eddie Redmayne and Boris Johnson grace their halls. Prince Harry and Prince William also attended the college.
But Professor Plomin argues they would have achieved the same grades if they had gone to a public school.
In his book, ‘Blueprint: How DNA makes us who we are’, he writes: ‘Students select schools and are selected by a school in part on the basis of the students’ prior achievement and ability, which are highly heritable.
‘Students in selective and non-selective schools differ in their DNA. Because the traits used to select students are highly heritable, selection of students for these traits means that students are unintentionally selected genetically.
‘Even though schools have little effect on individual differences in school achievement, some parents will still decide to pay huge amounts of money to send their children to private schools in order to give their children whatever slight advantage such schools provide.
‘I hope it will help parents who cannot afford to pay for private schooling or move house to know that it doesn’t make much of a difference in children’s school achievement.’
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