Why we went private

James Fox, actor

We've sent our children to private schools. It's not ideal.

I think the future lies in a properly funded state sector. It's largely a question of standards, but you also feel there's the question of which school offers the more homogenous lifestyle. In the longer term, hopefully we'll have a better society and a more homogenous mix in schools.

Tom Conti, actor

My daughter went to the only co-ed private school we could find, the King Alfred School in north London. It was very liberal and seems to have worked: she's doing a philosophy degree now.

School should be a sanctuary, trying to learn when teachers are underpaid and exhausted is awful. Only small classes are going to save the country.

Rabbi Julia Neuberger, chair, Camden and Islington Community Health Services NHS Trust

We chose strong academic traditions, and single-sex schools for the girls. Harriet (15) is at James Allen's Girls' School in south London where I am a governor.

We looked at two local state schools. One was a Church of England school that didn't want to take us because they were overburdened with C of E children.

John Walsh, literary editor, the Independent

Sophie, who is 7, is at Alleyn's junior school in south London. The reason is simple. I live in Camberwell where the local schools are punishingly grotty. At Alleyn's they are good at hurling a variety of information at you from English to macram.

If I can afford it my son willprobably go to Dulwich College. If not, I'll move into a borough where the state schools are good.

John Scott, organist

Emma (10) is at City of London School for Girls. Alexander (7) is a day boy at St Paul's Cathedral Choir School.

Our son was previously in a state C of E primary school which we were extremely happy with. But education can be a problem in London. We've heard from other people who haven't had a good experience with the state sector. We chose schools purely on the quality.

Alex Carlile, Lib Dem MP

My daughter Ruth, who is 14, goes to Queen's College, Harley Street. All my children went to excellent local village primary schools in Wales. When we decided they should go to school in London, because of the strains that being an MP places on family life we decided to send them to private schools that would suit them. We went over the wall with a heavy heart.

Jon Snow, television journalist, presenter Channel 4 News

We chose a state school for one daughter and have very reluctantly gone private with the other. We were apprehensive about the future of her state primary where in the space of a few weeks we lost eight teachers.

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