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Critics of private schools should 'move beyond envy', says head

A leading private school head will today urge the country to “move beyond envy” and "class war" when it comes to the independent sector and instead take pride in its achievements.

In his speech to the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), Richard Harman, headmaster of Uppingham School, will say private schools should not be used as “lazy shorthand” for the social ills of the country.

“It is time to stop scapegoating and start celebrating our schools and their contribution,” Mr Harman will tell delegates at the Celtic Manor resort in Newport. “Contrary to what some dinosaurs from the class-war era would have you believe, we are not a drain on national resources; we add significant value.”

Mr Harman, chairman of the HMC, will attack the “hypocrisy” of critics who “lecture” private schools when many have benefited from their services.

He will argue that the independent school sector is a “crucial academic resource”, whose pupils go on to the best universities, take full advantage of academic opportunities and give back to society and the economy throughout their working lives.

“And so we raise our voices and say ‘recognise our contribution’,” he will say.

As reported in TES on Friday, the conference will also hear about the launch of a new teacher training initiative developed by HMC with the University of Buckingham, which aims to increase the number of “talented and energetic” people entering the profession.

HMC said the initiative will give the independent sector a “strong voice in recruiting fresh talent”, which it said is particularly important when it comes to subject areas underrepresented in the maintained sector.

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