Skip to main content

The horrors of the U.K private school system

  • Author:
  • Updated:

By Ben Cohen

For those of you unfortunate enough to have gone through the English private school system (and boarding school for the very unfortunate), this article by George Monbiot is guaranteed to make you laugh and cry.

I was subjected to the system myself, and as George says, will spend the rest of my life fighting its effects. The article is a brilliant expose of how a repressive class system is enforced upon us by the repressed products of eccentric private school culture. A must read:

By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 22nd January 2008

If only the government would justify the paranoia of the ruling
classes. They believe, as they have always believed, that they are
under unprecedented attack. All last week the rightwing papers rustled
with the lamentations of the privileged, wailing about a new class war.
If only.

The whinge-fest was prompted by the publication of the Charity
Commission’s new guidance about public benefits(1). If institutions
want to retain their status as charities, they should demonstrate that
they do good(2). The benefits they create should outweigh the harm they
might do, the poor should not be shut out, and “charities should not be
seen as ‘exclusive clubs’ that only a few can join”. It hardly sounds
radical: after all, what sort of charity is it that doesn’t meet these
conditions? Well, it’s a distressed gentlefolks’ association called the
private school, and it costs us £100m a year in tax exemptions(3).

Though they cannot meet even the crudest definition of charities,
the commission - doubtless terrified of the force they can muster -
grants private schools a series of escape clauses. Their charitable
status will be preserved if they provide some subsidised places to
poorer pupils or share some of their facilities with other schools,
even if they charge for them(4). Thus, according to Melanie Phillips,
Simon Heffer and a Telegraph leader, the commission has launched a
“class war”(5,6,7), motivated (according to Heffer) by
“government-orchestrated spite” or (a headteacher writing in the
Telegraph) “the rhetoric of envy”(8). As seven of the Charity
Commission’s nine board members were privately educated(9), this seems

To read the full article, click here.