Paul Braterman’s description of independent schools as “parasites” (Letters, 18 September) may express his personal hostility towards them, but is woefully wide of the mark as a description of their operation.
Independent schools save the taxpayer a huge amount of money, while also educating young people to a high standard – a further service to wider society. On top of this, boarding schools also contribute to the economy through their attractiveness to overseas students.
Professor Braterman is correct, though, to claim that “independent schools exist to purchase privilege”. High quality education is indeed a privilege, yielding a broad range of benefits through adult life. That’s why schools, state and independent, strive to provide it. The desire of parents to invest time, energy and money in the intellectual and character development of their children is a noble instinct, without which society would flounder.
It manifests itself in varied guises, from reading a story at bed time, through clubs and activities, help with homework, extra tuition, striving to gain entry to the best state schools, to independent education.
Of course, this admirable desire to promote the interests of one’s own family must be balanced by a responsibility to ensure that educational provision is made for all children. Our tax system ensures that this responsibility is fulfilled.
If Professor Braterman wishes state schools to be funded as generously as independent schools, he should campaign for higher levels of taxation, not against independent schools.
We welcomed Michael Gove’s announcement in Parliament to introduce the new “English Bac Certificate”, but fear that it will only solve part of the problem with preparing children for future working life.
Employers are not only concerned about the current examination system, which the shake-up in the exam system will seek to improve.
While replacing the General Certificate of Secondary Education with the English Baccalaureate Certificate is, in principle, a good idea, employers are also worried that many youngsters are ill prepared for work and have limited knowledge about whether starting a career or further education is the best thing for them after school or A levels.
Young people need to gain an understanding of where to go post-schooling, so that they can make an informed choice.
We urge Michael Gove to ensure that young people have both the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the world of work, and not just for passing academic exams.
Career Academies UK
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 10 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east