Stop ‘indulging in toffism’, says private school head

The TES is reporting calls from the chairman of the HMC for critics of private schools to stop “indulging in toffism” and accept the “positive contribution” the independent sector can make to education.

Chris King, head of independent school Leicester Grammar, will use his speech to the annual gathering of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) to attack those who blame private schools for the problems faced by the state sector.

Mr King, the new chairman of the elite grouping of 275 private schools, will say: “It is clearly absurd to blame the sector which educates seven per cent of the school population for the ills of the educational experience of the other 93 per cent. 

“This seems to me to be a distraction tactic, steering the debate away from serious and long-term issues such as funding crises and teacher shortages.

“I say to our critics: stop the politically charged, sterile rhetoric which gets us nowhere. Stop indulging in toffism and out-of-date preconceptions about the nature of our schools.

“Above all, stop believing that you can make the weak stronger by making the strong weaker. Instead of carping, accept we want to make a positive contribution.”

He said he was “eager to engage” with decision-makers in the education world…

Mr King will say that private schools play an important role through partnering with state schools, offering subsidised fees and improving the exam system. They lead the way on issues such as navigating the transition from school to university, sport and young people’s mental health, he will say…

More at: Stop ‘indulging in toffism’, says private school head


Is Chris King right to suggest some (and the full article points a finger in the direction of Sir Michael Wilshaw) have been too quick to blame private schools for problems faced in the state sector?

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


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Dear Ms Morgan, your thinking is from the stone age
Categories: Private Schools.


  1. The more private schools in a school system and the more pupils are segregated by selection, the greater is the influence of socio-economic background.  That was the conclusion of research into the role of education policies in socio-economic inequalities in pupils’ achievement.
    It’s not ‘toffism’ to point this out.  It’s not ‘toffism’ to say throwing a few bursaries at the brightest children whose parents can’t afford full fees is not a positive contribution to the education of all our children.   It’s not ‘toffism’ to remind private schools the OECD found UK state schools outperformed UK private ones in reading when socio-economic background was taken into account.  In other words, UK state schools were doing a good job under more challenging circumstances than are experienced by this supposed ‘elite’ group.

  2. MrsTattersall8

    SchoolsImprove The only way around prejudice is to visit the schools you do not understand. It works both ways.

  3. MrsTattersall8

    SchoolsImprove The only way around prejudice is to visit the schools you do not understand. It works both ways.

  4. extokyotyke

    SchoolsImprove Out of date preconceptions? Has he looked at the educational background of the government & MPs etc?

Let us know what you think...