‘Greedy’ pri­vate schools pric­ing out pupils

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Camilla Turner ED­U­CA­TION ED­I­TOR www.tele­graph. co.uk/ed­i­to­ri­al­com­plaints The Tele­graph, 111 Buck­ing­ham Palace Road, Lon­don, SW1W 0DT

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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