‘Massively’ improved state schools threaten private sector

The Guardian is reporting that the founder of the Good Schools Guide has suggested state schools have improved “massively” and are threatening to drive weaker private schools out of business.

Ralph Lucas, editor-in-chief of the guide regarded as the bible for middle-class school choice, said that as results and behaviour improved even those families who could afford private school fees were increasingly choosing the state sector.

“We are getting parents approaching us saying: ‘We want to know more, we’re really taking state schools seriously, don’t just tell us about independent schools,’” Lord Lucas said, adding that the number of private schools was likely to shrink as a result.

“You are seeing a pattern in the country as a whole – outside London – of independent schools becoming free schools or academies, or closing, and I think that will continue.”

…Lucas – an Eton-educated hereditary peer – based his remarks on responses from parents who find schools through the guide’s service. While the first edition of the Good Schools Guide in 1986 listed just 10 state schools – 4% of the total – the 2016 edition features more than 300, a quarter of the 1,200 named…

Lucas named Tom Sherrington, the headteacher of Highbury Grove secondary school in Islington, as an example of the new model head in the state sector who expected high standards of discipline in their schools and had high ambitions for their pupils.

A source close to the education secretary, Nicky Morgan, said: “These comments are a ringing endorsement of our efforts to raise standards, restore rigour and tackle the soft bigotry of low expectations…

Lucas said… “If I had my time again, I’m sure my children would go through the state system in London…”

More at: ‘Massively’ improved state schools threaten private sector


I think the issue for private schools is that they are clearly separating into two groups – those with global brand recognition who will thrive on demand from wealthy overseas parents and the rest who will have to fight tooth and nail to keep going (or perhaps become taken over as annexes of the big brands).

Do you accept the comments Lord Lucas makes about state schools though? Have they become so much better that they are i themselves a threat to the independent sector?

Please give us your thoughts and reactions in the comments or via Twitter…


Are improving state schools now a genuine threat to the independent sector?

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Categories: Private Schools.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove “Weaker” private schools should be run out of business but the state improvement will halt due to £ issues and exam reform

  2. Mktadvice4schls

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove totally agree. Priv schools also responding and focusing on pastoral care which state schls cutting back on.

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Every govt reform recently will lead to this trend reversing & the fact many schools now struggle to find staff won’t help

  4. andylutwyche

    Mktadvice4schls SchoolsImprove Absolutely – not sure ministers realise the strides many private schools are making in pastoral area

  5. irvingphil

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove recent noise suggests competitive private school reforms: bigger classes; fewer teachers. Round&round we go…

  6. Ralph Lucas says he would consider state schools in London.  These have improved over the last fifteen years because of a combination of London Challenge and a large number of hard-working and aspirational children of immigrants.
    Yet Morgan says it endorses reforms begun in 2010!  And she doesn’t realise that private schools are already saying they can keep classes small etc as state schools face budget constraints.

  7. wasateacher

    It has always been the case that the reputation of private schools has been based on the top public schools, whilst the reputation of state schools has often been linked to the worst. Smaller, weaker private schools have hidden poor results by entering for IGCSE or nothing – so they have never been as publicly accountable as state schools.

    I did, a few years ago, try to find out the results of several private schools.  Some did reply but many did not.  This was triggered by a private school near me which should never have been allowed to have anything to do with children and had mostly overseas children on the back of the reputation of British private schools.

Let us know what you think...