It would take something extraordinary for Simon Cowell to send his child to a state school - but extraordinary is exactly what we need

Education shouldn’t depend on the size of parental pockets

Share

Do any rich people in Britain send their children to state schools? I’m not sure how we define rich these days, but however we do I suspect the answer is: not many – if any.

Michael Gove has challenged impending father Simon Cowell to eschew private education. “If Simon wants me to show him round a couple or even hundreds of fantastic state primary schools, it would be a pleasure,” he declared in a bit of grandstanding on LBC.

As Gove is doubtless well aware, the call from Cowell may be a long time coming. The music mogul’s partner, Lauren Silverman, is American and may want to raise the child over there. But even if they were to base themselves in Britain I’d have thought it highly unlikely that a Cowell sprog would find itself mucking in with the plebs.

I don’t think this is a sign of the times. Rich kids have always gone to private schools. Gove is right when he says there are lots of great state schools in Britain, at both primary and secondary level. And there are some poor ones – but then anecdotal evidence suggests there are mediocre private schools as well. And that, too, has always been the case.

But all of this is beside the point: in any society that wants to think of itself as decent and civilised, that values social mobility and equality of opportunity, education shouldn’t depend on the size of parental pockets – especially if, like Rachel Ragg, writing in today’s Daily Mail, you spend a fortune educating your daughter privately only in order to increase her chances of snagging a rich bloke and becoming a well-heeled stay-at-home mum.

Cowell, who went to a private school himself, crossed Gove last year when he said in a radio interview in the US that the secret to success in life is “to be useless in school and then get lucky.” Gove was outraged – though I suspect that Cowell, while making the point that it is possible to get on in life without passing exams, was being light-hearted.

Failure to see the joke is standard for politicians, but I have some sympathy for Gove. He keeps banging the “higher-standards” drum, and last week he was brave enough to address the state/private divide that blights our education system.

But talking about a promised land in which there’s absolutely no difference between any given state school and any given private school is one thing. Reaching that promised land is another matter entirely. If the best option, the decent, utilitarian option – to abolish private education – isn’t going to happen (which it isn’t), then Gove and the government need to spend huge amounts of money to make all our state schools – and it must be all – the match of the privates.

Read more:
STATE SCHOOLS ARE JUST AS GOOD AS PRIVATE SCHOOLS, MR GOVE. HERE'S THE PROOF
ARCHIE BLAND: PRIVATE SCHOOLS ARE DOING LAUGHABLY LITTLE TO JUSTIFY THEIR CHARITABLE STATUS
JOHN RENTOULJOHN MAJOR SLAMS PRIVATE SCHOOL PRIVILEGE - BUT WHAT DID HE DO TO CHANGE THE SYSTEM WHILE HE WAS PM?

 

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Hang on – that’s not how it’s supposed to be written

Guy Keleny
Rafael Nadal is down and out, beaten by Dustin Brown at Wimbledon – but an era is not thereby ended  

Sad as it is, Rafael Nadal's decline does not mark the end of tennis's golden era

Tom Peck
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test