Seldon on Private Schools

by Harry on January 15, 2008

The remarkable Anthony Seldon has an article in today’s Independent about the place of private schools in Britain’s education system. As Head of Wellington College and perhaps Britain’s most prominent private school headmaster, its no surprise to see him defending these bastions of privilege thus the following might surprise people who don’t know him:

the only vision the independent sector has today remains entrenched in the 20th century – dedicated to excellence and carrying on as we are in splendid isolation, detached from the mainstream national education system, thereby perpetuating the apartheid which has so dogged education and national life in Britain since the Second World War.

It is not right for any longer for our schools to cream off the best pupils, the best teachers, the best facilities, the best results and the best university places. If you throw in the 166 remaining grammar schools, which are predominantly middle class and private schools in all but name, the stranglehold is almost total.

Independent schools defend themselves by pointing to the numbers of bursaries they offer to those of lesser means, and many children from non-privileged backgrounds are indeed given a leg-up. But they also pluck children out of their social milieu as well as taking them away from their state schools, depriving those schools of their best academics, musicians, sportsmen and women and future stars.

Its my dad’s birthday today — Seldon’s present is better than mine. Read the whole thing.

Update: Report on the new Charity Commission guidelines here.

Six degrees of Louis Farrakhan

by Henry Farrell on January 15, 2008

I started to write a snarky post about this “Richard Cohen”: article and then gave up. It’s too bad a piece to warrant flipness. Cohen finds out (he doesn’t say how, but this has been circulating around the “nastier right wing websites”: for a little while) that a magazine associated with Barack Obama’s church in Chicago, and run by his pastor, honoured Louis Farrakhan last year. He then insists that Barack Obama immediately express his outrage. [click to continue…]