Lies & Myths #1 “Independent Schools are Only for the Wealthy Elite”

All too often we hear people say that only the wealthy elite can afford to send their children to a private school.

It’s actually quite interesting to hear the various ‘truths’ about the UK’s private education system that the general public believe are true.

These ‘truths’ have often developed, either out of disinformation by organisations who benefit from briefing against private schools, or they are from news stories drafted by reporters with an eye to readership levels or blatant click-bait.

Series of articles by ISC

It’s for this reason that a timely series of articles by the Independent Schools Council should hopefully go some way to address the inaccuracies in the media and help to present a fairer picture for all concerned.

The first of these articles is by Harry Arnison, a pupil at The Grammar School at Leeds, in which he refutes the often referenced concept that “independent schools are only for the wealthy elite”.

In his own words

Joining the sixth form of an independent school from a state school is daunting, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have a number of ingrained stereotypes about what to expect.

I expected prejudice and elitism and, I was wrong. Instead I found staff and students who were welcoming, friendly and supportive, a culture of hard work and a desire to be successful that was new to me.

One of my former teachers had joined The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) and encouraged me to apply for a sixth form place. I half expected not to hear back, so when I was offered a bursary funded by HSBC I was delighted to have the chance to make something of myself along with 20 or so of my peers who had been offered a similar opportunity.

Although optimistic, I was not completely comfortable with joining my new school. I had a fear of spending my two most socially active years with no school friends, but I was immediately struck by the friendliness. The elitist culture I envisioned was shattered quickly and replaced with one of hard work. The students I have the privilege of sharing a school day with simply want to do well. They have high ambitions and want to succeed for themselves as well as their parents; an attitude I have found infectious.

For reasons which I assume are born out of the stereotypes surrounding ‘posh people’, an ‘us and them’ mentality exists within the state school sector. In reality the mould I expected everyone to fit into didn’t exist. The cost of independent education takes a school like GSAL off the table for the average state school student who has just finished GCSEs. The provision of bursaries is vital in enabling more young people like me to access all that the sector has to offer. My school – for I now see it very much as MY school – spends over £1m a year providing bursaries, supporting 140 students like me. This enables academically capable students from all over the city to attend the school irrespective of their financial circumstances.

You can read Harry Arnison’s full article on the ISC website

photo credit: By Chemical Engineer – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

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