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Private school parents are unfairly criticised by 'virtue flagging' friends, leading headmaster says

Posted on: 2018-10-01 18:00:00

Shaun Fenton, head of the £18,720-a-year Reigate Grammar School and chair of the Headmasters’ and Headmistress’ Conference (HMC), said parents often get a “hard time” about sending their children to fee-paying schools.

But no parent should have to “apologise” or be made to feel “selfish” when they are merely “doing the best for their children” by investing in their future.

Whether it is in the workplace, at social gatherings or in a political arena, Mr Fenton urged people to “lay off” mothers and fathers who privately educate their children and to “stop criticising good parenting”.

“Parents who are making good decisions on behalf of their children should be commended because that what good parenting is supposed to be about,” he said.

“If the alternative is that you sacrifice the interests of your children’s education for some kind of political ideology or some kind of virtue flagging, that doesn’t seem to be authentic parenting.”

As chair of HMC, Mr Fenton represents 292 the country’s most prestigious schools, including Eton, Harrow and Winchester.   

Addressing headteachers at the annual autumn HMC conference in Manchester, he said that many parents “sacrifice and save” to pay for fees.

“[Parents] work hard they choose wisely, they make a rational decision, a rational choice that any parent should be allowed to do,” he said.

“They want to decide how to spend their after tax income and they decide they want to invest in their children’s future and then they choose our schools.

“Good parents should do their best for their children - and so I ask that we lay off independent school parents and stop criticising good parenting.”

Mr Fenton,  who has previously been headmaster at a state comprehensive school and a grammar school,  said that private schools are “rich with moral purpose” and its alumni are imbued with a sense of social responsibility meaning when they leave school they want to “make the world a better place”.

Those who are critical of the independent education sector are often “ignorant” about the amount of volunteering and charity work they do in their local communities, he added.   

In his opening address, Mr Fenton also drew on the importance of bursaries, saying they are one of "the most important" things independent schools do.

"Every individual bursary matters and we should be proud of the work we do," said Mr Fenton.


By Camilla Turner, Education Editor









Source: Telegraph

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