Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
Education is a basic human right and all children, no matter what class they were born into, should be entitled to free, good quality education. Private schools make this difficult as they often have the best teachers and resources whilst state schools often fall behind. Whilst there certainly are good quality state schools, most do not compare to the education received at private schools. The schools can afford enough resources to ensure all their children get the best education. It sounds amazing, right? So how is it fair that the top percentile of the rich can afford to give their kids this education, while everyone else has to hope they’re lucky enough to have a good state school in their catchment area.
Children do not necessarily have to be achieving top grades to get into private schools, if their parents can afford to pay for their education then they can rest assured that there is a top quality private school for them to attend. Not to mention that in many cases parents will be able to provide their child with a top-notch tutor, on top of paying for their fees.
Even grammar schools favour the rich. While they are free to attend it is undoubtedly a privilege to go to one. The pressure to maintain top grades at these schools often means paying for tutors. Moreover, children who are able to go to grammar schools often come from privileged families who have also had good education and resources and so are able to push their children in that direction. Grammar schools are also more likely to be found in more well-off areas that leaves those living in further out disadvantaged areas to worry about the cost of actually getting to the school.
The sad reality of the private school system is that it leaves the less fortunate behind. Without a family who have been to a good school, it is hard for the next generation to work their way up. Just like it is easy for private school families to remain private school families throughout generations.
As well as having received a superior education, simply the private school name gets these kids further in life. Private school educated students are six times more likely to attend Oxford, Cambridge or another Russell Group University compared to state school educated students.
Following plans to make the most selective universities most accessible, leading private schools have challenged this. They believe that this could mean discrimination against young students ‘on the basis of the class they were born into’. The private school sector is discriminatory against those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and their acceptance is based on the class that children were born into. These institutions do not mind when it is them that benefits from a system that benefits the rich and privileged. There is a certain superiority to having had to pay for your education, as though they are somehow better for being born into a privilege that allows them these advantages.
Why do we consider it to be a fair system that those who can afford to pay for their school education get to go to the better universities, and end up in higher ranking jobs that allow them to continue this system on? The system benefits the rich and our government is run by the rich. On the 13th July 2016 Theresa May in her first speech as Prime Minister even acknowledged that ‘if you’re at a state school, you’re less likely to reach the top professions than if you’re educated privately’. The Conservatives are aware that this system is benefiting them, and so it remains. There have been no calls by our Conservative government to abolish private schools. In his 2019 General Election campaign Jeremy Corbyn said he would abolish private schools, at which these institutions were outraged.
Private schools maintain a massive gap between the rich and the poor, and it is extremely hard to climb that ladder. But that ladder shouldn’t exist. All children should be given the same education no matter their families wealth.
A child’s education should never be based on whether or not their parents have the money to be able to go to private school. This amount of money does not automatically make a child motivated to study and work-hard, just like not being able to afford to go to a private school doesn’t mean a child will be a distracted slob. Private school children will go on to top class universities and top class jobs, whilst those from disadvantaged backgrounds have to work significantly harder to get to the same place as they do not have the money or the token of a private school name to get them through.
It is no secret to anybody that the private school system continually benefits those who can afford it, and leaves those who cannot behind. All children should be entitled to a top quality education, regardless of their background and their parents’ affluency.