One thing independent schools will never apologise for is excellence - a response to The Times

Posted on: 29 May 2016

Julie Robinson, General Secretary of ISC responds to Matthew Parris' opinion piece in The Times where he states 'sneering at posh boys' must continue.

It is a shame that Matthew Parris chooses to be contemptuous of good schools ("Why we must go on sneering at posh boys", 28 May).

There is no justification whatsoever in sneering at 'posh boys', nor for that matter the girls who make up almost half the population of our schools - we assume he views them similarly.

One thing independent schools will never apologise for is excellence. Thousands of teachers work with dedication to provide the very best start in life for the children in their charge. That so many pupils go on to achieve sporting and artistic success and hold important offices of state should be cause for celebration, not ridicule.

Mr Parris should know as well as anyone that the best way to achieve both excellence and equality isn't to abolish what works but to build upon success.

Year on year we have seen increasing access to independent schools. Fee assistance is now worth more than £850m, with a third of all pupils benefitting. Many pupils at independent schools pay no fees at all.

Teachers and pupils move between the sectors and mutually beneficial partnerships abound. Collaborative work between schools is exciting and varied - facilities, knowledge and expertise on all sides are shared enthusiastically.

Yes, there's more to be done but Mr Parris's words can only create more barriers and undermine progress.

Beyond his outright hostility toward the independent sector he shows a commitment to educational equality (we can certainly agree on that), but by pitting the two against each other and creating a false us-and-them situation he does not help matters.

Encouraging adults to sneer at children is not just deeply unpleasant but potentially even a dangerous call to arms.