HMC Heads’ letter to the Sunday Times: Defending independent schools’ role in society

In a letter to the Sunday Times, 05.06.16, HMC leading independent school Heads reject claims that they are bolstering privilege in society and say it is time to stop being "rude" about their schools which provide outstanding education and are striving to be engines for social mobility, with up to a quarter of pupils at some schools drawn from poorer homes and receiving bursaries or scholarships. 


A number of journalists and politicians have decided — not for the first time — that it’s a good moment to be rude about independent schools. The schools of which we are heads do not fit these stereotypes: we have plenty of pupils from ordinary backgrounds who would not recognise this picture of their schools. As heads, we all agree education is the most powerful engine for social mobility. To that end, all of our schools are deeply committed to accessibility. In particular, the provision of means-tested assisted places has grown enormously in recent years, mainly through the generosity of alumni who often benefited from a free education at our schools. At some independent schools a quarter of pupils are on assisted places and many schools spend millions each year on this purpose. In addition, almost all independent schools work with their local communities in a wide variety of ways, sponsoring academies, creating free schools, sharing teachers and facilities, and running programmes in maths, science, languages, sport, music and drama that enrich lives and raise aspirations.

Independent schools cannot solve all educational and social problems. However, we will always work with other schools, with other organisations and with government to make more widely available the outstanding education that we provide.

John Claughton, King Edward’s School, Birmingham; Philip Britton, Bolton School; Joe Spence, Dulwich College, London; Simon Henderson, Eton College; David Goodhew, Latymer Upper School, London; Chris King, Leicester Grammar School; Martin Boulton, Manchester Grammar School; Kevin Fear, Nottingham High School; Bernard Trafford, Royal Grammar School, Newcastle; Peter Green, Rugby School; Richard Harman, Uppingham School, Rutland; Patrick Derham, Westminster School, London

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