5th July 2018
Daily summary of the latest news and opinions from the world of independent education brought to you by Education Advisers...
Independent schools, once widely accessible, have become the preserve of the wealthy, says head of Wellington College.
Julian Thomas, master of Wellington College and chief executive of the Wellington Group of Academies and Schools looks at the issue.
“Detractors of independent schools claim that we have lost our way; that we have turned our back on our traditional pupil base; that we have become the preserve of the wealthy. They are not far wrong. Soaring fees have priced many out of the market – that, we can’t deny. We are all culpable, to an extent – that much we must accept. However, the notion that it is too late, that the situation is irreparable, is something I cannot accept.
It is simply a matter of priorities.
At Wellington, our aim is to raise funds to provide significant fee remission for 25 per cent of students by 2028, and then to double this to 50 per cent by 2038. This is not just about justifying our charitable status. It is about reminding ourselves why we were granted charitable status in the first place. Widening opportunity and access is part of our DNA.
Wellington College was established in 1859 to educate the sons of soldiers killed in action at minimal cost. While the need for this has, thankfully, diminished over the years, the college has remained committed to the cause, ensuring that children of talent and promise are given access to an independent education.”
Schools in Vietnam and Poland are the ones to emulate, according to education experts.
Sweden inspired the free school programme, Michael Gove’s flagship policy when he was education secretary, and the schools minister Nick Gibb has imported the Shanghai maths mastery method to primary schools. Singapore is top globally in reading, maths and science.
However, a detailed report on the successes of the Vietnamese education system is being published by the Education Development Trust this week and the chairman of the Commons education committee has visited Poland to find out why its schools do so well.
Vietnam came eighth globally in science in the most recent Pisa results, the international comparisons of pupils aged 15 from more than 70 countries, while the UK was 15th. Poland was 13th in reading, nine places ahead of the UK.
Parents are helping to drive up standards in both countries. Schools are highly scrutinised, monitored and regulated in both countries, whereas in the UK heads of free schools and academies have unprecedented freedoms.
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