Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Schools create a ‘social apartheid’ claims top headteacher as survey claims that rich and poor students fail to mix due to education system

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Mail Online, 11/09/13

  • A survey found that many believe private and state school structure is causing division
  • Many also felt that private school education gives wealthier pupils unfair advantage
  • Private headmaster Anthony Seldon said that too many schools are split along class lines

The education system is segregating rich and poor children and stopping them from mixing, a new survey has claimed.

Researchers found that two thirds of those surveyed believe that the structure of private and state schools is the cause of social divisions.

Almost the same number of those questioned also felt that a private education gives children from wealthier backgrounds an ‘unfair advantage’, according to the study of more than 2,000 people by the Challenge Network.

The survey’s claims were backed up by one of the UK’s leader headmaster’s who warned that educational differences were creating a ‘social apartheid’.

Anthony Seldon, master of Wellington College, a private school for 13 to 18-year-olds, said: ‘The current school system in the UK does effectively nothing to diminish segregation in our society.

‘The limited mixing and interaction between those that attend private and state schools helps fuel a social apartheid that has gone unaddressed for too long.

‘We have a responsibility to future generations to bridge our two-tier education system and work towards ending our class division to mutual benefit.

‘A healthy nation is one where each child, regardless of background, can see their potential fulfilled, and their gifts fully embraced and rewarded by society.’

The survey found that more than half said that one of the reasons that parents choose to educate their children privately is to separate their youngsters from poorer children.

And more than 70 per cent said they thought private school pupils would benefit from mixing with people from other schools.

Less than half felt that private education made a positive contribution to the UK economy, with more than a third claiming that private schools stand in the way of social mobility.

Craig Morley, chief executive and co-founder of the Challenge Network, said: ‘The relationships people form in their school years have a defining impact on their lives.

‘The lack of interaction between pupils from private and state schools is leading to worryingly high levels of segregation.

‘It is crucial that young people are given opportunities to spend time and share experiences with people that are different to themselves.

‘These experiences help young people to develop skills that are vital to securing employment, as well as improving social mobility and breaking down the artificial barriers that lead to divided communities.’

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