I come late to the panel about breaking down the Berlin Wall between private and state education, in times to hear James O’Shaughnessy suggest that non-pupil-premium parents might want to donate a similar amount of funding (£1300) to their child’s school. I have a view on this. It is similar to my husband wondering why we now have to pay for our green wheelie bin to be emptied, when we already pay council tax. Perhaps I misunderstood his meaning.
A question from the floor asks, how do we define private education? Munira Mirza says that state schools need to work more closely with private schools to raise their game and win back particularly middle class parents. Parents pay for all the extras at private schools, and the state simply cannot meet these costs (a crowd member suggests private schools save the state £3b).
Becky Francis talks about dis incentivising private education, removing charitable status because it is not charity to educate the elite to maintain the social hierarchy (not her word but I think this was the gist). James suggests that private schools would wither if there state sector was brilliant; many disagree, though.
A student suggests that removing the private sector whilst still insisting on a system of meritocracy would create another “Berlin Wall” in education. Interesting point. Next, a teacher from a prep school that deals with a diverse group of students takes exception to the suggestion that teachers are not held to the same standards in private schools as in state schools; Becky suggests that applying the Progress 8 measure to ALL schools will improve transparency and possibly be a fairer measure when judging quality of teaching, giving parents a more genuine choice.
Charlotte Fear from the GSA professes dismay that the Berlin Wall she and colleagues have worked so hard to remove is being rebuilt; she goes on to admit that the independent sector is horribly divided among its various associations and wonders, is there a communication problem? The responses to this reference the the suggestion that the Attlee government could have got rid of private education and I am prompted by my recent attendance at a Richard Evans lecture on counter factual history at Bristol Festival of Ideas to wonder if anybody has ever written an essay about the impact this might have had on the UK. I feel like that would help me to understand the Dante better, but given that Evans suggested that the left generally rejects counterfactual history, I think it might turn out to be difficult to find one that remains politically neutral. There is also a suggestion that social inequality needs to be tackled everywhere, not just in education – first class train travel, for example.
Munira suggests that the private/state debate is a distraction from improving state schools across the board.
Very interesting discussions: I don’t feel like my write up is particularly coherent, apologies. Missing the first half probably didn’t help.