The highest earning parents in the country should have to pay the same fees to send their children to a high-ranking state school as they would to send them to a top independent school, according to radical reforms proposed by a leading Headmaster this week. Anthony Seldon, the headmaster of London’s Wellington College, is calling for a drastic change to the country’s education system in proposing these reforms. He also suggests that independent schools should put aside a quarter of their places for children from the poorest families, in order to enhance their chance for social mobility whilst reducing the current domination of the top state schools by the wealthiest families. These suggestions have been proposed in response to a growing divide between exam success rates of the students of state and private schools, as well as a decline in social mobility between the upper and lower classes, stating that, “only radical proposals such as these will address this problem. And they are long overdue.” Seldon also believes that these reforms would be a good way of introducing more money into the state school system, as well as providing a good incentive for state schools to improve on their overall performance whilst offering a more well-rounded and better quality of education to a higher number of students across the UK. He is quoted as saying, “these proposals are sensible, workable and fair, and if enacted would result in much better and fairer education for all.” Part of his proposed reforms would include the means testing of state schools, resulting in the wealthiest section of the population being charged to send their children to the schools with the best performance. Families who earn over £80,000 a year would be asked to contribute part of the fees in order to enroll their children, whilst the top earners with an annual income above £200,000 would be asked to pay the full price of an independent day school. It is said that this would generate surplus funding for the state schools in question – one quarter of the profits would remain in the possession of that school, whilst the rest would be distributed across other schools in need of the money. In order to create a unified education system, Seldon suggests that independent schools need to bond with state schools, sharing facilities and teaching methods, and that state schools should adopt certain features of private schools, including house systems and the option of boarding. However, many Oxford students do not agree with Seldon’s proposals. Ellen Robinson, a first year Classicist at Worcester, commented, “Seldon’s proposal completely ignores the possibility that if a high quality state school education costs just as much as a place at an independent school, high income families who would otherwise have opted for a state education may just as well choose an independent school to access the benefits in terms of prestige and reputation which such an education generally has. Ultimately it won’t resolve the issue, just drive an increasing number of people towards private education.” Jack Lennard, a student at Keble, largely agrees, commenting, “it’s a good idea in principle, but hardly realistic – there’s enough deliberate confusion over catchment areas to get into the best schools, with this idea you’ll just have people pretending to be poor”. Finally, Rebecca Borthwick of Brasenose College showed her disapproval, commenting, “that’s like charging a rich person £100 for a freddo”. read more