Private schools chief quits after attacks on state sector

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The Independent Online

The head of the organisation that represents independent schools has quit – after just six weeks in office.

Chris Parry mounted a string of highly controversial attacks on the state sector during his short time as chief executive of the Independent Schools Council. He managed not only to upset teachers' leaders and stun MPs but also annoy several of the independent school heads he served.

He was said to have quit yesterday by "mutual consent" although one leading independent school head said that his, "lack of understanding of the needs and workings of the independent sector was frankly astonishing". Richard Cairns, headmaster of Brighton College, added: "We are an integral part of the education sector and desire cooperation with the state sector not conflict."

Mr Parry first courted controversy by telling MPs on the Commons Select Committee for Children, Schools and Families that there was a "sectarian divide" between state and private schools. He also said that he found it "very offensive" that he could not find provision in the state sector for his children, describing the schools in his area as "very poor".

He also claimed that lecturers were "bullying" trainee teachers not to apply for jobs in private schools.

Later in a newspaper interview he said that some children in state schools were unteachable and their parents were ignorant.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families described his remarks as "insulting" and painting "a deeply misguided picture".

There was added concern over Mr Parry's comments because they were made at a time when the independent sector is trying to improve relations with ministers after legislation compelling them to justify their charitable status.