7 May 2020
Letter to The Editor
from Madelaine Kirke
I would really like to comment on the state/private education issue.
Banning private education in the UK would only affect the middle classes. The rich would move their children to schools in, typically, the Irish republic or Northern France.
I have taught in both state and private schools and I experienced parents who took their children out of school to go skiing in a rather expensive public school (some of my class worked out how much money they were wasting on education) so parental engagement still varies. One public school headmaster who I worked for said that parents thought they were buying success. A head of department in a different school commented that parents who were paying often had unrealistic expectations for their children.
However, my elder son, who went to a public school, when working in a state school (not teaching) commented that he realised what a good education he had received by comparison with the one he worked in. My younger son, similarly educated and now teaching in a state primary, found that his English skills were better than many of his English specialist colleagues while training. He has a chemistry degree! I fear that the costs of bringing state schools up to that standard would be prohibitive but I think we should try.
A slightly different issue – If no-one has any choice then a bullying system can develop. I don’t mean that there will be bullying in the school, but when things go really wrong, the only people who can whistle blow with impunity are those who can afford to buy private education for their children and then do the complaining. Remove their escape route and an unassailable bureaucracy can develop.