Terence Blacker: A swim in a private school's pool won't upset our educational apartheid

 

Share

It has been a positive week for British education – or at least for the 7 per cent of British education which now seems to speak for the rest. The Charity Commission, following a legal challenge by the Independent Schools Council, loosened the criteria by which private schools earn their status as charities, with all the tax breaks which that entails.

It is important, say the new guidelines, that charities/fee-paying schools should offer "public benefit". They can do that by letting local communities use their playing fields or swimming pools now and then, or granting bursaries to non-paying pupils, maybe staging joint sports days.

Private education is, in 2012, improving and is more embedded than ever in the heart of the British establishment; public education, meanwhile, is starved of funds and struggling. And here, we are now told, is how that inequality should be addressed: schools for the privileged should share their swimming pools, and generally make, in the aptly Victorian phrase used by the Charity Commission, "provision for the poor".

One would think that there would be a general sense of outrage, or at least of embarrassment, about this institutionalised inequality and waste of talent. In fact, it is those who oppose Britain's system of educational apartheid who are out in the political cold.

The Labour Party, extraordinarily, views private education as a tricky area, best avoided. "My motivation is with the 93 per cent who go to state schools" were the weaselly words used by Douglas Alexander on Andrew Neil's The Daily Politics this week. Yet the effect of in-built educational inequality can be seen in every item of home news. It is behind the lack of political will to make radical change, behind the disenchantment of teachers who work in the state sector, behind the lack of aspiration of many children, behind the defeatism of those entering the jobs market, the cynicism of voters, the underperformance of the economy, our lack of national self-confidence.

Michael Gove is a conviction politician who must know in his heart that, if the scandal of "independent" education is not addressed, his other plans are little more than fiddling around on the margins. It is time for him to be brave. Removing the absurdity of private schools having charitable status, the privileged being given more privilege, would be a useful start.

terblacker@aol.com

React Now

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

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Sales Manager

£60k - 80k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Our political system is fragmented, with disillusioned voters looking to the margins for satisfaction  

Politics of hope needed to avert flight to margins

Liam Fox
David Cameron delivers his speech on immigration at the JCB World Headquarters in Rocester, Staffordshire  

Cameron's speech was an attempt to kill immigration as an election issue

Andrew Grice
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game