Chris King letter to the Guardian re: the success of the independent sector

The Guardian, 08.02.16, Chris King HMC Chair and headmaster of Leicester Grammar School writes in response to (‘Massively’ improved state schools threaten private sector, News 06.02.16):

As heads of leading independent schools within the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), we are surprised to discover that, yet again, we are under threat. In fact, the number of pupils at UK independent schools has 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*.

Commentators often bemoan the fact that independent schools are so good that our pupils dominate the most successful universities and careers. How can this be when we are busy failing and going out of business?

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 HMC 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.

At the same time the economy plays a strong role in parental choice and HMC schools are working hard to keep fees as low as possible, especially in less prosperous areas. This variety of choice combined with innovation and a tailored approach is another reason why HMC schools are, in fact, thriving.

Lord Lucas has acknowledged that independent schools are also improving and innovating all the time. This is good news for parents as everyone wants to see all pupils receive the best education possible.

Chris King
Chair of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference and headmaster of Leicester Grammar School

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