British Private Schools: Research on Policy and Practice

British Private Schools: Research on Policy and Practice

British Private Schools: Research on Policy and Practice

British Private Schools: Research on Policy and Practice


In a series of surveys of the whole independent school sector in Britain, the contributors to this study reveal a wide choice. This ranges from home schools that just make the numbers needed to be classed as a school, through to Muslim schools and the traditional, extremely expensive Eton-style schools.


Geoffrey Walford

The British private sector is characterised by its diversity. This may seem a surprising fact to many, as it is the well-known schools within the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference that are usually the continued focus of fascination and attention. Such schools (which used to be called 'public schools') have long been subjected to both criticism for their elitism and praise for their academic success, and most research and discussion of the private sector in Britain has been about these schools.

One reason for such a focus is the historical relationship that the schools within the Headmasters' Conference (and more recently the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference) have had with the British ruling class. Entry to such schools has been seen as a passport to academic success, to high-status universities and to prosperous and influential careers. This is certainly less true than it once was, but the majority of the schools themselves would obviously wish to foster such an image. the Independent Schools Information Service (ISIS) (recently renamed the Independent Schools Council information service, ISCis) has very successfully promoted the view that private schools offer 'high-quality' education, and successive surveys of British parents show that a high proportion would use the private sector for their children if they could afford to do so.

The Independent Schools Council (ISC) is the umbrella organisation that draws together all of the major associations serving the headteachers and governing bodies of private schools. the most well known are the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference and the Girls' Schools Association which bring together the headteachers of boys' and co-educational schools and girls' schools respectively. the governing bodies of some schools are similarly members of the Governing Bodies Association and the Governing Bodies of Girls' Schools Association. the Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools serves the headteachers of preparatory schools for children up to the age of 14, while the Society of Headmasters and Headmistresses of Independent Schools brings

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