Some claim that the UK is a country run and dominated by a privately educated minority. For many, private schools have long been regarded as ‘sites of inherited privilege which stifle social mobility’. Bearing this in mind, they are calling for bans on private schools in order to reduce social inequalities. For example, the Labour pressure group, Labour Against Private Schools, has announced its intention to include the clause of abolishing private education as part of its next manifesto.
However, some academics are considering the other side of the coin, and have recently suggested that banning private schools could subsequently lead to the unintended consequence of actually increasing inequality, more specifically, of increasing inequalities between state schools. They suggest that by bringing private school pupils into the state system, existing state pupils might be moved to less advantaged state schools. As most privately educated children are likely to live within the catchment areas of the most affluent state schools, these schools will be disproportionately advantaged in terms of both knowledge and finance, as compared to the most disadvantaged state schools of the country.
Further, most of the pupils who achieve high grades and receive university places through private schools are likely to achieve similarly through the top-end schools of the state system. Integrating private schools into the state sector might therefore not improve social equality and could end up worsening inequalities between state schools. Indeed, a number of state schools are already currently seeking measures to exclude pupils from poorer homes, with the intention of recruiting pupils from wealthy backgrounds.
Students applying for Politics, along with those planning to apply for Politics, Philosophy and Economics, should reflect on heated topics of debate such as this, considering the varying perspectives including viewpoints which may previously have not been developed as much as others, and contemplate how things may not be as clear-cut as seemingly thought.
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