Independent girls’ school in London offers PPE course to inspire girls into politics
12th March 2019
Oxford University’s philosophy, politics and economics degree has helped to propel political leaders from Harold Wilson to David Cameron to power, and launched the careers of numerous journalists and commentators.
Now an independent girls’ school in London has decided to cut the number of GCSEs its pupils study to nine to make room for a course in PPE.
Wimbledon High School said the decision was driven in part by frustration at the limitations of the exams, which are a mammoth test of memory, but also by the desire among its pupils to learn more about the world.
“We asked the girls what was not on the GCSE syllabus that they wanted to study and they said they wanted to understand the political spectrum, what caused the financial crash in 2008 and where ideas come from,” Fionnuala Kennedy, the school’s senior deputy head, said. “We started developing modules around their requests and decided to call it PPE because that is what it was. PPE is also a highly regarded university degree and we wanted to make sure the girls knew it is not just for men who go to Christ Church.”
The syllabus will range from modern thinkers to great historical philosophers. Economists such as Adam Smith and Karl Marx will be studied, alongside more prosaic matters such as how interest rates work. The politics section will encompass the views of the main political parties, extreme political views and how democracy works. Other topics will include history of art, architecture and how intellectual movements are formed.
Don’t pit independents and state schools against each other
Critics bemoan the divide between mainstream and private education, but by lambasting independent schools as the cause of the problem, politicians overlook the role the sector could play in bridging the gap and raising standards for everyone, argues Melvyn Roffe, principal of George Watson’s College in Edinburgh.
Apparently, too many Etonians become actors, or is it that there are too many Harrovians in the music industry? There are certainly too many Olympic rowers, cyclists, yachtspeople (the “sitting-down sports”, in other words) who come from “posh schools”. And that, it seems, is our fault.
I do wonder how many aspiring state-school educated cyclists were pushed off their bikes by the overindulged products of independent schools on their way to the Olympic finals. Or could it be instead that the historic underfunding of elite sport in the UK…