Lower and middle classes being ‘squeezed out of private education’

A private school head teacher has stated that people from less advantaged background are being “squeezed out of education” while the ‘squeezed middle’ receives the lion’s share of bursaries

As reported by The Telegraph, head teacher in Buckinghamshire has claimed that private schools aren’t doing enough to support children from less advantaged backgrounds.

Dr Anthony Wallerstainer has said that independent school bursaries are being used to top up middle class pupils’ fees, rather than going towards helping those from poorer households receive a private education.

“The majority of means tested bursaries will be topping up the squeezed middle who can’t afford £40,000-a-year fees,” Wallerstainer said.

“We are going back to the demographic profile that used to send their children to the local independent schools when I started in teaching – local solicitors, GPs, people who run family businesses, local farmers, people in the armed forces from the rank of, say, major upwards – the middle classes. They are being squeezed out of private education because of affordability.”

In 2018, 5,657 private school places were fully funded using bursaries. Over four times that number (22,757) were given bursaries that paid for up to half of the fees, and three times that (66,327) bursaries went to children of staff, armed forces or clergy.

This supports what Wallersteiner has said: middle class families are queuing up for fee assistance at private schools, and this is making working class children harder to reach.

“We are not attracting as many low income parents,” he said. “We just don’t get many people from really disadvantage backgrounds coming to our school – they see it as being the preserve of a moneyed elite.”

Barnaby Lenon, chair of the ISC, said: “Independent schools are spending more than ever before on free and subsidised places for children from lower income families and developing partnerships with state sector colleagues to share teachers, facilities and experience, and sponsor state schools.

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“Schools offer fee assistance to the ‘squeezed middle’ because having a broad social mix which reflects our society is incredibly important.”

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