An ‘unspoken selling point’ of the proposed low-cost private school, the Independent Grammar School: Durham (IGSD) ‘is the cachet of attending a private school’, says the Economist (10 May 2018).
At the same time, the Economist says, ‘the fees will have the effect of excluding pupils from the most deprived backgrounds.’
At least the paper’s being honest. What it’s saying is that for £52 per week per pupil, parents can boast they are educating their children privately while ensuring their offspring don’t mix with those undesirable disadvantaged kids.
IGSD is the brain child of Prof James Tooley and Christian Gray, former head of Grindon Hall Christian School, a free school which grew from a private school in 2012. It was judged Inadequate in 2014. Gray told the Economist the damning Ofsted judgement ‘came after the school moved from the private to the state sector in 2012, tripling its pupil roll.’
But Company Accounts* for Grindon Hall Christian School for year ending 31 August 2013 show the school ‘doubled from 250 to 500 children’ when it became a free school. Doubling is not tripling.
Tooley has long been an advocate of low-cost, for-profit schools. He co-founded Omega schools, a chain of low-cost, for-profit schools operating mainly in Africa. The Liberian Government criticised Omega in 2017 for being ‘largely absent’ from its schools during the year.
A chain of similar low cost schools in the UK would be ‘very attractive indeed’ for investors, Tooley wrote. No doubt the unspoken appeal to English snobbery will boost this allure.
*Available from Companies House