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In many schools, the foreign influx is the dominant issue among the children, and it spills over from the dormitory and into internet chat rooms such as The Student Room.
The Chinese won’t even come out of their rooms and socialise, and prefer to play computer games on their beds (just like children at state schools).Some British parents actively seek an international school, thinking their children will thus be plugged into a global network of wealthy and high-achieving young people.Janette Wallis of the Good Schools Guide says some parents, but certainly not all, get jittery when the foreign contingent exceeds 10 per cent.No self-respecting Russian oligarch is going to have his little princess slumming it in a dormitory with seven other girls, so the big trend is now towards private accommodation and fine food.This in turn renders the schools even more exclusive by pushing up the fees for everyone.There are several ways to measure the scale of the cultural changes in the English private school of the last few years, but one schoolmistress with a robust, old-fashioned outlook realised things had gone awry the other day when one of the Russian new girls went to complain to matron.
The girl was annoyed that though she had slept in her bed for three nights, the maid had not yet been in to change the sheets. The girls, this teacher says, don’t understand the prefect system and won’t participate.
And British investment bankers dropping their children off on Sunday night look at the cars being driven by the guardians of the Russian, Chinese and Nigerian children, and for the first time in their lives they feel poor.
Schools are now pouring millions of pounds into facilities in a bid to attract the global education yuan and rouble.
The grander, more academically top-rank schools are generally oversubscribed, so they can control the balance of their intake and cap the figure of foreign pupils at around 15 per cent.
Harrow takes a lot of Chinese at sixth-form level, which explains in part why Winston Churchill’s alma mater now offers English as an Additional Language.
In fact, the Good Schools Guide gives Roedean a decent rating under its new headmaster and does not relay any evidence that girls and parents think the 45 per cent foreign contingent is a problem.