New independent schools chief is a 'snob', say unions

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An independent schools leader who launched an outspoken attack on state education was yesterday denounced as "snobbish" and "misguided" by ministers and teaching unions.

Chris Parry, the new chief executive of the Independent Schools Council (ISC), whose organisation represents half of the 2,600 private schools in the UK, warned state schools were struggling with unteachable children, ignorant parents and staff who did not want to be there.

He said comprehensive school pupils could not be expected to get into top universities if they were bullied by classmates from "disadvantaged backgrounds".

Speaking of the state sector, he said: "There are too many leaders but not enough leadership, there are a lot of managers but not enough management. There aren't enough teachers and aren't enough teachers in the subjects we need. It's lacking human, material [and] financial resources."

Mr Parry's comments were dismissed as "a deeply misguided picture" by a spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families. "It is frankly insulting to the hard-working and talented teachers and pupils in the state sector," the spokesman added.

John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers, said: "It's that kind of ill-informed, snobbish idea of state schools which opens up the divide between the sectors."

Mr Parry, a former rear admiral, will tell the annual conference of the ISC next week that private schools need to be more up to date, that teachers will be increasingly replaced by computers and predicts that pupils will learn via Wikipedia-type programmes in class.