The chairman of the Independent Schools Council told an education conference that making life difficult for private schools would not help state-educated children
3rd May 2019
Barnaby Lenon, the former headmaster of Harrow School, criticised the way in which parents were judged harshly for paying for their children’s education when they would not be for buying a big house or car.
He also attacked left-wing commentators, many privately educated, as hypocrites and “virtue-signallers, taking offence on purpose as a cost-free way of gaining superiority over those who don’t agree with their one beautiful idea, which is the dependence of the citizen on the state.”
Mr Lenon said that Britain needed more specialist sixth-form outlets for those talented in other areas, similar to the Brit School for performing arts, the Royal Ballet School and Westminster Kingsway College, which trained the chefs Jamie Oliver, Ainsley Harriott and Antony Worrall Thompson.
He acknowledged that high fees were a “bit of a problem”, and said that independent head teachers should invite local MPs to see state partnership activities to “get them on side”.
Killing off independent schools wouldn't even be a partial solution to state education's problems
Yvonne Williams, head of English and drama at a school in the south of England says “'forget private schools, what about inequality in state schools?'
The struggle of independent schools to find favour with the media, politicians and the public at large has rumbled on in the background for decades. Every so often it reaches the headlines. Ed Dorrell’s contribution to the recently published book The State of Independence: Key challenges facing private schools today portrays the fortunes of the sector as "a political football". This may be a cliché but, as with most clichés, there’s a strong element of truth in it.
HMC executive director Mike Buchanan's rapid riposte points out the good work that independents are doing to widen access and support state schools. Like him, I wish that all schools could have the same stability, high level of funding and quality of sports provision. Levelling up should be the way to go.
But for too long the perceived polarity between maintained and independent has allowed journalists to portray each sector as homogeneous within itself. The reality is far from being so simple. Shining a searchlight on the reality of the maintained sector – something long, long overdue – will reveal a depressing gulf between the well-resourced and those who seem destined by geography, class and school type to remain disadvantaged.