John Harris`s article could not have come at a more appropriate time, as it is clear education is going to play a prominent role in the election strategies of the main parties over the next sixteen months.(What exactly can private schools teach the state sector?20/01/14) Sadly, however, with a privately educated spokesperson for education at the helm for Labour, there may well be little to distinguish between them; Hunt has already run the risk of losing the support of teachers in the state sector by foolishly advocating the adoption both of Performance Related Pay, and of a licensing system which suggests his opinion of teachers is too Gove-like for comfort.
The message from the private sector, via Seldon`s report for the Social Market Foundation, is that social mobility can somehow be enhanced by "affluent parents at popular state schools" being charged "fees of up to £20,000". Presumably this money would be spent by the schools reducing class sizes and hiring more qualified teachers, thereby increasing the gap between themselves and the less "popular" schools? Decreasing the education opportunites for the less well-off as a way to "enhance social mobility" is a new one on me!
More money spent on schools, however, is an obvious solution, but it has to go to all schools, with more pay for classroom teachers urgently needed, and more graduates encouraged to join the profession and teach in state schools. One thing is certain: that money has to be raised by making the tax system fairer, with the well-off, the rich and the obscenely rich being forced to pay more.
In answer to Harris`s question, the private sector can teach nothing to the state sector, as recent examination results have proved. Of course, when state schools` results approach those of private schools, the establishment, in the form of a Tory government, takes action, and the rules for assessment get changed, as we saw last year. State education, like the NHS, has to be protected and supported, and it is the duty of a future Labour government to do so.