Bolton School head rebukes Ofsted chief's 'crumbs of the table' criticism of private schools
THE head of Bolton School has hit back at the Ofsted chief inspector after he accused private schools of offering state-edcuation youngsters little more than the “crumbs off their tables”.
In a stinging attack, Ofsted chief inspector Michael Wilshaw said that too many fee-paying schools do nothing more than offer the loan of a playing field, or some coaching for A-level students.
In a speech to the Headmasters’ and Head-mistresses’ Conference (HMC), Mr Wilshaw called on private school heads to support their local schools and dispel the perception that they “do not care about the educational world beyond their cloisters and quads”.
Philip Britton, head of Bolton School Boys Division, said he was disappointed by the speech and that significant time and resources were invested into the community.
He said: “The moral message, that independent schools should support the academic aspirations of their local area, is absolutely in tune with what Bolton School and many others do now.
"What was disappointing was the rhetoric with which that message was delivered, a sketchy understanding of the current activity in place and also a continued obsession with sponsoring academies.
“It was also disappointing that in his examples the furthest north Sir Michael got was Stowe.
"The northern independent day schools, like Bolton, are often deeply rooted in their communities and have been for many years.”
Mr Britton added: “Bolton School has for many years supported local academic aspirations, working with all sorts of schools in many different ways.
“Most recently we have started a reading mentoring programme at Smithills and are exploring a programme of support for a group of Farnworth primary schools.
“These and other projects are not crumbs from a table, but are schemes supporting needs that the community identifies, are sustainable collaborations, always involving significant time and often significant resources.”
The head concluded: “We were delighted when the then schools commissioner, Dr Liz Sidwell, visited Bolton to see all the activity last year.
“Perhaps Sir Michael also needs to visit and appreciate that local solutions work in a local context.”
Mr Wilshaw acknowledged that some independent schools are committed to helping state schools, but added “many more do very little”.
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