British independent schools are under more scrutiny today than at any point in their history. Never before have so many of the British elites wanted to use their services, and never before have they been so reluctant to spring to their defence.
The independent schools are the victims of their own success. While continuing to outperform the state sector in academic achievements, rising fees have lifted them beyond the reach of much of the middleclass bedrock that has filled their classrooms over the generations, and they are recruiting increasing numbers of affluent foreign pupils.
Recent reports from Sir
However much the state sector has improved, and it has strengthened considerably, the independent sector has improved all the more quickly, and its excellence in certain subjects, notably the sciences, mathematics and modern languages, means that its pupils are eagerly sought after by top universities.
The increasing talk now is of 'positive discrimination' to give state school children an easier hurdle to jump over to get into university. But this is an admission of failure that
Higher fee levels at independent schools have been a particular source of public anger. Since 1990, increases considerably above the rate of inflation have taken the price of a boarding school place to around £30,000 a year, beyond the pockets of most British families.
Higher salaries for teachers, not itself an unworthy cause, have been the biggest factor in this. Many boarding schools have resorted to bringing in children from overseas, notably from
The children of Russian oligarchs, Chinese plutocrats, and the ultra-wealthy from Korea,
It is a feather in
The majority of British independent schools are not boarding. They are far more akin to the old-style state grammar schools, offering an excellent academic education and a five-day week. These independent schools charge much lower fees, ranging from £8,000 to £18,000 a year, roughly half that of the boarding schools. They are immune from some of the criticisms of the public boarding schools, but they too need to move with the times.
British schools and, indeed, universities have been oddly reluctant to set up branches overseas. This is in stark contrast to institutions from other countries, including
British independent schools can also replicate themselves at home, albeit with a different model. This is by setting up academies bearing the name of the mother school. We thus set up
The response has been lukewarm. It has been almost a year since the meeting, but few schools yet show signs of wanting to engage with the agenda. Some schools claim they are already making their contribution by offering 'bursaries', or fee support to those who cannot afford full fees. But a reliance on bursaries alone is not enough as it plucks the brightest and best out of state schools and does nothing to build bridges or trust between the independent and state sectors.
Independent schools in
- How Football Continues to Influence Spanish and Italian Politics
- Breakup of Euro Would Be 'Cardiac Arrest' for Europe
- 'All the Choices are Ugly' for Europe
- European Leadership is Limp, But Merkel on Steroids is Not the Answer
- A Date with History: Germany's 1990 Re-Unification
- Tensions Between Germany and Greece Run Deep
- Germany Must Shift from Crisis Agenda to Positive Political Agenda for Europe
- Breakdown of British Euroscepticism
- Geopolitics is an Existential Issue for Poland
- How to Arrest Assange without Violating International Law
- The Risks for British Schools in Relying on Rich Foreign Pupils
- Russian Novelists in Thrall to Tolstoy's Legacy
- Tips for Riding Europe's Subways and Buses
- Spanish Enterprises Need Latin America for Economic Expansion
- From Beatings to Tweets, Racism on the Rise in Greece
- Balkan Countries Loaded with Firearms
- European Union Better Off as Concentric Powers, Not US Imitation
- Siena Conference Further Evidence of Stalemated Euro Zone
- UK Economy Still in Recession as Decline Extends
- Spain May Need International Bailout
- Greece Carries Weight of Economic Crisis to London Olympics
- Greece to Undergo Review by International Auditors
- Moody's Lowers Outlook for Germany, Two Others from Stable to Negative
- Spain Announces Deep Austerity, New Taxes
- Spain's 10-year Bond Yields Reach Above 7 Percent
- Greece Backtracks on Bailout Deal Changes
- Greek Economic Crisis Not Slowing Corruption
(c) 2012 Global Viewpoint Network; Distributed by Tribune Media Services