Private Schools Should Replace Grammar Schools! – Liberal Article

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Time for Private Schools to Earn Their Charity Status and More! – Liberal Article

Well, this isn’t the first time I have talked about private schools and I doubt it will be the last. Unfortunately for you Labour readers, I’m not as anti-private schools as you think and most Tories here will think I’m mad.

So here’s my idea: private schools should replace grammar schools. Yep, bizarre am I right? At least give me a chance to explain why this might actually be a good idea.

Firstly, let’s talk about the failure of grammar schools; a conservative idea that almost everyone on the left hates. I genuinely can’t think of any reason why they are still around. The main purpose of grammar schools is to offer the best state education to the best students. Almost the quality of private schools for those who cannot afford it. This should be a home run policy, however, only 97% of students can afford FSM. 

It is easy to see why this happens. Parents will simply invest in tutoring to make sure their children smash exams, move their kids to the right area, or pull a few strings, and hey presto, your child has a top-quality free education. That is why I think grammar schools have failed.

So what is wrong with private schools? There are two major flaws with private schools at the moment.

Firstly, they have charity status. They are non-profit organisations that pay no tax because they offer a few bursaries. Bursaries offer to pay for students’ education or at least part of it. Although a good cause, private schools only offer 6,000 students free education. Their charity is actually non-existent. They save much more in tax than they spend helping children’s education.

The second problem is their elitism. Most students are white, upper-class kids who are taken and, until they reach 18, are hidden away from the real world, never understanding their privilege.

At this point, I break with the typical Labour voter. Most would start to call for private schools to be banned. I, on the other hand, call for them to do their part for society.

Private schools, no matter what you say, are fantastic in their facilities, care and staff. I also think that you should, if you can afford it, try to help your child the best you can in life. I personally believe one of our main duties as humans is to help our children succeed the best they can; obviously, education is key.

So, here is my compromise; private schools replace grammar schools and actually start working as charities. A minimum of 10%, let’s say, must be on 100% bursaries and these children must come from families who cannot afford private school. Another 10% must receive a 25%-50% bursary as well, but these children must be again outside the top 5% of household earnings.

The school can choose who attends, but they must meet certain restrictions. If they do not, they lose their charity status. This must be monitored strictly!

This fixes every major problem for me; it creates diversity at private schools, removes the grammar schools bias, and actually has private schools do their bit for society.

There are complications to this and I’m not saying there aren’t. We have to be strict in making sure these aren’t all sports scholarships, that they do actually offer scholarships to those who need and deserve them. I also believe having tests at age 13, as most private schools do, is better than at age 11. Private schools will also aim to get the best students who are not only intelligent but will possess all-round personalities.

Knowing I have probably annoyed both Labour and Tories, I can’t wait to hear the responses. As many of my readers, friends and family know, I come up with some out of the box ideas. Personally, this seems like a win-win for all. Labour readers won’t think this will go far enough, but at least grammar schools are removed and you start to tackle private schools. Tories, you know that private schools are becoming outdated. This brings them into the 21st century.

Let’s compromise, move forward together, and finally make good changes for education!

Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Max Anderson

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Point of Information

Why tolerate private schools at all? – A Labour Response

Although I respect Max’s optimism for the opportunity to reform private education, I am unfortunately one of the Labour readers that believes this won’t go far enough.

Given many of these institutions’ entrenched history of elitism, I am sceptical that private schools could ever be successfully reformed into charitable institutions. But even if they could be, ultimately a two-tiered, pay to win system will continue to fail our children and harm social mobility in this country. 

Max’s proposal of requiring 10% of places at private schools to be provided at no cost to children from underprivileged backgrounds sounds like it has potential. But, given the extortionate level of private school fees in this country, which the vast majority of parents cannot afford, I am unconvinced that this would stop private schools being a cause of inequality. Most less privileged children will continue to lose out on the chance to make connections with their more advantaged peers; something that is surely bad for social cohesion. 

But perhaps more importantly, they will receive an inferior education because of their parent’s income. After all, if private schools didn’t provide better opportunities for their students, why would parents pay for them? The statistics are unambiguous on the opportunities that private education provides. Despite only 7% of schoolchildren being privately educated, this small portion of society goes on to dominate our media, politics, and universities, to name a few. 

Max astutely details the problems that grammar schools pose for social mobility through the gaming of catchment areas and admission tests by the middle classes. But, why tolerate private schools at all? Surely the determinant for the quality of education a child receives being their parents’ wealth is wrong regardless. The classic example of a country which did away with private education is Finland; its well-funded school system built on the principle of equal opportunity makes it one of the best performing globally. 

Short of abolishing private schools though, a reform I would add to Max’s agenda is restricting the number of privately educated students to top universities, and public sector jobs including the Civil Service and Parliament.

Written by Guest Labour Writer, Brian Byrne

To solve elitism by turning all selective schools private? – A contradictory approach to diversity and “the grammar school bias” – A Conservative Response

I have yet to respond to a Point of Information article as striking and undeniably ‘out of the box’ as Max’s. As my colleague predicted, I as the Tory respondent find myself aggravated and flooded by counterapproaches. Yet, not at all for the reasons suggested.

Complaints about the elitism of both private and grammar schools appear merged into one; as if they are not entirely separate issues which can sustain no quick fix. On one hand, private schools are designed to naturally foster elitism with their high fees, so it’s inevitable that their diversity is low even in 2020. Grammar schools, however, suffer from elitism only by default as several parents navigate the world of private education without paying stark fees.

As someone who went to a grammar school sixth form myself, I see this proportion of ‘potentially private school’ students as a relevant but in no way entirely encompassing category.

Why then, would we ever choose to favour the type of institution that is naturally designed to ostracise disadvantaged students and eradicate the other to solve exactly that?

Why point elitism out as an issue of inequality if your “compromise” forces 80% of students wanting to attend a selective (grammar) institution to pay full fees? Hardly “a win-win for all”. Especially when any economically disadvantaged student has only a 10% chance of getting a ‘free ride’ as they would’ve at their previous grammar school.

Max’s proposed solution to the “grammar school bias” appears therefore randomised. He contradicts his own line of reasoning as the article progresses. In all, the quota concept as above does absolutely nothing to raise overall numbers of disadvantaged students in selective institutions.

I don’t disagree with the fact that private education as a concept is extremely outdated and their charity status is undeserved. Much can be done to solve this of private schools through isolated tax reform policy to debate the charity status.

Policies should be designed to work in conjunction with grammar schools. Such as increasing the number of such selective institutions and improving levels of teaching in underprivileged areas. Or, heaven forbid, simply improving state schools!

Written by Junior Conservative Writer, Emily Taylor

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Max Anderson
Publisher/ Founder at | Website

I am currently in my second year of reading Politics at the University of Exeter. My first interaction with politics was at the tender age of four years old.

Brian Byrne
Guest Labour Writer | Website
Emily Taylor
Junior Conservative writer | Website

I am a first year student reading Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Exeter. After completing my degree, I wish to go on to study Public Policy at a postgraduate level.

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