Monday, 30 March 2015

The jewel in the British education system

Although the state education system has continued to disappoint there has, at least, been one jewel in British education and that is the public school system, or the independent sector, as it is now more accurately known. Without these schools there is no knowing what kind of dire state our country would now be in. Just one statistic spells out their achievement – for many years roughly 50% of all Oxbridge undergraduates came from independent schools, despite accounting for only 7% of pupils, and this was attained in the face of repeated changes to the admissions policy to favour pupils from the state sector. In the A-level league tables, only six of the top 50 schools are in the state sector and all of these are selective, ie grammar schools. There are no comprehensive schools in the top 100.

Needless to say liberals loathe the independent schools, denouncing them as elitist institutions that cream off resources to the detriment of pupils in the state sector. It is worth remembering that parents who send their children to independent schools face three financial burdens, since they pay fees to the independent school, they pay taxes to fund the state education sector and they save the exchequer the cost of educating their own children.

A favourite argument of liberals, repeatedly employed, is that if the independent schools were brought into the state system, the performance of the latter would be raised out of all recognition, as a result of the increased pressure to improve standards that would come from parents who currently use the independent sector. Such wild optimism ignores the precedents of the destruction of grammar and direct grant schools, that resulted in a levelling down, not a raising, of standards. The true reason that liberals want to finish off the independent sector is that it provides a constant reminder of the failure of most state comprehensives to meet its high standards.

No comments:

Post a Comment