Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 October 2019

Support grows for UK private school ban

Campaigners calls for Eton to be renamed Lower Slough High School

British Labour MP John McDonnell believes private schools are unfair. Reuters
British Labour MP John McDonnell believes private schools are unfair. Reuters

A senior figure in the UK’s main opposition party is backing calls to abolish private schools, some of which have campuses abroad.

John McDonnell, shadow finance minister and a key figure in the left-wing of the Labour Party, threw his weight behind a movement that, among other things, wants to see the prestigious Eton College renamed Lower Slough High School.

Campaigners argue independent schools are unfair and effectively allow educational segregation. They say it gives a privileged few the chance to prosper in a system that most others cannot afford. Labour Against Private Schools are particularly vocal about Eton, where some members of the British Royal Family have been educated.

They want to take away the charitable status of private schools and move their assets to the state sector.

The social media cover photo of Labour against Private Schools is a university image of current Prime Minister Boris Johnson and David Cameron, who headed up the government until 2016. Both men are members of the ruling Conservative Party and went to Eton.

“We know that our society is grotesquely unequal, and part of the reason for that is because of the inequalities in education, public schools in particular, where large amounts of money are spent on a privileged few,” Mr McDonnell said.

“That’s why I support the campaign now for us to talk about how we ensure an integrated education system, where public schools don’t need to exist and shouldn’t exist where we have equality of education… to give all our children the life chances that they deserve, no matter what their background,” he added.

The news comes as Harrow, another famed private institution, that has a number of international campuses in Asia, announced it is to launch a new online school in 2020 for students from outside the UK.

Harrow said interest is expected to come from across the world, but particularly in a number of countries such as the UAE, Hong Kong and China.

It will cost £15,000 (Dh68,768) a year compared to normal fees for boarders at Harrow which are nearly £42,000 (Dh192,549).

“We live in a rapidly changing world, and education must too adapt to the new challenges this presents, and reflect young people’s lifestyles and aspiration,” said Heather Rhodes, the principal of Harrow School Online.

Focus will initially be on Chemistry, Physics, Maths and Economics and will prepare students for their A Levels and higher education.

They will receive one-to-one academic tutorials, live online lessons and regular coaching sessions.

Updated: September 19, 2019 02:13 PM

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