Independent schools and inequality go hand in hand

23rd August 2013 at 01:00

I was troubled reading Barnaby Lenon's advertisement for independent schools. Apparently, deserving young people get to university because their parents take cheaper holidays, allowing for private schooling in proper "hard subjects".

Apparently, too, independent schools here receive no support from the state, unlike in Finland. In reality, Finland does not value private education at all; it is highly inclusive, with just 85 (mostly faith) independent schools out of about 3,000 secondaries. And the London Academy of Excellence - the free school lauded in the article as an example of private school altruism - received more than #163;4 million of government funding for just 150 initial selective sixth-form places.

Indeed, it is for "the most disadvantaged children in the most deprived areas ... where the battle for improved social mobility really needs to be fought". Yet Mr Lenon does not appear to understand the inequity in the system he is trying to defend; a system that has been shown to discriminate against a poor candidate with identical A-level results to a more affluent one.

So, while Mr Lenon may wish to celebrate the fact that, despite educating only 7 per cent of students, the independent sector is over-represented in the populations of MPs, sportspeople, high-earning journalists and High Court judges, many others see this as "so wrong".

Ian Abbott, Senior advisory teacher for cognition and learning, Specialist SEN Service, Wiltshire Council.

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