Former Labour Parliamentary Candidate, George Aylett has recently called for the abolition of private schools in the UK. Speaking with the grassroots campaign, Labour Against Private Schools he said: “The very existence of private schools creates a two-tier system that entrenches inequality and allows those who can afford this privilege to gain a fast track into powerful positions in society.” We spoke to George Aylett and found out his views on private schools, posing questions from the opposite side of the debate.
One of the major criticisms is the number of new people added to the state school system, how would this be effectively managed and would this be a big concern?
“This isn’t a big concern if the funding and planning is there. If the funding is made available and the implementation of the policy is properly planned then the transition to integrate private schools into the comprehensive system won’t be a problem.
Some Conservative activists seem to think that this is an impossibility and some have even called the children who would move from the private system to the comprehensive system a ‘burden’. They aren’t a burden and it’s worrying to see this sort of language.
This policy can be implemented if the political will is there.”
Do you believe abolishing private schools would improve the quality of education across the board, if so, why?
“The abolition of private schools is not a panacea in itself to improve the quality of education but a necessary policy, alongside other reforms, to make our education system more equal and fairer. The policy should be implemented alongside huge investment in comprehensives, restoring EMA, scrapping tuition fees, cancelling student debt, expanding free childcare etc.”
Lucy Powell MP’s recent investigations have found that private school children will have to sit less challenging GCSEs. Do you think a public-private system could work if it acknowledged the privilege of those students rather than having the double benefit of higher quality education and often easier examinations?
“Tinkering around the edges does not fix a fundamentally broken system. I believe in an education system where everybody, regardless of their background, should receive first class education on a level playing field. The very existence of private schools undermines this principle because their existence creates a two-tiered system of education where those who can afford the privilege will gain an unfair advantage over everybody else. The existence of private schools entrenches inequality and gives people, who can afford to go to private school, a fast track into powerful positions in society. It is vitally important we make our education system fairer and more equal so, to help achieve this goal, abolishing private schools will need to be a necessity.”
Grammar schools have attempted to be that slingshot for working-class students that private schools are for rich families. Would you support this if it enables young people to access the opportunity of rising the social ladder, or is a traditional socialist classless society preferable in your view?
“Only 3 out of every 100 pupils at grammar schools come from poor backgrounds. They do not help achieve social justice.”