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Posted by on Jun 23, 2007 in ban private schools, private education | 0 comments

Ban private schools?

It’s probably worth recapping and summarizing some of my points:

I am exploring the suggestion that we ban private schools. You have come up with a great many objections, including:

1. The state cannot deliver quality education.

My response. Then let’s have a voucher system in which the state and private schools compete for children. But with NO TOP UPS. And no alternative. This allows private provision and healthy competition. But all schools remain funded by general taxation.

2. The middle classes will still have an unfair advantage by being able to move close to the best schools.

My response. We can deal with this by making the value of the voucher dependent on the socio-economic intake of the school. The more wealthy the parents, the less the voucher is worth. Adjust the voucher values accordingly and you make sure that the middleclasses won’t clump together around the best schools. There will be a much greater social mix.

3. Parents will play the system by, e.g. pretending to be poor single parents when they’re not.

My response. This will give them no advantage. Think about it….

4. Funding is not the issue. It’s things like peer group etc that really make the difference to the quality of schooling.

My response. The variable value voucher system deals with this – by not just levelling the playing field in terms of amount spent on education, but also by ensuring a much better social mix. To repeat, we won’t have the middle classes clumping round all the good schools, leaving working class ghettos.

5. Banning private schools won’t have any affect on the inequalities that exist within the 93% who currently are not private educated.

My response. First, even if this was true, it wouldn’t be a reason not to ban private schools. Just because a measure deals with only one layer of inequality, not all, is not a reason for not introducing it. Second, in any case, the variable voucher system will have a major affect on dealing with inequalities within the 93%. For the richest won’t now have an incentive to buy near middleclass schools.

6. Reducing the quality of education available to the top 7% does nothing to help the others.

My response. Yes it does. Half of all Oxbridge places currently go to those 7%. They also dominate the high earning, high status professions. On the assumption that native wit and talent is distributed fairly evenly across the social classes, this means that brighter, more talented children are losing out in terms of life chances because the parents of small minority paid for a superior education. By going private, you aren’t just helping your own child’s life chances, you are also damaging the life chances of other, more talented children.

7. Parents have a right to spend their money on a better education for their children, if they so wish.

My response. Not if they are thereby damaging the life chances of other, more talented children. Which they are. If Oxbridge adopted a private school model, there would be outrage. I don’t see why we should view private schools any differently.

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