I was really pleased when I got my daughters Sat's results and saw it put her well into the top 20% in the country according to my research. Then I looked a bit further and realised close to 70% of the kids in her year were going to be in the top 20%.
So this disparity might be covered by the state offers: "An equal opportunity for unequal people". In other words the kids at her school are well above average to start with but apparently the school also did exceptionally well in terms of value added. I am not sure that measure however is wholly accurate but it indicates a good school. When I have met the teachers they seem adequate but when one is not parents make sure the headmaster knows about it and most of the parents are confident middle class typoes who do not fear authority.
What I noticed is that working class less educated parents are intimidated by teachers and take a fatalistic attitude to their childrens education. Middle class parents who use state education get heavily incolved and demand that they recieve a good service or effectively complain until they get it. They are the squeaky wheel that gets the oil but they also keep those who provide the service under pressure and scrutiny.
If we had bought a cheaper house in a cheaper area we could have afforded private education. I am ideologically opposed to it though. Just becase I am not paying for it directly people like me and of my ilk still demand and expect a first class service. We also value public services and despite most of the parents being higher rate tax payers I doubt any vote conservative as they value state education and the NHS above pottential tax cuts and see value for money.
If we are going to have the highest standards in public services we have to learn to expect and demand them. It is not enopugh to just to go around muttering about it fatalistically.