Advanced search

Michael Wilshaw tells private schools to do more for the state sector

(494 Posts)
muminlondon Wed 02-Oct-13 23:57:32

He's not afraid of being disliked, is he? He gave a speech to the heads of private schools telling them to sponsor academies in deprived areas - only 3% do so.

My favourite quotes are:

'... think less globally and more locally, "less Dubai and more Derby"'

'What might you say to parents who think that noblesse oblige is the latest perfume from Chanel?'

'Your pensions, many of the public may be surprised to learn, are subsidised by the taxpayer. Most of your teaching staff were educated at public expense. The independent sector gains 1,400 teachers from state schools every year.'

MuswellHillDad Thu 03-Oct-13 08:51:27

I think he is right to tell private schools to do more, but I think the way to do that would be to increase the number of non-fee paying students on bursuries at those schools. His proposals do nothing to get the brightest from the council estate in the same classroom as the brightest from the £1m+ houses - the kind of social integration utopia that many Guardian readers want. The DoE should negotiate bulk rates for lower fees with all Independent schools (easy given the tax breaks they get as a charity). Since the DoE/Local Authority already an average of £5-10k per pupil it wouldn't cost much more to get those bright kids into any of these schools and do away with the perceived "elitism".

Whilst I still agree with his motives, I do think there is a temptation to blame the private system (c. 5% of schools) for the "failings" of the state system. The state system must improve to the point where wealthy parents will say - like Europeans do - why on earth would I pay when the state school is excellent? Hhe claims 80% of state schools are "good/outstanding", but that also means 1 in 5 are not.

He also forgets to mention the 20,000 selective faith schools and grammar schools. They attract many of the "better" teachers and have considerable resources (church funds and grammar school trusts) which could do much more than the 2,500 independent schools can. Why isn't he asking the same of them? I think the answer is that would upset too many parents and the churches. He's already picked a fight with the London Oratory, which I applaud him for, on their "exclusive" (therefore elitist) admission policy. Why isn't he asking the Oratory (and their massive financial resources) to do exactly the same?

PS - before you jump on my head and beat me with a Mumsnet virtual stick, my kids are both at state school.

DeWe Thu 03-Oct-13 09:54:33

Personally I don't see why private schools should help state. I agree with more burseries, as the way forward.

I mean you wouldn't say to all the private postal services that they've got to give resources to Royal mail, or tell Virgin they have to subsidise BT so people can get BT cheaper would you?

And before the cries of "but they've got to show they have charity status"-have you actually thought what removing the charity status would do?
Private schools would pass the extra cost onto parents, meaning that they really would become only the playgrounds for the rich. And there would also be many more people needing state places. Which there aren't available, so popular schools would be even more oversubscribed, more school places would need to be found, probably more schools, which would cost the tax payer more, so taxes would need to go up to fund it (or other services go down)...

My dc are all at state school too.

Ladymuck Thu 03-Oct-13 11:59:03

It is a shame that the discussions about education are all surrounded by thinly disguised threats:-

"I merely note that those schools that choose to remain aloof from their state counterparts only give ammunition to those who would like to put even stricter quotas on independent pupils' access to our top, publicly-funded universities. And I cannot believe that is a prospect that you or your parents and governors would find appealing."

I don't really know whether this is all note-worthy or not really. He has to give a speech at a conference. What is he going to say? Really he doesn't have much in the way of concrete examples, because actually there is very little evidence that partnership/interference from an independent sector school does do much good to a state school. He may quote the Eton partnership but I note he doesn't mention the identical Wellington partnership which seems to have gone disastrously (for the state school)?

Are there really a queue of comprehensive school head teachers who want a mid tier private school headmaster coming along to mentor them?

rabbitstew Thu 03-Oct-13 12:14:39

Eh? BT is not a state owned company. And education is not a purely commercial enterprise - I hope.

Not sure where MuswellHillDad gets the idea that grammar schools are all incredibly well funded, either. I went to a grammar school and was in classes of 40 children, with maths being the only subject set for. I have looked round a great many far better endowed comprehensive schools with smaller class sizes and a far wider range of subjects offered. I also question the idea they attract "better" teachers. I think they attract more academic teachers who enjoy teaching highly articulate children and who wouldn't necessarily enjoy or be good at teaching children who don't understand what they say the first time around. I think they provide a lousy education for children who don't "fit the mould." I think the problem with private schools "helping" state schools is likewise that they don't have to teach children who don't fit their particular "mould." It's not really much help to anyone to be told, "I wouldn't start here."

meditrina Thu 03-Oct-13 12:30:07

"DoE should negotiate bulk rates for lower fees with all Independent schools"

One of the earliest things that New Labour did was abolish the Assisted Places Scheme. And I don't think we can afford to reinstate it at the moment.

BTW, at the moment there is no provision in law to just "remove" charitable status. You have to wind up the charity in line with Charity Commission rules, and donate all the proceeds (sale of land, buildings and major assets) to a charity with similar aims. So it would mean the closure of the school (unless there is a buyer who can take it on as a going concern), and I don't think we can afford to increase the state sector to provide the required additional places after a wave closures.

MuswellHillDad Thu 03-Oct-13 12:33:05

Actually I think you are right about grammar schools and, on that, I stand corrected. I also agree that teacher attracted to bright kids might not be best suited to teach a variety of abilities - that's why I agree with academic selection (grammar or private) as good for both those teachers and those students.

To clarify, there are still 20,000 faith schools in the UK, even without the grammar schools and I hope we can agree that churches are very very well endowed!

MuswellHillDad Thu 03-Oct-13 12:40:11


Are you sure we (taxpayers) can't afford it? Each student costs money to teach whether they are at a state school or not - so instead of paying £5000-10000 to the local authority, central government would pay it to the school. Same money spend, same number of kids educated. (Hmmm, I think ... open to challenge).

Bramshott Thu 03-Oct-13 12:47:12

I agree with him (never thought I'd say that!). This is something that some private schools do very well - sharing facilities, after school & holiday clubs open to all, links with local schools, bursaries and scholarships - and some do very badly.

meditrina Thu 03-Oct-13 12:49:36

I am sure money can be found for priority policies.

But yes, it would mean substantial new spending. At present, all those educated in the private sector cost the taxpayer nothing. Paying some or all the fees for a proportion of them brings a substantial new bill.

mummytime Thu 03-Oct-13 12:57:39

MuswellHillDad I find it laughable that you think "most Churches are very well endowed"!

Most Churches are neither Catholic or C of E, and are not endowed at all. The C of E as a whole own a lot of listed buildings, and other historic buildings, they receive little help for the upkeep of these historic buildings. It also has argue pension bill, again with no state help.

For most Faith schools the 10% of Capital spending which is supposed to come from the Church, actually has to be self funded (via car boot sales etc.), as the Church does not have the money.

However you are in support of private schools. Historically these were founded to educate and support the poor, however they now use their endowments to educate the rich. The Charitable status they enjoy, needs to show that private schools in some way benefit the wider public.

Some seem to do this better than others. Eg. A local boys private school teaches my DD Latin, and offers local primaries a Tudor experience. This is more valuable than taster days which are more like a sales pitch. Help with Academies and Free Schools can also be valuable.

YippeeTeenager Thu 03-Oct-13 12:58:01

State schools and their poor standards are the state's problem, nothing at all to do with private schools! Why should parents paying school fees (because their local state school isn't up to scratch) have to pay even more so that the private school can afford to cover the cost of loaning teachers to state schools, lending out head-teacher time and other resources. It's an outrageous idea and Michael Wilshaw needs to get a grip! I'm all for more scholarships and bursaries but blaming private schools for the mess in state schools is just ridiculous angry

rabbitstew Thu 03-Oct-13 13:25:46

It seems to me that private schools are a symptom of the problem, not the cause of the problem. The larger the divide between the wealthiest and the poorest, and between the extremely wealthy and the vast majority, the more this shows up in the education system. The education system is merely a reflection of the society in which we live.

rabbitstew Thu 03-Oct-13 13:35:42

And we all know from history that the wealthy do not in great masses go out of their way to support the less well off majority - they only act when life has got so shitty that they are affected by the shit, too. Clearly we have not quite reached that point, yet.

motherinferior Thu 03-Oct-13 13:38:31

I really do not want bright kids siphoned off into posh schools as a way of pulling up those schools' results and thus luring in more fee-paying kids, which is another - perhaps cynical - way of looking at bursaries.

Ladymuck Thu 03-Oct-13 13:47:05

Bursaries don't seem to have been mentioned in the speech, but actually I disagree with the view that they bring in children from council estates. The majority of bursary applicants seem to be the middle class who have fallen on hard times or who are in middle income jobs (including teaching). The form filling and intrusive review of family finances is unlikely to happen in the average working class home I suspect. Certainly my parents would never have filled out such a form, and without the full scholarship available back in the day, there is no way I would have gone to a private. Similarly, despite being eligible for a full maintenance grant, it wasn't an option as my parents would not fill out the form.

MuswellHillDad Thu 03-Oct-13 13:55:08


CoE account for 68% of faith schools in England and RC some 30%. CoE has income of £1bn per year, including income from it's £4bn plus Church Commissioners fund. It spends £0.16bn on building maintenance. I won't even bother to tell you how crazily well off the Catholic churches are.

As for contributing 10% to running their own faith schools ... correct but isn't that the wrong way round? Shouldn't the taxpayer be paying 10% and the church paying 90% if they want to selectively intake based on religion at the taxpayers expense?

I didn't say I was in support of private schools. I asked why he directs his comments at 5% of schools rather than the 20% of faith schools.

For what it's worth I think we should either have an entirely comprehensive system (i.e. no private, grammar or faith schools) or we should allow choice. Generally, people prefer choice.

grovel Thu 03-Oct-13 14:02:47

I was discussing this with a friend who is a Chartered Accountant and specialises in charities/schools. He has got a lot of private schools as clients. There is a huge disparity in their finances. Yes, the "big name" schools have got endowments etc but many (most?) live a very "hand to mouth" existence and barely cover their costs with fee income. So, it's hard to generalise about what they should "give back".

MuswellHillDad Thu 03-Oct-13 14:05:38

My parents council flat neighbours just did exactly that. Their bright son got a fully funded place at one of the big public schools. I can't make generalisations but I do see it happening around me.

I like the work of the Sutton Trust on this and a recent article in the FT echoes that.

rabbitstew Thu 03-Oct-13 14:19:30

Generally, people have unrealistic expectations. Choice is pretty wasteful and taxpayers don't like waste.

MuswellHillDad Thu 03-Oct-13 14:58:39

Agreed. However, people like choice and are more likely to support it and vote for it. I'm not expecting a change to the utopian comprehensive system under the conservatives, labour or any coalition. Does anyone think that might ever happen?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 03-Oct-13 15:02:07

Yuck, frankly. No, you patronizing arse, I don't think noblesse oblige is a perfume: I think it's a fairly contemptible and patronizing idea, in this particular context.

Keep your noblesse and shove it up your arse, Wilshaw. And the interpretation of oblige as simply meaning, as many seem to think, we'll take one or two really bright kids out of the state sector and have them too, is highly unconvincing. We don't mind poor people - honest! Well, the clever ones, anyway. Assisted places suck.

He's on a hiding to nothing though... parents who are that bothered about any one else are not going to be using private schools, and aren't going to swallow this.

grovel Thu 03-Oct-13 16:00:28

Nit, where do you stand on state schools using private school facilities?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 03-Oct-13 16:58:11

Hmm. Torn. I kind of wish they wouldn't, but I also think, make the buggers work for it if they're going to pretend to be a charity!

muminlondon Thu 03-Oct-13 19:09:53

'I really do not want bright kids siphoned off into posh schools as a way of pulling up those schools' results'

Agree with this - better that they populate the top sets of state schools and ensure there is more balance and a higher level of aspiration for the others in the school. Then the schools can attract shortage teachers and become more popular with parents, and the deficits (£5,000 per unfilled place) that create a vicious circle of resource shortages can be closed. A bit like Mossbourne Academy, Wilshaw's old school, which gets better grades for its top set than most of the grammars in Kent.

But I'm also not sure if sponsoring academies has been successful (not just the Wellington Academy questionable HR approach but the Kent academy sponsored by Dulwich College which 'does not have the capacity to drive improvements at the rate required'.

Loaning teachers and/or coaching sixth form students is well within their capabilities and any aspiration of charitable community-mindedness, however.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: