Head teacher claims parents fear ‘social engineering’ as more state students go to Oxbridge | UK News
The head teacher of an independent school is facing a backlash after saying a rise in state school pupils being accepted by Oxford or Cambridge has caused parents to fear “social engineering”.
In an interview with The Times, Anthony Wallersteiner, head of the £12,000-a-term Stowe School in Buckinghamshire, said schemes to help poorer students had “successfully driven down the number of Oxbridge places awarded to privately educated pupils”.
His comments have caused a social media storm, with many arguing it is still much harder for state school pupils to access the prestigious universities.
Mr Wallersteiner, who is of Jewish descent, also likened criticism of private schools to antisemitic abuse, saying: “The rise of populists and polemicists has created a micro-industry in bashing private schools.”
He added: “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.
“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”.
Labour peer Andrew Adonis called the comparison “disgraceful”, while others described it as “offensive”.
A spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Tasteless Holocaust analogies do not belong in the debate about education in this country.”
David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, wrote on Twitter: “A 1.4% rise in 5 years in state school kids getting into Oxbridge and the parents of private school kids fear social engineering! Is The Times having a laugh? That’s 40 kids – 1 per college.”
In a post on Twitter, Labour’s Rupa Huq wrote: “There is no automatic entitlement of private school pupils to get to Oxbridge. As someone who graduated from there but studied and taught at a range of places including post-1992 sector and redbrick there *are* other alternatives available.”
Mr Wallersteiner’s comments were also criticised by fellow head teachers, including the head of another independent school.
Laurie McLellan, the head of Nanjing International School, said he was “embarrassed” by Mr Wallersteiner’s comments and added that “being more inclusive brings only benefits”.
Parents buy their kids a better education and life chances over children who have no means to pay for the same: “perfectly just, don’t see a problem with it.”
Universities attempt modest measures to level the playing field: “COMMUNISM.”
— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) May 10, 2019
In a statement posted on Twitter, the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference said: “We applaud the fact that applications to Oxbridge from all backgrounds continue to grow.
“Combined with the rising international intake, entry is tighter for all UK students.
“Good candidates still get in whatever their school background.”
According to analysis published by social mobility charity The Sutton Trust in December, eight private schools were responsible for sending more students to Oxbridge than almost 3,000 other UK state schools put together.
The report found the eight top schools sent 1,310 pupils to Oxbridge over three years, while 2,894 other schools sent 1,220 students between them over the same period.