Monday, 21 January 2008

Charity Begins At School 2: Some Additional Points

Further to my post of last week, I came across some more interesting figures on private schools and the damage they are doing to education in the UK. This comes from the BBC News website where they point out that whilst private schools take 7% of pupils, they employ 14% of the teachers in the UK, so are 'creaming off' the best teachers from the education system that 93% of the population will go through. These teachers have been trained by the state and increasingly have been given generous bursaries for subjects like mathematics and modern languages. The staff to student ratio in private schools is 1 teacher: 9 pupils, in the state sector it is apparently 1 teacher: 18 pupils, though in fact that usually translates into 1:30 in most classes. In addition more male teachers (and more of them who have more than one degree qualification, i.e. an MA/MSc or a PhD) go into private schools, which you may argue allows women to progress better in the state sector (female teachers earn 7%-22% less than men if they teach in the private sector, depending on the subject area they teach), but at a time when the lack of positive male role models for boys in schools is a clear problem, it might be healthier to keep more of them in the state sector.

Apparently parents who send their children to private schools are complaining they pay twice, once in taxes to the state school system they do not use and once again to the schools directly, so they seem to be expecting some rebate. On the same basis I expect a rebate for the nuclear weapons I do not use or the health care system in Scotland or troops sent to Iraq, none of which I have use for. The arrogance of these parents is stunning, but possibly not surprising.

The only solution I see to the parasitic nature of private schools is to close them down. You need to wipe out their charitable status immediately as they are profit-making businesses. You need to stop them recruiting any more pupils and feed the money saved from the end of their tax breaks improving state schools. With parents who have previously exempted themselves from caring about their local communities by sending their children private, actually now having to pay attention to local state schools we can expect an improvement in the support and resources they receive, though unfortunately in the already prosperous parts of the UK. Scrap private schools now and help the future of the UK and its people.

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