Richard Harman comments on Anthony Seldon speech

Richard Harman, HMC Chairman commented on Anthony Seldon’s speech:

'Sir Anthony Seldon’s speech at Wellington College, reported today, is characteristically pugnacious.  I share Anthony’s concern that some government initiatives have had a stultifying effect on education, and agree that over-emphasis on exams and league tables can diminish rather than enhance learning. That is why HMC members use their independence to celebrate diversity and make innovation happen.

As HMC Chairman I have the privilege of visiting many members’ schools and have been inspired this year by many examples of innovation and originality throughout the UK. As Anthony implies, our exam results are excellent but this is far from the whole story. Research shows that parents choose our schools mainly because of the holistic and broadly-based education on offer.  Members’ schools are certainly not all chasing DfE league table positions - most now offer IGCSEs which are excluded from government performance tables and many of the highest achieving independent schools do not release their exam results to the press.

Nor are independent schools becoming less diverse: for example, each year the number of pupils entering for alternatives to A-levels such as the IB, the EPQ and Pre-U qualifications is growing.  Our very independence from government control means our schools provide the bespoke education that local parents are seeking for their children.

Characteristically, Anthony is being far too modest about his own achievements and those of our members in recent years. My prediction is that their schools will continue to go from strength to strength, while adapting to meet the challenges ahead.'