We don’t need a ‘battle’ between state and private schools

Nottingham Post, 22.02.16, Kevin Fear, headmaster of Nottingham High School, says talk of a 'battle' between state and independent schools is wrong.

The Times recently ran a front page article suggesting that independent schools are in crisis. This came as a huge surprise to me as head of Nottingham High School as we have just had record numbers sit our entry exams for next September.

Many more families are expressing interest in independent education as the austerity cuts hit state education and class sizes grow. In fact, numbers of pupils at independent schools have never been higher and overall our exam results remain unparalleled. Nationally, nearly a third of pupils received A or A*s at GCSE in 2015 compared with just 7% in state schools, and half of A Level entries were awarded A or A*.

Lord Lucas, the owner of the Good Schools Guide, is correct in saying that the best state schools are improving, but that improvement is not across the board. Many parents are not able to find a state school of the standard they want for their child, and independent schools offer consistent excellence in teaching, co-curricular activities and preparation for university. Notably, 99.7% of them also work in partnership with state schools to increase opportunities for all pupils.

I have to say though that I find this constant sniping suggesting that there is a 'battle' between state and independent schools very distasteful. We work with many schools across the city in a spirit of collaboration which our own pupils and those in city schools benefit from greatly.

We open many of our sporting events and facilities to students across the city. We have a programme whereby one of our coaches provides cricket training in city primary schools. We support all of the local city championships in many sports and help run some of these. We invite primary-aged children into our school for a wide variety of educational experiences.

I welcome the improvements that we are seeing in education across the city. Yes, this increases our competition but that is no bad thing as it removes complacency, and after all anyone who believes in the power of a good education must surely want this to spread beyond their own school. I want education in Nottingham to be superb for all children and we stand prepared to help in any ways we can.

We had nearly 100 families this year apply for bursary places at our school. We will be providing free places to a good number of children from some of the most deprived areas of the city.

We need schools to meet the needs of all children, and with rising birth rates and smaller budgets there is more need than ever for schools to work together creatively and collaboratively.

I do not want to 'battle' with local state schools, I want to reach out to them to see how we can work together to improve education in all of our schools.

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