Wellington College headmaster: independent school fees must not ‘spiral out of control’

The TES is reporting that the new head of Wellington College has warned that independent schools must not allow their fees to “spiral out of control”, because rising fees are pricing middle-class families out of private education.

Julian Thomas, who will take the helm at the £35,775-a-year Berkshire public school next week, is the second high-profile independent school headteacher to warn about the growing cost of a private education in recent months.

He told TES that his own independent schooling would not have been possible if fees been as high during his childhood as they are today.

“My own background is [that] I went to a state primary and to an independent school afterwards,” he said.

“I was able to do that through my parents doing whatever they needed to do [to afford the fees],” he said. “My dad was a printer, so he was not a high earner, but they were able to get the funds together to send me to an independent school.

“That was possible in those days [but] it wouldn’t be possible now. So I think we have a duty as a sector not to allow fees to spiral out of control,” he said…

Mr Thomas said he was not planning to cut fees at Wellington College in the short term. However, speaking in his first interview since being appointed to the role, Mr Thomas said he wanted the school to become “needs-blind” so that wealth did not determine students’ ability to attend. But he added that this was a “decades-long aspiration”…

For the full interview, see the 4 September edition of TES

More at: Wellington College headmaster: independent school fees must not ‘spiral out of control’


See also: ‘Obsession with league tables breeding double standards,’ says new headmaster at Wellington College


Several leading voices in the independent sector are making similar calls, but with fees here already at £35k a year when the average UK salary before tax is under £30k then perhaps the tipping point has already been reached?

What do you think? What role do you think the independent sector will have in this country moving forwards? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


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  1. UK state schools outperform UK private schools when socio-economic background is factored in (OECD 2010).   Even the Tatler admits state education can be a good (and significantly cheaper) alternative to private education (and the money saved could pay for daughter’s wedding or son’s first car, the Tatler tinkled).
    It’s not necessary to go to an independent school in order to flourish.  There’s even an advantage to be gained from being educated outside the private school bubble.

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