Matthew Parris has launched a critique on the charitable status of public schools in this morning’s Times. Matthew is not opposed to private education, just to the arrogance of the bastions of privilege that sell a lifestyle and connections as well as an education. Echoing the government’s social mobility Tsar, Alan Milburn, Matthew argues that these schools should earn their breaks by doing more for the communities that surround them, the vast darkness outside their hallowed walls.
He then urges the government to take the fight to the public schools, and, by extension, the legal system that protects their special position. He also backs publicly funded scholarships, a proposal of the Sutton Trust’s Sir Peter Lampl which was unveiled in the Spectator in March. Matthew says that Conservatives must be the torch bearers of meritocracy, and that anything that can be done to break the closed circle of advantage should be done.
It is, obviously, in the interest of public schools to change, something that they have been reluctant to do to date. Matthew quotes Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council, who recently took the Charities Commission to a tribunal over proposed reform, and won. As Stephen Robinson wrote in the magazine a few weeks ago, school fees, inflated by the influx of the progeny of the global superrich, are now beyond the middle classes and even many affluent professionals, so public support for these strange institutions is no longer guaranteed.Tags: Education, Private sector