Pri­vate schools sub­si­dis­ing poor is ‘so­cial­ism in ac­tion’, says head

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Camilla Turner ed­u­ca­tion ed­i­tor

PRI­VATE schools are “so­cial­ism in ac­tion”, the head of the Head­mas­ters’ and Head­mistresses’ Con­fer­ence has said.

HMC schools, which in­clude Eton, Har­row and Winch­ester, al­low wealthy par­ents who can af­ford school fees to sub­sidise the ed­u­ca­tion of those from less well-off back­grounds, ac­cord­ing to Mike Buchanan.

He pointed to the re­cent de­ci­sion taken by Mill­field School in Som­er­set to cut fees by 10 per cent amid con­cerns that they are no longer af­ford­able to mid­dle classes.

Writ­ing in the Times Ed­u­ca­tion Sup­ple­ment, Mr Buchanan said some would “scoff ” at the move, on the ba­sis that fees at the board­ing school still re­main “un­reach­able” for most peo­ple.

“Some will point out that many other less well-known schools have been ex­er­cis­ing cost and fee re­straint for years with­out fan­fare or pub­lic­ity,” he wrote.

“Both would be miss­ing the point about a wider dy­namic hap­pen­ing in so­ci­ety of which fees in in­de­pen­dent

‘Rel­a­tively well-off par­ents are fund­ing the free places [and] the cost of part­ner­ships with the state schools’

schools are just part of the pic­ture.”

Mr Buchanan, who is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of HMC, and the head­mas­ter of Ash­ford School in Kent, said it was “of­ten for­got­ten” that many pri­vate schools serve “or­di­nary, mid­dle-class com­mu­ni­ties” where hard-work­ing par­ents choose to spend some of their money on “buy­ing a dif­fer­ent form of ed­u­ca­tion for their chil­dren which, they judge, is not avail­able from the state”.

Pri­vate schools’ abil­i­ties to pro­vide bur­saries and fee as­sis­tance for chil­dren from poor house­holds, as well as shar­ing fa­cil­i­ties and ex­per­tise with lo­cal state schools, are all made pos­si­ble from fees.

“[The] ac­tiv­i­ties above are paid for from fees paid to the school by par­ents. I’ve al­ways thought of this as so­cial­ism in ac­tion,” Mr Buchanan said.

“This means rel­a­tively well-off, feep­ay­ing par­ents are fund­ing the free and as­sisted places for oth­ers, as well as the cost of the part­ner­ships with state schools. They do so will­ingly in the knowl­edge that it adds to the breadth of ex­pe­ri­ences and, hence, the un­der­stand­ing their own chil­dren gain.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.