Previous generations of Tatler readers would be rotating in their graves. If rotating in one’s grave were not a tad common.
Tatler, the society magazine, is this month publishing its annual State Schools Guide. “Wake up, world,” the magazine’s spokespeople say, only slightly defensively. “These days, most ‘People Like Us’ a) can’t necessarily afford to send our children to private schools, and b) don’t necessarily want to.”
“'My husband went to boarding school from the age of 8 and said the facilities at King James’s are better than anything he had,’ reports another mother,” according to the entry for King James’s School in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, one of Tatler’s top secondaries.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “I think state and independent schools will feel equally patronised. So, in terms of social mobility, that’s a good thing.
“It’s nice that Tatler now sees what so many teachers and parents have known for a long time: there are great schools, regardless of the system they’re in. Welcome to our world.”
The top-10 lists suggest that one of the reasons that Tatler readers may not be able to afford to send their children to fee-paying schools is because they have spent all their money on houses in some of the most desirable – and expensive – areas of the country.
So the top 10 primary schools include Barnes Primary School, in south-west London, of which Tatler says: “The catchment area ‘gets smaller every year’, warns one insider.” Similarly, Dulwich Hamlet Junior School, in the exclusive south-east London suburb, and Primrose Hill Primary School, in north-west London – alma mater of Boris Johnson and the Miliband brothers (“But don’t let that put you off,” the guide says) – are included.
And, in its entry for Great Tew Primary School, in Chipping Norton, the Cotswolds town where David Cameron and Rebekah Brooks famously have homes, the guide recommends asking parents about the shaking-the-champagne-bottle tradition.
'Outdated' comparisons with private schools
The top 20 secondary schools include Fortismere School in North London, known for its doorstep-scraping catchment area. “Not many states schools offer classics at A level, but this one does; the colleges (houses) are named Colosseum, Ephesus, Rhodes,” the guide states.
Similarly, Nonsuch High School for Girls, a grammar school in Cheam, Surrey, offers pupils Greek and astronomy, as well as a musician in residence.
Meanwhile, Chipping Campden School in Gloucestershire, named for the Cotswolds market town where it is located, is described by the guide as: “Established in 1440 (‘the same year as Eton,’ they proudly tell us).”
Mr Barton, however, suggests that parallels with independent schools are outdated. “What would be helpful is if we moved away from that binary,” he said. “Because our education system in England is so fragmented, there’s such a range of schools, whether academy, free school, religious school or grammar school.
“There will be a great school for your child. Go and find it, and then see if it’s independent or state. Education shouldn’t be about finances, but about quality and structure.”
The Tatler State Schools Guide 2018 is included in the February edition of Tatler, on sale from Thursday this week.
Tatler's top state primary schools are:
Barnes Primary School, south-west London
Dulwich Hamlet Junior School, south-east London
Sir John Cass's Foundation Primary School, City of London
Primrose Hill Primary School, north-west London
Great Tew Primary School, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire
Cradley CofE Primary School, Herefordshire
Slade Primary School, Tonbridge, Kent
St Martin at Shouldham CofE Voluntary-Aided Primary Academy, King's Lynn, Norfolk
Delamere CE Primary Academy, Tarporley, Cheshire
St Mary's RC Primary School, Haddington, East Lothian
Tatler's top state secondary schools are:
Fortismere School, North London
Harris Westminster Sixth Form, south-west London
Lady Margaret School, south-west London
Twyford CofE High School, West London
Nonsuch High School for Girls, Cheam, Surrey
Wilson's School, Wallington, south-west London
Peter Symonds College, Winchester, Hampshire
Beaumont School, St Albans, Hertfordshire
Langtree School, Reading, Berkshire
Chesham Grammar School, Chesham, Buckinghamshire
Mullion School, Helston, Cornwall
Chipping Campden School, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire
Thomas Hardye School, Dorchester, Dorset
Wymondham High Academy, Wymondham, Norfolk
The Chantry School, Martley, Worcestershire
Durham Johnston School, Co Durham
Arden Academy, Solihull, West Midlands
King James's School, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire
Earlston High School, Earlston, Scottish Borders
North Berwick High School, North Berwick, East Lothian