Ban ‘undemocratic’ private schools, demands Manchester Uni professor

Private schools should be abolished and are detrimental to creating a democratic country, according to Manchester University’s professor of education.

Alan Dyson, who attended a state grammar school, believes that children who come from privileged backgrounds shouldn’t be able to buy advantages when it comes to education.

However, the professor says there is no evidence to suggest children can’t perform as well in a state school as a private school.

“The problem is that private education appears to bestow some significant advantages on the individuals who receive it, in terms of access to prestigious universities and life-long earnings, careers and access to high-status professions,” he told MM.

“What we’re trying to build is a democratic country.

“To say that people can access life-long advantages simply because their parents have the money to do it is not the kind of society that we should be trying to build.”

Dyson, who attended Huddersfield New College in the 1960s, believes that the existence of private schools isn’t justified by the belief some people have that state schools aren’t good enough.

“If we were to decide that state schools weren’t good enough, then the answer would not be to set up private schools for a small minority who could afford to escape,” he said.

“I don’t think the existence of private schools is justified by the characteristics of state schools. The answer would be to improve state schools.

“Unfortunately we’ve got politicians, who for their own purposes, have vilified state schools for the past 25-30 years. It has become a nasty habit.”

The Professor also says that people who are educated at private schools have too much of an impact on high-status professions due to networking.

“There are positions of influence and high status professions where you get a disproportionate number of privately educated workers,” he said.

“You have to assume that the network of contact is quite important in that.

“The advantages that are bestowed by private schools are not simply because the children who go there are super talented or because the schools are super effective.”

Even though the majority of state schools provide an outstanding service, Dyson believes that the government could do more with the Conservatives set to slash £13.3billion from the education budget by 2020.

“There’s an issue in the state system and across public services, that we try to get our services in this country on the cheap,” he said.

“We think that we can spend relatively little on services such a schools and somehow get a Rolls Royce service. That’s a mistake.

“It’s not an excuse for having private schools though, even if you were to accept that state schools aren’t as good as they should be.

“Having private schools is provide a lifeboat for a minority of children whose parents have the money to pay.”

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