Independents urged to bring down education's 'Berlin Wall'

1st July 2011 at 01:00

Every independent school should sponsor a failing state school if the country is to break the "educational Berlin Wall" between the two sectors, former education minister Lord Adonis said this week.

The Labour peer, who remains influential throughout government, called for all high-performing private schools to return to the values on which they were first established and work alongside state schools in the "common endeavour" to create a world-class education system.

Speaking at the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust's 15th annual lecture in London, Lord Adonis said private schools must embrace the changes being made by the Coalition with its expansion of the academies programme.

"England will never have a world-class education system until both state and private education come together," he said. "Every private school should sponsor an under-performing state school, which will have been converted to academy status.

"Federations of state and private schools should be created where private schools are not just giving advice and assistance but where private schools take complete responsibility for the governance and leadership of an academy, staking their reputation on the success of their students as they do for fee-paying pupils.

He added: "It is a good thing to do to break that educational Berlin Wall between the two sectors."

Lord Adonis' comments echo the Coalition's own wishes, which is keen to see all private schools sponsor an academy.

In a speech last month, schools minister Nick Gibb said there should be an expectation of the best private schools sponsoring under-performing academies.

"We have a clear expectation that the strongest state schools converting to academies should partner the weakest," he said at a meeting of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

"And I hope that same expectation can apply in the independent sector, too; providing an opportunity for the sector to spread its unique ethos, culture and thinking to tens of thousands more children whose parents cannot afford school fees."

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