From The Headmaster
15th October 1981.
‘Letters to the Editor’,
P. O. Box 7,
200 Grays Inn Road,
London WC1K SEK.
Sir William van Straubenzee recently warned the new Secretary of State for Education ‘that cuts in education had not just cut through the fat, but threatened the bone’. In late September, the Headmaster of Winchester, as President of the Head masters’ Conference, while listing the progress made in independent schools noted that “the education of 94% of the nation’s children is being allowed to languish and decay”.
Be it fat or bone, surely the amount of money we ‘invest’ in education is a fair measure of our commitment to our children, and to the Nation’s future? Average costs for a place in a maintained secondary school last year were of the order of £750. net per pupil; out of this the average expenditure on textbooks was less than £9.00 per head, for all subjects, for the entire year. Parents of pupils in independent day secondary schools are paying fees (‘investing’ in ‘their children’) which average £1,423 for boys and £1,220 for girls; the cost of books, in some cases, is additional to the fees.
Can young people passing through our schools really believe that we, as a society, have faith in them and a determination to give them something better than we had ourselves when they have to share textbooks which are frequently out of date, and battered by much use? Can they really believe that we wish to equip them to live with modern technology when the Government’s declared aim is to put just one microcomputer into every secondary school? Will they value public property when we allow still further economies to preclude even the more urgent maintenance work being done to school buildings?
Yet the world the present generation of young people is currently entering must be the most discouraging one that school leavers have ever had to face. Dare we let our children go forward with anything other than the best education we can possibly provide?
A recent leader (9/10/81) said: “To invest in our youth, is to invest in Britain’s ‘future”. Our young people are our most precious commodity, they deserve far, for better than we are, at the moment, prepared to put into education.