The Education Secretary Michael Gove, today gave a speech where he said that the segregation between rich and poor children was ‘morally indefensible’. The Evening Standard tonight quotes his comments at length:
“It is remarkable how many of the positions of wealth, influence, celebrity and power in our society are held by individuals who were privately educated…on the bench of our Supreme Court, in the precincts of the Bar, in our medical schools, at the helm of FTSE 100 companies and in the boardrooms of our banks.”
He also said:
- Privately-educated people dominate all aspects of life in Britain
- Half of the UK’s gold medallists at the last Olympics were privately educated, compared with 7% of the population
- Children who are born poor are more likely to stay poor in the UK than any other comparable nation
He went on to say:
”The sheer scale, the breadth and depth of private school dominance of our society points to a deep problem in our country – one we all acknowledge but have still failed to tackle with anything like the radicalism required….
We live in a profoundly unequal society. More than almost any developed nation ours is a country in which your parentage dictates your progress. Those who are born poor are more likely to stay poor and those who inherit privilege are more likely to pass on privilege in England than in any comparable country…for those of us who believe in social justice this stratification and segregation is morally indefensible.”
I think private education is one of the key factors in promoting, maintaining and deepening inequality of opportunity in the UK.
Whenever I drive past Dulwich College (pictured above) the massive contrast between its ostentatious facilities and the local comprehensive schools turns my stomach. And a quick check on their website confirms that their lovely facilities don’t come cheap – its over £15k a year for day pupils and over £32k a year for them to board.
A Christian perspective?
There are loads of discussions that could flow from his comments about what the Government should be doing about education. But lets go a bit closer to home and focus some discussion on one specific aspect - if Christians care about social justice – and there’s enough in the Bible about it to suggest we should (check out the Poverty and Justice Bible if you need convincing) - what should our approach to private education be?
The Church has not been short of Bishops and leaders who talk fluently about equality and justice but find the lure of private education hard to resist when it comes to their own children.
What do you think – should Christians send their children to private schools?
(Please leave comments below on why you voted as you did)