Letter: Benefits of boarding school for parents and children

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The Independent Online
Sir: The conclusions in your leading article ('Writing on the wall for boarding schools', 27 April) fly in the face of recent evidence. You say that few parents have any instinctive enthusiasm for private education. A Mori survey last year concluded that 49 per cent would send their children to an independent school, if they could afford to. Only 35 per cent said they would not.

You say that better schools make it less necessary for parents to pay for education, but another Mori survey of parents choosing independent schools found that the proportion doing so because they were dissatisfied with state schools had gone up since 1989.

You say that for London families, the 'brutal adolescent rituals of boarding school have become an anachronism as well as an extravagance'. They are also history. A survey of boarders themselves last year found that three-quarters of them preferred boarding.

You say that bursars may wonder whether their building programmes during the Eighties were ill-judged. Most state school heads, struggling to meet the demands of the national curriculum, to provide adequate sporting activities, even to stop leaks in roofs, would be unlikely to agree.

And finally, you draw attention to a 'huge increase' to 27 per cent in the number of pupils receiving help with fees, as though this had occurred overnight. In fact the number of pupils helped in this way has climbed steadily over the past decade as schools strive to make what they offer available to a wider social catchment area.

To ignore one such piece of evidence might be healthy scepticism. To ignore them all is prejudice.

Yours faithfully,

RICHARD DAVISON

Deputy Director

Independent Schools

Information Service

London, SW1

(Photograph omitted)

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