Private Schools in England in Demand, but Under Scrutiny

The international demand for many of England’s private schools is soaring with the most in-demand schools are in London and southeast England. Native parents are facing a major problem; however as international students are now in contention for places in England’s top private schools, according to an article by Graeme Paton in The Daily Telegraph.

Private schools in England are mainly for elite and wealthy families. Private schools such as the Halycon School charge some £19,000 ($2`,000) per year. Even with this high price tag, the school still has 45 international students from 19 different countries. Rita Halbright, the co-founder of the Halcyon School, is optimistic about the rate of international student growth.

“’There’s lots of people coming from the continent – Italy, Spain and France – because of the economic situation over there,’ she said. ‘We have 45 pupils at the moment and would like that to grow to 200 in the next three or four years. If we stick to just our current growth rate, that will happen.’”

According the Joe Murphy’s report in The London Daily Standard, however, not everyone is so impressed with England’s private schools. Michael Gove, the Education Secretary of England, will be sending his daughter, Beatrice, to a state secondary school instead of a traditional private one. He is the first education secretary in history to do so. Sarah Vine, his wife and a journalist, supports her husband’s decision. She claims that private school students “can barely open a tin of beans” and do not do well at universities because they are not used to diversity and other cultures like state school students are. She suggests that the private school sector is based on snobbery and the ability to pay.

“’The private sector is built on very different principles,’ she wrote in her Daily Mail column. ‘Its agenda is a fundamentally selective one, based not only on ability to pay, but also on pupil potential. And it is also, let’s face it, about snobbery. Of course the parents of private school children are paying for the best teachers and facilities.’”

The head of the Association of School and College Leaders, Brian Lightman, supports the secretary of state’s choice in schools for their daughter, writes Murphy. He sees it as another sign that the state public schools are in good educational standing.

The differing opinions on England’s private school have brought about a debate about whether they are more about prestige or snobbery. Some parents want their children to “mix with the right kids” while others prefer the more socially and culturally diverse option of the state schools.