Nick Clegg has given his strongest hint yet that he and his wife, Miriam, plan to send their oldest son, Antonio, to a private school.
The Deputy Prime Minister told the BBC: “I totally accept that when we make a decision, that will be the subject of public commentary and criticism and so on, but I hope in the meantime we want to protect the privacy of an 11-year-old boy and make a decision that we think as parents is best for our son.”
Speaking on LBC last week, Mr Clegg left open the possibility that they might yet find a place in a state secondary school for Antonio, “if it works out”, but remarked that there was “huge competition” for places in London’s secondary schools.
Today, the head teacher of Ark Putney Academy, the secondary school closest to the Cleggs’ London home, told The Observer that Mr Clegg had never visited the school. In his comments on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show today, Mr Clegg appeared to anticipate the criticism he can expect if he and his wife reject the state system, which educates about 93 per cent of the country’s secondary school pupils.
Michael Pyke, from the Campaign for State Education, said: “It’s not our job to lecture parents on how to educate their children, but the Clegg family have access to every possible educational resource. They don’t need to spend £20,000 a year on school fees.
“If their son went to a state school, he would learn a great deal more about dealing with ordinary people and it would benefit the school. It’s a huge pity.”
Delivering a speech on social mobility last May, Mr Clegg warned: “Right now there is a great rift in our education system between our best schools, most of which are private, and the schools ordinary families rely on. That is corrosive for our society and damaging to our economy.”
David Cameron’s older children go to state primary schools.