Left Futures associate editor Conrad Landin appeared on the international radio station Voice of Russia on Wednesday to discuss private education.
The half-hour panel discussion also included Barnaby Lenon, the chair of the Independent Schools Council and former head of the exclusive Harrow School; Lib Dem blogger Mark Thompson; and educational researcher Alka Sehgal Cuthbert.
The discussion started with the subject of Nick Clegg’s recent announcement that he is considering sending his son to private school.
Conrad began by arguing:
“Whenever this subject is raised, we hear time and time again that of course we must accept that what every politician wants is to do the best for their children. That sounds pretty reasonable. But actually ‘the best for my children’ usually means better than other people’s children.
“That’s what parents pay for in a private school. And for anyone in a position of representation, anyone responsible for our state schools, that is very ethically questionable.
“Nick Clegg said he doesn’t want to turn his eldest child into a ‘political football’, suggesting that private education is on the cards. But I would seriously question whether sending your kids to state schools is a political act.
“93 per cent of families do it. Are they all taking political decisions in doing so? No. On the contrary, I would argue that sending your children to private schools is the political act. In sending your children to private schools, you are deciding that it’s acceptable to buy advantage for your children, and to segregate young people on the basis of wealth.”
The discussion went on to cover bursaries, charity status for private schools, academies and free schools and social mobility.