For generations, Eton, Harrow and Westminster have been associated with prestige, privilege, and of course politics. The current prime minister proves this point, with him being an alumnus of Eton College. Before him, former PM David Cameron attended Eton, whilst Churchill went to Harrow. The correlation between private schools and those in positions of power has questionable positivity, casting doubt as to the real reason certain individuals end up in government.

Priviledged relics of the past

Independent schools have an outdated nature based on their original purpose: to educate the sons of the wealthy. All-boys schools existed as a result of prejudice and inequality rather than any proven evidence that they focus better on schoolwork without female distraction. But this is the 21st century, and it’s still the case that the top schools in England are solely for boys. It’s scary to think a system with associations to positions of power still holds a similar structure to when it started. As apparent as it may be, women exist in society too, and they too have potential. So why not expand a system that breeds elites to accommodate this hopeful class of people?

One general problem, and certainly not exclusive to women, is that the private school system is for the privileged. That’s why a mere 6-7 per cent of the UK population attend private schools. But just how expensive could these schools be? Well, funny that you should ask. As of 2021, Eton College charges £14,698 per term — there are three terms in a year. Harrow is a bit more considerate with £14,200 per given term. Sarcasm aside, it’s patently obvious that attending these schools requires no small amount of wealth.

Are we underestimating public schools?

But private schools are not the only providers of a good education. Public schools such as The King’s School and Lady Margaret School, for instance, hold a reassuring 90 per cent A-C pass rate for GCSE results. So it’s not all doom and gloom if you can’t find a spare £44,000+ lying around the house.

England alone holds 20,000 government-funded schools, each containing a variety of students and teachers. A report looking into improving England’s government schools revealed that 74 out of the 100 schools investigated emphasized the need for better leadership. It was concluded that teachers’ relationships with students greatly improved following the restructuring of public schools. There is then optimism towards the public school system that perhaps wasn’t there before.

John White’s 2015 study ‘What’s Wrong With Private Education’ highlighted that private schools lacked social cohesiveness. The system itself encourages further division within society and influences the morality of its students. The fact that 57 per cent of House of Lords members are private-school educated, compared with 17 per cent that come from public schools, gives a better perspective of the problem. Britain’s head debaters and legislators primarily come from an elitist system — this should raise alarm bells. 

A domino effect

Those coming from private schools are twice as likely to get into the UK’s elite Russell Group of universities. What we have is a pernicious domino effect within the education system. Private schooling leads to elite universities and elite universities generally lead to higher chances of securing the top positions. Regardless of a child’s potential, their future is curtailed by their parents’ economic status.

Now ask yourself: should an antiquated education system be allowed to restrict an intelligent child’s future?

The fact that certain classes benefit from the English education system is no coincidence. It speaks of a strategy that seeks to maintain control over the country’s political future. The sooner this problem is recognized and addressed, the sooner politics can become more representative of the people it stands to defend.

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