I don’t want to come across like Dave Spart, but I am a bit disappointed that William and Kate have decided to send George to a private school. Nothing against Thomas’s Battersea, which is part of a successful, for-profit chain, but there’s no reason to think he will get a better education there than he would at a good state primary.
One obvious choice would have been Kensington Primary Academy, the latest addition to the free school chain I co-founded in 2011. Admittedly, it hasn’t been inspected by Ofsted yet, but the other two primaries in the chain have both been rated Outstanding. He would have received a rigorous, knowledge-based education and could have walked there in 10 minutes instead of facing a daily school run of at least 30 minutes.
Fox Primary in Notting Hill is even closer to Kensington Palace. William and Kate need have no fears about George not receiving a good education there. Fox was ranked the number one primary in England by the Sunday Times last year, beating the second-placed school by some distance. In 2015, 93 percent of its pupils got level five in reading, writing and maths, which is pretty astonishing. To put this in context, 36 percent of English schoolchildren obtained level 5 in reading in 2015.
I’m sure George would have been perfectly safe at Fox’s, too. Anyone who thinks the second-in-line to the throne needs to be at a private school for security reasons is overlooking the fact that David Cameron, when he was prime minister, sent his children to a state primary in Notting Hill.
If William and Kate had made that choice it would have been a huge vote of confidence in our public education system, which has improved significantly since 2010. There are now 1.8 million fewer children in failing schools than there were seven years ago and the new national curriculum unveiled in 2014 is much more robust than its predecessor. I co-authored a parents’ guide to the national curriculum which has just been published in paperback so I know whereof I speak. And some of the new free schools that have been created since 2011 are among the best schools in the country. For instance, ARK Conway in Acton got the best results in the country in 2014. Acton is closer to Kensington Palace than Battersea.
But the main reason it would have been a good idea to send George to a state school is so he could meet children from all walks of life, not just those who can afford to go private. I don’t doubt that Prince William benefitted enormously from meeting ordinary people in his capacity as an RAF search-and-rescue pilot in Anglesey. Why make George wait until he’s left school to begin his democratic education? If he’s going to be king of this great country one day, the sooner he gets to know his subjects, the better.