Does Private Education breed social tension?

In Britain, where people are divided by their background and social class more than any other
country it can be argued, an apparent issue at the forefront of society remains, does private
education breed social tension?

Do children who are able to have a private education separate themselves from society and
from those who attend a state school? In my opinion, yes, I have witnessed this for myself.
Attending multi-school events stood in a state school uniform, with the eyes of the local
private school looking down upon me as if I’m a lower class citizen. Am I or many others
less important merely because my parents did not pay £3000 a term to be educated? I think
not. It is time for society to discuss this issue properly and passionately for this issue will
continue to divide society, and in a time of austerity, social division is increased beyond its
average levels. However, it may also be true that those who have had a state education are the
ones who are marginalising private school pupils from the rest of the society.

Alan Bennett, a successful playwright, recently contributed to the Guardian on this very
issue. “I do believe that if private education was abolished, and we only had one system of
education, the whole atmosphere of this country would alter” he said. Alan’s words in my
opinion resonate with many people across our country, and will also be highly criticised. If
we live in a country with one education system, where everyone has the same opportunity at
the start of their education, then surely society in Britain will me more fair. A society where
the factory workers son and the chief executives daughter have both had a state education,
and then their success will be achieved knowing they had the same opportunity at the
beginning of their life.

But, in Britain, we live in a democracy and therefore this divisive issue should have balance
and should be fairly debated. It is true that everyone should have a choice and, therefore
if parents choose to have their children educated privately then this decision should be

I believe that there is an appetite in society to abolish private education. A drastic belief I
know, but a belief that I believe would make our society as a whole much fairer and a belief
that would loosen the reins of social division. If we could all live in a society in which we
were given the same opportunity from the beginning, then I believe we would lead much
more fulfilling lives.

Now many of you reading this article may conclude that I am merely jealous that I wasn’t
fortunate to receive a private education, that conclusion I can insist is wrong. I am proud to
be a product of the state education system, an education that has served me well and enabled
me to attend university.

I will leave you with the words of my former headmaster; “Just because you have had a state
education, it does not mean that you are any less important than others you may have been
more fortunate than you”.

Joshua Godfrey is a First Year Journalism & Politics Student at the University of Worcester. He also tweets from @joshuagodfrey.

This article is solely the views of the author, and should not be taken to represent the views of the Liberal Democrat party, Liberal Youth, nor the editorship of the Libertine.


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