Private school head likens privately educated people to a persecuted Jewish minority

Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson

Headteacher of Stowe school Anthony Wallersteiner has likened privately educated people to a persecuted Jewish minority.

“Conspiratorial language”

From 2013-2017, there was a 2.05% increase in state school pupils attending Oxbridge. Reflecting on this, Wallersteiner (who’s of Jewish descent) told the Times:

The rise of populists and polemicists has created a micro-industry in bashing private schools.

Some of the criticisms echo the conspiratorial language of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It was relatively easy for Hitler and his henchmen to suggest that the Jewish minority was over-represented in key professions: medicine, law, teaching and the creative industries.

Wallersteiner, who’s school charges £12,000 per term, added that parents felt that aiming to bring in more state school pupils to Oxbridge was “social engineering”.

“Accused of dominating the top jobs”

Wallersteiner continued:

Privately educated pupils in the UK are also being accused of dominating the top jobs and stifling social mobility … it is all too facile to stereotype groups and ignore the fact that lawyers, doctors, writers and politicians are individuals.

But it’s not an ‘accusation’, it’s a fact. Only 7% of the UK population attend private schools. Yet figures from 2016 show the percentage of people working in top professions who received this privileged education is much higher:

  • 80% of top media editors.
  • 74% of top judges.
  • 54% of leading journalists.
  • 32% of MPs.

And around 39% of students who attend Oxbridge went to private school.

The real ‘social engineering’

On social media, people called out Wallersteiner and the private school parents:

Wallersteiner says we shouldn’t ‘bash’ private schools. Yet the whole point of private education is to prevent social mobility and keep power in the hands of elite families. This private system only takes away resources from state schools. We should, therefore, go further than ‘bashing’ them. Private schools should be abolished and the quality of universal education increased. Merit, not your parent’s income, should determine how far you go.

Featured image via LadyGeekTV/ WikiCommons and Boris Johnson/ WikiCommons

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  • Show Comments
    1. The issue is possibly not as simple (or simplistic?) as some commentators here might have it. I certainly have no sympathy with the idea of poor little rich people being persecuted; that shows a serious lack of judgement.

      What is true, however, is that the standards of education available in private schools are far better than anything available in the state sector. The danger with closing down private schools is that those standards won’t be transferred to the state sector, there will simply be no higher standard to aim for.

      What matters here is not doing down private schools, but doing something to improve the lot of the state sector.

      I know that one of the arguments for closing down the private sector is that wealthy parents would demand better standards. They might, but I doubt very much whether they would apply their demands across the board. They would be much more likely to create ghettos of well-appointed schools – which is what happens in France, where, despite there being more or less no private schools, the standards of education available in state schools in (for example) the wealthy parts of Paris are far higher than those available in the poorer parts.

      Invest properly in state schools, and the private sector will die of attrition.

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