‘Greedy’ private schools pricing out pupils
PRIVATE schools’ “corporate greed” is pricing out middle-class families, the former High Master of St Paul’s Boys’ School has warned.
Dr Martin Stephen suggested that charging ever-rising school fees is short-sighted, as it poses a threat to the existence of public schools.
In a new book, The English Public School, Dr Stephen argues that while public schools are “highly resilient, they are not immortal”. He explains that there are two “crucial” threats to their existence.
“The first is the increase in fees that has placed a public school education beyond the reach of the middle-class families that have been their bedrock,” Dr Stephen said.
“The greed that drives fee increases lies at the door of poor governance, and too many governors whose eyes rarely take in more than the good lunch they get at a governors’ meeting.”
He said that, while the greed of public schools has previously been associated with corruption and a “desire to line one’s own pockets”, this no longer applies.
Dr Stephen wrote that nowadays, “private greed has been replaced by corporate greed”, as schools seek to lure potential clients with their stateof-the-art facilities, and raise fees to “astronomical heights” for overseas students. But the “real killer blow” to private education, he argues, would be if the discourse on access to higher education led to universities introducing quotas restricting the number of public school pupils.
Another threat to fee-paying schools is the improvement of state education, Dr Stephen said.
“Public schools survive because people who can afford it will do anything rather than send their children to a bad school,” he wrote.
Dr Stephen is a former chair of the Headmasters and Headmistresses’ Conference, a group representing the country’s leading public schools.
Alumni of St Paul’s Boys’ School in London include George Osborne and the veteran broadcaster John Simpson. is a member of the Independent
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