Matthew Burns

HEADMASTER’S BLOG – AN A* FOR TATTLE

Good for the Tatler. The original gossip magazine has found new voice as an educational authority. According to its latest educational edition, state schools are in fashion because they teach children to “fight for their position in life” and because private schools are too expensive.

No-one denies that private education is expensive, schools work hard to provide means-tested reductions to fees. But the Tatler seems to neglect the entry criteria to the 30 top state schools it lists. In this respect it is a case of “Location, Location, Location”.  

As an example, the pupils who enter Tatler-listed Holland Park School invariably live within two miles of the school. With an average local house price that is 26 times the national average, the cost of this excellent education vastly exceeds the cost of most independent schooling.  Unfortunately, education comes at a price and the Tatler is disingenuous to suggest that the best state education is cheap. It isn’t.

But the real nonsense in this article is that private education somehow fails to prepare children to compete for their place in the real world. True, pupils in Independent Schools do not have to fight to be heard in class or secrete themselves when studying, but no-one should think for one moment that Independent Schools are not competitive places.

In the classroom, in the concert hall, on the pitch and inevitably through social interaction, our pupils are constantly assessing their performance against that of their peers. And if they are not doing it, our schools are. Our pupils learn how to work hard, they are resilient and ambitious and in boarding schools pupils learn to live closely with their peers from a multitude of backgrounds and nationalities.

My battered “Student Dictionary”, now 38 years old, defines tattle as being “trifling chat and nonsense”. The Tatler gains an A*.

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