State schools have been allowed to descend into “mediocrity” because of the entrenched attitudes of the educational establishment, a leading private school headmaster warns. This is from the Telegraph…
Christopher Ray, vice-chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference of leading independent schools, says too many state school teachers “do not fully understand the word ‘aspiration’” and fail to prioritise rigorous subjects.
Writing in the Telegraph today, he also launches a staunch defence of fee-paying schools, insisting they have been the victim of “persistent misrepresentation” from politicians and teaching unions.
Too many independent schools are dismissed as bastions of a wealthy elite despite the fact that the majority of parents are on incomes of less than £60,000, he claims.
The comments come as headmasters across the UK prepare to gather in London on Monday for the annual meeting of HMC, which represents 250 major schools including Eton, Harrow, Winchester, Westminster and Charterhouse.
His article points to deepening tensions between the state and independent sectors despite attempts by successive governments to convince private school heads to sponsor and run taxpayer-funded academies.
Earlier this year, Lord Adonis, the former Labour cabinet minister, said all independent schools should get involved with the academies programme because the fee-paying sector was becoming “entirely divorced” from the rest of society.
But Dr Ray, former High Master of Manchester Grammar School, who recently took over as head of The British School, Abu Dhabi, claims that the views seek to divert attention from the true failings of the state education system.
“The reasons for the imbalance between the sectors will not be found in the excellence of the independent sector, but in the blinkered, entrenched and dogmatic attitudes that have allowed mediocrity to rule state education,” he says.
In an outspoken attack, he criticises the failure to reintroduce academic selection into the state system following the widespread closure of state grammar schools in the 60s and 70s.
Dr Ray highlights the “modern-day addiction to target-setting” which has seen state schools focus on boosting the number of students with average C grades to climb league tables.
“The impact on state schools has been massive: it often means that the needs of both the most and the least able are neglected,” he says…
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