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

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: With 100 days still to go how will Cameron, Miliband and Co. keep us all engaged?

Andrew Grice
A solar energy farm in France  

Nature Studies: For all the attractions of solar power, it shouldn’t blight the countryside

Michael McCarthy
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea