Private Schools - England's Elite Head to East End: News

By Barker, Irena | Times Educational Supplement, September 13, 2013 | Go to article overview

Private Schools - England's Elite Head to East End: News


Barker, Irena, Times Educational Supplement


Eton students enter the foreign land of a state primary school.

Gallions Primary School is situated in one of England's poorest communities, on the far eastern reaches of London. Local landmarks include the Beckton sewage and gas treatment works, and planes from London City Airport roar overhead.

Eton College, meanwhile, educates the sons of nobility and millionaires for Pounds 32,000 a year per boy. Housed in historic buildings with its own Olympic-standard rowing lake, the school is a world away from the inner city.

But despite the potential for a culture clash, the two schools are pioneering an alliance that will allow students at both to get a glimpse of how the other half lives. Gallions is providing placements for 15- and 16-year-old Eton boys to work as teaching assistants and observe how children are educated in the state sector, discovering "a world they did not know existed".

When they return to Eton, the students will establish and run a fundraising scheme to support Gallions' music programmes.

All the boys taking part are from Penn House, one of 25 boarding houses at Eton. "It was interesting because the headteacher at Gallions had the idea that they could learn a lot from Eton, but it was clear to me that we had a lot more to learn from them than they did from us," house master Stuart McPherson said.

"I like the fact that there is the big age difference between our boys and the Gallions students. They are probably just 8 or 9, so it's more like being with a brother or sister.

"You don't have the awkwardness of meeting with older children of the same age, where the social barriers might be more pronounced."

The project is one of several partnerships that Eton is undertaking with state schools. …

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