Headmasters’ warning against public-private sector ‘arranged marriage’

BBC News, 03.10.16, independent schools cannot deliver effective help to state schools in England with "a gun pointing at our heads", HMC Chair Mike Buchanan, Head of Ashford School has said speaking at the 2016 Annual Conference.

Mike Buchanan told the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference that "forcing" them to work together was "unlikely to work".

He compared the government's plan for changing the way schools work together to a forced marriage.

Ministers say many private schools have good state sector partnerships.

The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) represents 282 of the UK's top independent schools.

'Unlikely to work'

As part of its proposals for secondary schools in England, the government has said independent schools will be able to maintain their charitable status and tax breaks only if they set up or sponsor a local state school.

Smaller private schools will be expected to send teachers to take lessons in state schools and the independent sector must offer more scholarships and bursaries to pupils who cannot afford fees.

Speaking at the HMC's annual conference in Stratford-upon-Avon, Mr Buchanan, headmaster at Ashford School in Kent, said: "Independent and state schools cannot make our relationships work with a gun pointing at our heads.

"We hope the prime minister understands that - after all, she had the good sense to outlaw forced marriages as home secretary.

"She must know, then, that all good partnerships are based on mutual desire, understanding, respect and co-operation. They work best when the parties have a good deal in common."

He argued that "sustainable partnerships" require "practical things", such as proximity, to work.

"The ability to drop by, share experiences and talk through problems is a great asset as the most successful multi-academy trusts know," he said.

"Thus, in the messy, complex real world, forcing independent and state schools together is fraught with practical difficulties and, ultimately, is unlikely to work."

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