Public anger over private schools | Letters

David Redshaw says the existence of a fee-paying sector keeps this country in the educational and social dark ages, Jane Moorhouse suggests all children have the right to a decent education, and Dr Ambrose Smith points out the reality of funding cuts

The headmaster of Colfe’s School says he would welcome a debate about the role of independent schools within our education system (Letters, 18 June). The debate is simple. As long as rightwing governments continue to close state school playing fields, cut the education budget to below first-world standards and generally make life difficult for state schools, they will flounder. By contrast, the well-funded private schools will provide even more state-of-the-art facilities and more middle-class parents will bankrupt themselves in order to get their children into these institutions.

The pleas from the Independent Schools Council about bursaries and assisted places are just tokenism. The continued existence of a private fee-paying sector is a big part of what keeps this country in the educational and social dark ages. It’s 70 years since Churchill and RA Butler failed to grasp this particular nettle. The only good thing that might be said about Brexit is that it may finally force us to confront these systemic problems in our national life – but at what cost.
David Redshaw
Gravesend, Kent

• Perhaps Helen Brown (Letters, 18 June) is missing the point in her letter on private schools. My children also have “hard-working parents”, but however hard I worked (in my case as a teacher in a state school), I would never be able to afford to send them to a private school. How can we ever hope to achieve a more equal society when some children benefit from a better education simply because of their parents’ financial situation? Should not all children have the right to a decent education?
Jane Moorhouse

• Your editorial (17 June) mentions an 8% cut in funding per pupil in English schools since 2009. This is certainly not representative of some schools and colleges. The sixth-form college of which I was principal and am now a governor had £4,719 per student for the year ending August 2010 and £4,128 per student for the year ending August 2018 – a cut of over 12% in eight years. However, this ignores the effect of inflation. If the ONS figure for inflation is incorporated, the value of the 2018 figure drops to £3,315 in 2010’s pounds – a cut of almost 30%. That this is impossibly unsustainable should be clear to anyone. We are a wealthy country, yet we cannot afford to educate our young people – a shameful indictment of our government and its priorities.
Dr Ambrose Smith
Principal, Aquinas College, 1989-2011

• Join the debate – email

• Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit

• Do you have a photo you’d like to share with Guardian readers? Click here to upload it and we’ll publish the best submissions in the letters spread of our print edition


The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Private schools can serve the public well | Letters
Letters: Headmaster Richard Russell thinks private schools can be engines of social mobility rather than privilege, while Helen Brown highlights the benefits for children with special educational needs


17, Jun, 2019 @4:40 PM

Article image
Funding and staff levels in schools at crisis point | Letters
Letters: School governors urge the government to ‘stop ducking its responsibilities’ and provide essential funding


11, Mar, 2019 @6:21 PM

Article image
Loosening the grip of the privately educated | Letters
Letters: Readers respond to the news that Britain’s top jobs are still in the hands of a private school elite, and offer solutions to the problem


28, Jun, 2019 @3:48 PM

Article image
The Guardian view on schools and austerity: more than just a funding crisis | Editorial
Editorial: Underpaid teachers are on the frontline as the impact of cuts to other services is felt in the classroom


16, Mar, 2018 @5:17 PM

Article image
Smaller class sizes should become the new normal in state schools | Letter
Letter: Annie Clouston says such an adjustment would be hugely beneficial to all pupils, and hopes teachers who left the profession could be enticed back


24, May, 2020 @5:26 PM

Article image
Property, pay and regional power could be the keys to ‘levelling up’ | Letters
Letters: Sheila Preston addresses property prices and pay levels, Roger Read makes a case for regional governance, Peter D Hogg suggests moving Eton College to Hartlepool, while Marilyn Hall hopes to see the end of grammar schools


08, Oct, 2021 @5:17 PM

Article image
Banksy could do a top-flight paint job | Brief letters
Brief letters: School returns | Labour | George Osborne | Boris Johnson’s plane | Bras


22, Jun, 2020 @3:59 PM

Article image
Gaps in remote learning need to be closed urgently | Letters
Letters: Hayley Brocklehurst says the fact that the government left state school parents to home school was a disgrace, Joseph Palley thinks schools and universities should remain closed in January, while Frances Kelly says laptops should be provided to every child whose parents cannot afford them


28, Dec, 2020 @4:15 PM

Article image
Private tutors plan is not the best solution | Letters
Letters: Readers are sceptical about the government’s proposal to help pupils catch up on lost learning during the pandemic


19, Jun, 2020 @3:33 PM

Article image
The 2020 exams fiasco has more to teach us yet | Letters
Letters: Salley Vickers on why the need for speed in exams is the problem, Prof Colin Richards on why private pupils still have an advantage after the government’s U-turn, and an anonymous teacher on how grades were really assessed


21, Aug, 2020 @4:13 PM