Abolish Private Schools

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It’s time to abolish private schools. This may seem like leftist idealism that will never happen – but support for the issue is substantially growing in momentum. With big names and commentators such as Alan Bennett and Medhi Hasan writing in favour of abolishing fee-paying institutions.

As Bennett brilliantly put it. “to educate not according to ability, but according to the social situation of the parents, is both wrong and a waste”.  Former Education Secretary Micheal Gove described the “sheer scale, the breadth and the depth of private school dominance of our society” as a “deep problem in our country”. Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world has spoken out against the unfairness of private schools. And I’m with Buffett.

I’m not writing this to offend anyone who went to private school. Nor do I hold anything against those that did, or to parents who send their children to private schools. It’s the system that is flawed, and giving privately educated individuals an unfair advantage. In the interest of full disclosure, I went to an average comprehensive until my GCSEs and a very good state grammar for my a-levels – a sixth-form that was better than the private schools in the area. I got into due to my grades – nothing to do with my parents’ income, my postcode (I travelled two hours a day), or my ‘connections’.

This is an issue surrounding equality of opportunity – not everyone is born with equal talents, or equal academic abilities. People should be accepted into Universities, and into jobs based on merit. Not on how big a cheque Mummy and Daddy can write.

According to the House of Commons Library, 7% of the British public went to private schools. Look into any respected area of the public sector and the number of professionals who went to private school is nauseatingly higher than 7%. A recent report from Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission states that 71% of our top judges were privately educated, and 14% went to one of just five public schools (Eton, Westminster, St Paul’s Boys, Radley and Charterhouse). It’s not just the judiciary that is dominated by the 7%. Look at the armed forces, the media, or even sports people, and it’s the same story. Over 50% of British Olympians that won medals at London 2012 went to private school. 37% of BBC Question Time guests in a year were privately educated, more than 5 times the national average. 50% of Lords, 44% of the Sunday Times Rich List, and 26% of BBC Executives went to Private Schools.

Abolishing private schools could completely change the whole atmosphere of the country. Look at Finland, who abolished all private schools in the 1970s, and since are widely viewed to have one of the best education systems in the world. They have a 100% literacy rate, no school league tables, no exams until 16 – and one of the most equal societies in the entire world.

I’m not suggesting that if private schools are abolished the next day bankers won’t have bonuses, there won’t be people on the street, and inequality won’t be rife – but over time, the class divisions, and elitism would fade. We would be a better nation. We’re lucky enough to live in a county were education is a right, not a privilege. So why should the best education be left to the minority that can afford it? Sending one child to a British private school can cost up to £33,000 a year – that’s a startling 20% more than the average wage for a full time worker in the UK.

In reality, the UK is a society dominated by upper class, privately-educated white men. This is nothing new, since Queen Elizabeth has been on the throne, 11 men and 1 women have been Prime Minster, and only 6 of these people attended state schools. Half the current coalition cabinet were privately educated. David Cameron, George Osbourne, Nick Clegg and Boris Johnson, arguably the four most powerful men in the country went to public school.

I could bore you with more statistics, but I imagine you’ve got the idea by now. Individuals educated in private institutions have better access to education, more job opportunities, and better connections than those who were state-educated. This also occurs for students entering prestigious universities – at Southampton about 14% of our students were privately educated, twice the number in wider society.

Of course, there will never be a perfect system – it’s pretty likely if private schools were abolished, a postcode lottery would occur. It’s pretty likely that house prices around the best schools would increase, such that only the richest parents can afford them – but this is a solvable problem. Bringing back the 11 plus, and opportunities to go to state grammar schools for all would be one way around this issue. Countries with excellent education systems – such as those in Scandinavia – still use something similar to the grammar school system, and it works wonderfully.

Of course, there is a downside to abolishing private schools, and I’m not denying that. The cost to the tax-payer being the most apparent. According to the Department of Education, the average cost to educate a primary school child is just short of £4,000. There’s around 278,700 children of primary school age in private education, an additional 349,700 are in secondary education (up to the age of 19). The cost of this would be around £3.38 billion a year. This sounds like a mammoth amount of funding the state would have to take back in tax, but in reality it is tiny. £3.38 billion would be less than 0.47% of the UK’s 2013 expenditure. No new schools would have to be built – hundreds of private schools exist, with great teachers and great facilities, knocking them down would be ludicrous.

Our schools should be the face of promoting equality, and social responsibility – not a two-tier education system that leads to a two-tier society. It won’t be until we abolish private schools that we abolish the huge social divides between the 7% and the rest.

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Editor 2015-16. Politics Editor 2014-15. Third year Politics and Economics student, I've written for every section but primarily write politics, opinion and news pieces. I also write for The Edge, Kettle Mag, The National Student, The Student Times and the Independent and do lots of work with Surge Radio.

Discussion21 Comments

  1. avatar

    I think you should be more concerned about the state-funded selective faith schools than the private sector. Tony Blair’s kids were ‘state educated,’ but when that is at the London Oratory School its hardly them getting thrown to the Lions.

    Rather than making the purchase and sale of services illegal, why not look to bring the state sector up to the same standard? We’d be funked if we had to take on the strain of all those extra pupils. Nothing would change in terms of opportunity. Parents would just hire tutors to coach their twelve year olds into the best grammar schools. It would be the same, only it would cost more.

    Why not, instead of trying to create equality by removing the privilege of those at the top, try to improve the state of education for everyone else. Ideologically, everybody having the same opportunities would be great, but such aggressive socialist strategies would only end in an Animal Farm situation with some schools more equal than others.

    We could turn all the faith schools into non-discriminatory grammar schools, provide a set number of means-tested state funded scholarship places at all private and public schools (20%ish?) and invest in smaller class sizes at underperforming schools. Then you would be approaching a meritocracy without stepping on anybody’s freedom of choice or destroying successful educational institutions and at a fraction of the cost of outlawing the private sector.

    What else should we abolish in the name of equality? Tertiary education? Private healthcare? Private vehicle ownership? It’s all very totalitarian and “property is theft”.

    Bridie Pearson-Jones
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    Faith education and private health are completely separate issues, which too, I believe should be abolished. However this argument is not regarding those at all.

    As mentioned in the article, the extra strain on the government of educating the 7% of private school pupils in the state would not be a big strain on government finance – in fact it would be less than half a percent of expenditure. However, an attempt to bring all schools up to the level of private schools would be a huge expenditure.

    I stated in the article that abolishing private schools would not bring a perfect society, and of course there would still be problems – the point is it’s a step in the right direction. It can hardly be called an ‘aggressive socialist strategy’ when the former Tory education secretary has spoken out against them as a huge social issue in British Society.

    I think you’ve completely missed the point if you belief this article is some Marxist doctrine that puts private education on the same level as private vehicle ownership and ownership of private property.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my article – if you are as strongly opposed to it as you seem, please feel free to write a response article.

    Dan Murphey
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    Half a percent of the entire national budget is quite a large proportion though. Of course it would be a strain, we’re already borrowing over £100bn a year. If you were trying to get out of debt on 20K a year, I’d hardly imagine you’d be going out and buying a £100 necklace with the justification that it’s “only 0.5% of my annual budget.”

    That’s got to pay for pensions, nhs, defence, welfare etc. Adding 5-10% onto the education budget unnecessarily would be a mad idea. If you wanted to spend that money on education, it seems to make way more sense to let people who can afford it go private if they want and invest the same amount of money in state schools.

    Outlawing the private sector is pretty Marxist. And I can’t see much difference between the desire to abolish private education and the banning of private healthcare. Whilst both would make things more equal, neither would increase the quality of state provisions. How would it help?

    Michael Gove’s line was that he wanted to improve state schools until they were indistinguishable from private. He was saying that the gulf between the two was a problem, not that private schools in themselves are the problem. You’re being disingenuous to suggest that he was calling for the end of private schools.

    I’m all for the nationalization of pretty much anything and the improvement of state services. I don’t come from the wealthiest of backgrounds myself, but I don’t feel the need to carry a massive chip on my shoulder about it. There are always people better off. It would just be shooting an already stretched department in the foot.

    And there’s no need to get all worked up about people “missing the point.” I can’t see anything in the article that would explain how such a policy would improve the state system. Feel free to brake it down.

  2. avatar

    I went to a public school, we paid but it was non-selective, which was a huge financial strain on my parent’s income.

    However, I agree with the general idea of this article, education shouldn’t be something you have to pay for, and can lead to a huge inequality in education levels.

    I would like to say, that although your education didn’t depend on paying, it did depend on your postcode, as ultimately mine did, all of the state schools in ny area are in special measures and there aren’t any grammar schools. And it is generally schools in poorer areas which are not achieving.

    I think the best way, and only way to ever get rid of private schools is to make the state schools good enough for the private ones not to be needed, although I’m sure some people may still want to send their children to private schools.

  3. avatar

    I went to private school on a scholarship, and I agree with you completely. Although my school was a Quaker school, and scholarships were offered to anyone with a talent in sport, music, art, drama and academics at local state schools, and I don’t think home was massively sheltered, I still had somewhat of a culture shock upon going to college.

    Imagine if I didn’t have the background requiring me to sit an exam to receive excellent education? Imagine if I was there from the age of 3 to 18, rather than 9 to 16 as I was? The people who make decisions about the majority may well have done. How can they make informed decisions if they do not know how most of us grew up?

    Scary stuff.

  4. avatar

    Referring to the facebook comment I’m afraid your reply Bridie simply doesn’t hold up.

    If there are less rules for private schools when it comes to UCAS, reform UCAS, simple.

    I’m afraid can’t just hand wave my point about children reading to their parents because it is a perfectly legitimate one. People ‘buy’ education all the time. Rosetta stone to learn new laguage? You can buy it. History of Britian by Simon Schama? You can but it. Horrible Histories? You can buy it? Children’s chemisty sets? You can buy them. And they all give an educational advantage over those that can’t, and I’m sorry but you have said nothing to refute the fact that they are the logical consequence of your beliefs.

    You ask what ‘right’ children with rich parents have to an education, well it’s simple, their parents have the right to pay for it because it’s their money and as such they have the right to spend on what they wish. Don’t like it? Tough, it’s none of your business. The right to decide what to spend your money on, how your child should be educated and who you associate with are fundamental to a free society and not to meddled with. If negative side effects emerge then you have to deal with the side effects as they are outweighed by the negative consequences of removing the cause.

    Private schools also provide something with which to compare the performance of state schools which otherwise would not be obvious and which could allow teaching unions and the government to disguise problems. Which they did for much of the last decade by inflzaating exam results.

    Private schools (and faith schools for that matter) are also beneficial to political and social pluralism by ensuring that there alterntaive forms of education to the state and thus alternatuive perspectives amongst young people to the ones provided by the state, as Germany knows all too well. If anything we should encourage a wider availability of independent schools for people.

    Do not assume that having a private education guarantees you a great future, many of the people are went to my school with never went to university and are doing blue collar or lower status white collar jobs because they simply weren’t academically gifted.The reason why privately educated children are so much better represented at the top of society is again because the state school system in this country is so shockingly bad. Before comprehensivisation the proportion of state school children at university far outweighed those from private education and was increasing until comprehensives ruined it, and that was without special measures or the ham-fisted positive discrimination governments try to enforce on unis there days.

    Selective education, along with proper technical and vocational schools will give poor children with an equal if not better education than private schools, which was the case in the 50s and 60s. School vouchers for lower income families would also improve the class balance of independent schools.

    Finally, Finland is not necessarily the paragon it’s held up as, as can be seen in these two articles:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/finnish-education-isnt-all-its-cracked-up-to-be/story-e6frg6zo-1226487687707?nk=e8604639b9bacb0096f845bafaedced1

    and:

    http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2013/06/is-finland-a-choice-less-education-miracle/

    From the second one I will just quote this paragraph about the PISA rankings:

    ‘while Finland scores well on PISA, this particular league table is designed to test everyday rather than curriculum-based knowledge. This means that it lacks key concepts of importance for further studies in mathematically intensive subjects, such as engineering, computer science, and economics. This is an obvious defect: such subjects are likely to be crucial for developed countries’ future economic well-being.’

    William Cable
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    Sorry that should be ‘parents reading to their children’ and ‘you have said nothing to refute the fact that banning them all is the logical consequence of your beliefs.’

  5. avatar

    Totally agree, if the private school sector were removed yes there would be a brief slump but with time the system would improve and certainly help the class divide (which has got much worse over the years).

    The “tackling the deficit” argument doesn’t stack up as this is a comparatively short term issue compared to that of a fairer education system. What argument do they turn to when the deficit is gone?

    Even though I have benefited from a grammar school system myself (in Kent), I still remain sceptical of the system. “Sink” schools in the area are always created, those which no one wants to go to.

    William Cable
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    It’s a classic zero sum fallacy to say that getting rid of private schools will improve state education. All that would happen is that everyone would get a terrible education, as by definition the money spent on private schools would simply go back to the parents, who will probably then spend it on books, private tutoring and anything else they can do to improve their child’s chances, as is their right.

    The class divide is a problem but you get rid of that by increasing opportunities not restricting them. It is not the responsibility of parents who can afford to send their children private to cure this country’s social problems, and banning private schools is a profound violation of parents’ rights, the right to private property and enterprise, and the right of free association.

    Sink schools exist in every system the difference is that with comprehensives it’s a postcode lottery, whereas with selective education if you are clever you can actually get the education you deserve. And for those who don’t make it it’s easier to tailor teaching to suit their needs.

    Unconvinced
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    Yea but all your stuff about rights is just bluster. It’s only a violation of actually-existing rights so long as the law remains unchanged. And Bridie is suggesting we change it so that’s like, kind of the point.

    Perhaps instead you’re mean like some weird moral rights. But if so then you’d better be able to show:
    a) where these come from if not the product of a social consensus (which is subject to change)
    b) why these trump other rights (such as the right of each child to have an equal start in life. And
    c) Why we can’t curtail rights to property and association in this case, when we quite merrily curtail them in thousands of other ways every day.

    Good luck w/ that.

    Also just because we can’t ban all forms of child-advantaging (e.g. reading to children), doesn’t mean Bridie can’t argue that we ban the most egregious forms. That’s like, well silly.

    Also it made my brain hurt when you argued that private schools prevent grade inflation by pointing to the example of Britain and claiming it has both private schools and grade inflation.

    Also was that like a little Nazi reference when you talked about Germany? Because like there was plenty of private schooling in the Nazi era. So maybe it’s like the private schools that make the Nazis? Or then maybe like Nazis aren’t really relevant here.

    Also with like the greatest respect to the Swedish free-market blogger at the Spectator I’m probably still going to go with the whole Europe-wide, internationally accredited PISA results thing.

    Also, so like when you say that it was comprehensivisation of state schooling that led to privately educated students taking all the top jobs in the establishment I think that’s like a massive anti-fact because I don’t think there was like a secret golden era in like pre-war times where there were shed loads of working class judges, surgeons, prime ministers, generals, business owners and central bankers an stuff.

    Dan Murphey
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    Christ, like, how many ‘likes’, like can you, like, get into one reply, like? I’m assuming you’re at University, which is like genuinely fucking terrifying, like.

    Your right to live freely and do pretty much whatever you want that doesn’t hurt anybody else. If you needed an operation that would take a year to happen on the NHS, and you had the money to do it immediately privately, do you think that should be banned in the name of fairness?

    It is literally none of your business what other people choose to do with their money. Improve state provisions to the point where the private sector is pointless. Don’t just outlaw the private sector in the hope that that would improve the state sector, “like somehow, I dunno, however, like.” It’s all just green-eyed, ideological totalitarianism.

    I completely understand why the enforced nationalization of monopolies–such as the burgeoning private health companies that are rinsing the NHS dry and the train companies that can do whatever the fuck they want–would be a great idea. A mix of socialist and libertarian policies have been proven far more successful than any totalitarian regime anywhere, ever.

    Where are you getting that every child has the right to an equal start in life? The only ideology that could even approach that provision would be Communism. How many times on this website do I have to tell people to READ SOME FUCKING ORWELL. It is great to endeavor to provide all citizens with the best start possible. It’s not a right. It’s not even possible.

    Your rights to property and of association are not curtailed in thousands of ways every day. What on earth are you on about? You’re not allowed weapons grade plutonium (or guns). You’re not allowed drugs (utter bollocks, I know). You’re not allowed to loiter around schools naked. Bigamy isn’t allowed. There are a few more I guess. The thing that all laws have in common though is that they are either in place to protect other people or they are inherently wrong and meant to be broken. The moral right to harmlessly live your life how you want is not ‘weird.’

    Unconvinced
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    1. Every child having an equal chance in life ≠ communism
    2. Way to misunderstand Orwell (who was a lifelong socialist!)
    3. Health isn’t as much of a positional good as education, so they may legitimately require different responses (nuance is like, ok)
    4. If you really think the laws on how you spend your money are limited to nukes, drugs and bigamy(?!) and a ‘few more’ that’s hilarious. Buy a copy of the tax code, and look up some business regulations and have a read.
    5. If you buy your brat a fancy education and they take a job from my equally talented brat who went to a state school that seems to me like your brat pretty obviously affects my brat. So “live and let live” isn’t really on the table.

    lily
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    Well if your talented ‘brat’ is as talented as you say, then they will go to university? (I’m assuming as you are at uni, you value education and so your brats will have the same views). Universities all have quotas of the number of state educated children they have to accept into uni. So being state educated wouldn’t have affected your child, and may even help them get into uni.

    It seems like you have a chip on your shoulder about private schools. I would say I feel the exact same way about grammar schools. How at 11 can you judge a child and say they will either achieve academically or not?

    Unconvinced
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    Um no because if two equally talented kids go to state and private schools (respectively) the latter (because of the support they receive) is far more likely to get into a better university. This (along with their private school connections) will set them up pretty sweetly if they then attend a job interview with their equally talented counterpart.

    Dan Murphey
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    1. All children do not have a right to an equal start in life in this society. It’s not even built into the state education system. How would you achieve this? You’d need to make every school identical. Such a provision in any society is basically impossible.
    2. Orwell was anti-totalitarian. Way to misunderstand the nuances of Orwell. You are forwarding a totalitarian opinion. Socialism is not totalitarian. I am also a socialist, I just don’t think its right to make private industry illegal in the absence of it constituting a monopoly. Read some Orwell again, please. It is pretty safe to say that he is against the idea of state monopolies.
    3. Like, of course health is a ‘positional good.’ If you can, like, afford to get your life saving treatment privately, like, you stand a better chance of surviving than going through the NHS, like. Like, If you afford to get a private education, like you stand a better chance of getting good grades. Like, basically analogous. (Can you really not see how dumb it sounds to write ‘like.’ It sounds like you’e asking a question and have no faith in what you’re saying. Which I kinda understand in this particular situation, but it is so hard to take you seriously.)
    4. I was listing things that an individual may feasibly want to own privately with brevity and some hyperbole. Your freedom to employ private industry in favour of a state monopoly is basically untouched in any other case. You said thousands, but if you could list ten other things along the lines of education where our “rights to property and association” are curtailed then I’d be impressed.
    5. Improve the state provisions, rather than moaning about how well educated the private kids are.

    Unconvinced
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    Wow – not having private schools is totalitarian? Really? Like I understand that none of us have ever lived in a totalitarian society, but we can at least, like, try to imagine what it would be like right? And I’m pretty sure it’s not like, say, Finland, in which there is no private schooling.

    You’re all really cute with your logical conclusion stuff – like a commitment to any principleof equality reuqires mad obsessive violent pursuit of that equality. But that’s like obv way silly isn’t it. Like if someone says that men and women ought to have the same opportunities in the workplace, that wouldn’t be totalitarian? We wouldn’t have to give men and women absolutely identical upbringings in gender free state laboratories? But what we ought to do is to move to ensure that large and institutionalised inequalities ought to be addresses.

    Ditto with children having an equal start in life (which btw you have to endorse the value of if you’re going to endorse an actual meritocracy – unless you believe rich people are like genetically superior and stuff in which case I don’t really want to talk any more). No-one is saying that that requires us to monitor all parents at all times, and pull out fingernails when we see inequality. That’s just a bizarre interpretation. But it does mean that one can still believe that we should remove (again) large and institutionalised inequalities that can be addressed through everyday democratic policy (like, cough, private schooling).

    I don’t think sink schools means what you think it means (they certainly don’t have privileged kids there) and either way, you kind of undermine your own argument. So state schools with rich kids are really fancy, you say? THAT’S THE POINT! Once rich parents have to take an interest in their local state school (through tax, donations and governance) it IMPROVES THE STATE SCHOOLS. So let’s do more of that, and make sure local schools have a nice mix of pupils from different backgrounds (like they do in lots of countries in Europe). That doesn’t strike me as either totalitarian or utopian.

    Dan Murphey
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    The enforcement of state monopolies is a totalitarian approach to socialism. I don’t see how that can be argued against.

    I know it’s awful when people bring logic into things, must be really frustrating for you. And yes a totalitarian approach to gender equality would be silly. If every industry enforced a 50/50 gender split, from construction workers, to teachers, to CEOs, we’d all be in a spot of bother.

    Sink schools are schools in deprived areas where the losers in the postcode lottery wind up. They won’t be sending kids from Fulham to them. There is no real reason to believe that the banning of private schools would solve the inequalities of the state system.

    William Cable
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    ‘Also it made my brain hurt when you argued that private schools prevent grade inflation by pointing to the example of Britain and claiming it has both private schools and grade inflation.’

    Clearly you didn’t read it then. The point I was making is that the superior performance of private schools illustrated that there was a problem with state schools, not that it prevented it.

    ‘Perhaps instead you’re mean like some weird moral rights. But if so then you’d better be able to show:
    a) where these come from if not the product of a social consensus (which is subject to change)
    b) why these trump other rights (such as the right of each child to have an equal start in life. And
    c) Why we can’t curtail rights to property and association in this case, when we quite merrily curtail them in thousands of other ways every day.’

    So if the social consensus decided murdering you spouse’s lover was acceptable that would be like, ok?

    All children have the right to good start in life, not an equal one. Some are more intelligent, some more charismatic, some more athletic etc etc. Some have loving parents, some have bad parents, etc.etc.

    ‘Also just because we can’t ban all forms of child-advantaging (e.g. reading to children), doesn’t mean Bridie can’t argue that we ban the most egregious forms. That’s like, well silly.’

    Why can’t we? We could ban museum visits not authorised by a school easily enough, we could ban the private sale of children’s books. We could make the non-state imparting of knowledge for money to anyone under the age of 18 a criminal offence. All of which are a logical progression of this article.

    ‘Also was that like a little Nazi reference when you talked about Germany? Because like there was plenty of private schooling in the Nazi era. So maybe it’s like the private schools that make the Nazis? Or then maybe like Nazis aren’t really relevant here.’

    There was no independent schooling in Nazi Germany. Hitler made a point of bringing all independent schools and church schools under state control as soon as possible, and imposed a uniformly ideological curriculum on them. He said that he did not care about his adult opponents because their children would be his. I bring it up in this discussion because Germany has one of the best state education systems in the world, but still makes a point of protecting private schools in it’s very constitution, alongside things like freedom of speech, religion and association (which itself would be violated under this proposal)

    ‘Also, so like when you say that it was comprehensivisation of state schooling that led to privately educated students taking all the top jobs in the establishment I think that’s like a massive anti-fact because I don’t think there was like a secret golden era in like pre-war times where there were shed loads of working class judges, surgeons, prime ministers, generals, business owners and central bankers an stuff.’

    That’s because pre war education was terrible. Full grammar school provision took place after the war and was doing wonders for social mobility. Hear’s a stat for you. Between 1964 – 1997 5 different people served as Prime Minister. 3 Conservatives and 2 Labour, 4 men and 1 woman. All of them state educated. All of them Grammar school pupils. Since then? 3 PMs, 1 went to Eton and 1 went to the Scottish equivalent of Eton. That’s the legacy of Comprehensives.

    Make state education better. Introduce school vouchers and Direct Grant schools to open up independent schools to lower income families. Maximise choice, maximise pluralism, don’t restrict it.

    Unconvinced
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    “All children have the right to good start in life, not an equal one. Some are more intelligent, some more charismatic, some more athletic etc etc. Some have loving parents, some have bad parents, etc.etc.”

    You’re confusing an equal progression with an equal opportunity to progress. The (pretty benign) claim is that every child should have an equal opportunity to succeed in proportion to their talents. This is kind of a big part of why feudalism or caste societies are you know, like bad. Are you actually disagreeing?

    “So if the social consensus decided murdering you spouse’s lover was acceptable that would be like, ok?”

    Not with me. But in opposing it I’d be making a moral claim that I’d have to defend. Merely asserting some magic rights won’t cut it.

    “Why can’t we? We could ban museum visits not authorised by a school easily enough, we could ban the private sale of children’s books. We could make the non-state imparting of knowledge for money to anyone under the age of 18 a criminal offence.”

    We certainly could do all of those. But like I said, it would obv be really silly.

    “There was no independent schooling in Nazi Germany. Hitler made a point of bringing all independent schools and church schools under state control as soon as possible, and imposed a uniformly ideological curriculum on them.”

    Right, but you realise that the Nazi’s making these laws weren’t doing so in crayons at their local kindergarten, and would instead have been through the old private school system, right?

    Right, that’s one data point (skewed by the fact that PM’s are chosen rather than appointed). What about judges, surgeons, ministers, generals, business owners and central bankers, journalists etc etc. We’re they all dominated by working class students pre-comprehensivisation? Nope.

    “Make state education better.”
    So long as rich people can pay to get out of state education, why would they ever agree to pay extra to make it better? If you want to make state education better, chuck the kids of millionaires in with the rest of the unwashed masses and watch the investment pour in.

    Dan Murphey
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    “So long as rich people can pay to get out of state education, why would they ever agree to pay extra to make it better? If you want to make state education better, chuck the kids of millionaires in with the rest of the unwashed masses and watch the investment pour in.”

    You are aware of sink schools, right? There are already loads of state schools frequented by millionaires. There aren’t many kids getting free school dinners at the grey coat school or the London Oratory. Rich kids will get coached into the selective grammars or will be geographically placed into an exclusive “non-selective” faith school. There will still be ignored comprehensives. Some schools will always be “more equal” than others. You are being fanciful to believe that banning private schools is any kind of solution. As usual a totalitarian solution would only breed more inequality, as it would just result in the state paying for the rich’s privileged educations as opposed to them paying for it themselves. You are at University I’m guessing, you really, really must be able to understand why totalitarian approaches to Socialism are unworkable.

    Dan Murphey
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    “You’re confusing an equal progression with an equal opportunity to progress. The (pretty benign) claim is that every child should have an equal opportunity to succeed in proportion to their talents. This is kind of a big part of why feudalism or caste societies are you know, like bad. Are you actually disagreeing?”

    They aren’t confusing anything. Yes, we SHOULD live in a perfect meritocracy. But if your idea is to achieve this is by removing advantage rather than matching it, then its only going to result in poor education for everyone. You have decided rather arbitrarily that private education is the point at which advantage is given, therefore outlaw it. Why draw the line there though? No educational trips unless it is to something that every other child has already seen. Bloody privileged museum-mongers.

    I’m sure everyone here is in complete accord that a meritocracy is the ideal. It just so happens that your idea of how to get there is poorly though-out, completely insane, and destructive rather than constructive. It is very hard to achieve equality by bringing the bottom up. It is very easy to achieve equality by just abolishing the top and making sure everyone has it similarly hard. Whilst it is tempting to take the easy option, all it would result in is us all being in a crappy situation.

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