At the recently held conference of the UK Labour Party, delegates voted to abolish private (I.E. fee-paying schools), https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/sep/22/labour-delegates-vote-in-favour-of-abolishing-private-schools.
The above decision strikes me as iliberal and an attack on the freedom of the individual to spend their own money as they see fit.
The philosophical underpinning of the decision is the belief in equality. Why (proponents of a ban on private schools argue) should a tiny minority (a privileged one to boot) be able to avail themselves of private education when the vast majority of the population do not possess the resources to do so. They further argue that many leading positions in society (for example the judiciary) is packed full of individuals who enjoyed the advantages of private schooling, whilst only a small proportion of top judicial appointments are held by those who attended state (non-fee paying) institutions. Private education does, they contend assist in perpetuating and widening the “class divide” in the UK.
If one accepts the logic of the position outlined above, why stop at the abolition of private schools? Should not parents who possess the resources to buy a home in an area with good state (I.E. non-fee paying schools) be prevented from doing so, and if not, why not, for it is surely unfair that some people can aford to move to areas with good schools whilst others can not? And what about parents who (whilst they do not send their children to private school) do pay for private tuition in music, maths, literature etc? Such tuition may well give the ofspring of such parents an advantage. Is not such an advantage unfair and as such should a prohibition not be placed on parents paying for private tuition? If the answer given to the last question by those delegates who voted for the ban on private schools is “no”, on what logic do they base their opposition to private schools, whilst accepting the right of parents to pay for private tuition often (but not always) in their own homes?
I myself do tutor a friend’s son most Saturdays in poetry. Whilst no money is paid (I wouldn’t accept it even where it to be offered) it is, nonetheless private tuition. If I can provide tuition to a friend’s son free of charge why then should not those (if any exist) wishing to pay me for the provision of said tuition be entitled to do so?
I was incredibly lucky and grew up in a house full of books. From a young age I experienced the delight of being read to by my grandfather and other family members. If we follow the extreme Socialist logic to it’s logical conclusion should we not take away some of the books from those households lucky enough to possess them and redistribute them to families with no (or few) books? And if not, why not?
Life is, in the final analysis unfair. Whilst its surely right that proper funding is provided to the state education sector (which is not always the case), that is not an argument in favour of abolishing the right of those who can aford to pay for private education to do so.
Variety is the spice of life and both private and state sectors can learn from one another, with the best aspects of both systems being incorporated (on a voluntary basis) by both institutions. Its also surely right that private schools who enjoy charitable status should prove their commitment to the local community by, for example opening up their facilities (such as swimming pools and playing fields) to local state schools.
I myself was lucky enough to attend a school part funded by the Catholic Blind Institute and part funded by the state. The largest class I remember consisted of perhaps 10-12 children, with other classes being smaller. The ethos of that school (which catered for both boarders and day pupils) was excellent and yes, I do feel privileged to have attended it.
As always I would be interested in the views of my readers.