In November 2014, Tristram Hunt wrote about the ‘damaging division’ between state and private education. You can access the article here, in which he made the pledge that a Labour government would end business rates relief for private schools not working in the common interest. Now that Hunt has been replaced by Lucy Powell as Shadow Education Secretary, my hope is that she will continue to campaign, albeit more forcefully, for the private sector to fulfil what I believe is a social responsibility to provide greater opportunities for more of our poorest and most vulnerable students.
There’s been much debate recently about the relative performance of state and private schools. It’s clearly a debate worth having, and one that I feel needs to be given greater prominence. Why is it, for example, as the Sutton Trust reveals, that an independent day school student is 22 times more likely to attend a Russell Group university than a state school student from a disadvantaged background? And, of course, this debate should go beyond the field of academia. For example, why is it the case that some professional sports teams are so heavily and disproportionately represented by students who attended fee paying schools? Only by asking challenging questions, and engaging in meaningful and informed debate, can we all begin to take the action necessary to make the current system we work within fairer. It seems to me that, in this current political climate, now’s the perfect time to ask.
Written for Labour Teachers’ Mini-Blogs Week, published on their website here.