sayso is the home of progressive opinions, challenging the status quo of
Britain's culture, society and politics

No ads No paywall

By remaining outside the community, private schools are anti-community

State schools need the pushy confident and better-off parents who opt for private education, argues Robert Verkaik

Share this article

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on whatsapp
Share on facebook

When parents elect to send their children to a private school they are depriving the community of families who would otherwise take a close interest in the success and failure of the local school.

Local schools need pushy parents to drive up the standards of the school for everyone.

Every time someone resists sending their child to a private school, community cohesion is strengthened.

Children from advantaged backgrounds also improve the education experience of less-advantaged children.

Research shows that articulate, confident, able classmates are the greatest source of help for other pupils. Similarly, middle-class parents who can use their time, influence and experience boost the performance of their local school.

Today, British state schools are being outperformed by the rest of the world and so we need these children and their family resources more than ever. We are the fifth-biggest economy but twenty-fifth on the world education tables.

At the same time state schools are facing a bigger funding crisis than the NHS. It doesn’t take a Maths IGCSE to work out that this chronic underinvestment in education means the economy will suffer in the long run.

Our community schools need the support and resources of all the community.

The historian David Kynaston, a private school pupil himself (Wellington), summed up the case for community schooling in a seminal article for the New Statesman in 2014: “One has only to witness pushy private school parents on a touchline to realise that the state sector will never achieve its full capability without them; and it can only be damaging that so many of our leading figures are not personally invested in this most crucial part of our society.”

By remaining outside the community, public schools are anti-community.

It seems paradoxical that state schools located in the richest parts of the south-east benefit less from the community’s wealth, which is instead showered on private schools. I live in one of four former farm workers’ cottages in a small rural community a Surrey, a county awash with private schools.

Every morning the adults all get in our cars and drive in different directions all over the county and beyond to take our children to school. My three closest neighbours have children who are sent to schools of distances ranging from 5 to 150 miles away.

The more expensive the education, the longer the drive. And because some of them are boarding, there are many mornings when the parents don’t need to get up at all.

As a result of us all sending our kids to different schools, we don’t see very much of each other.

Our children don’t interact and so the adults don’t have a reason to mix.

Last year, an ambulance was called to one of the houses. It turned out that the old lady who had lived there for fifty years had died. But it had taken two days for anyone to notice.

This article is an extract from Posh Boys: How English Public Schools Ruin Britain by Robert Verkaik