Article written by Callum Vaga – Former Welsh Vote Leave Staffer:
It’s no secret that Wales has consistently underperformed compared to other parts of the UK when it comes to education, whether that’s using PISA results or any other measurement. State comprehensive schools throughout the UK suffer from mutual issues such as class sizes being too large, budgets being too small, or the many social issues that pupils sometimes bring into the classroom with them. Welsh schools are no exception, until you factor in how the Welsh Government spends roughly £100 less per pupil than their English counterparts (IFS, 2018).
This disparity in funding and the academic progress of pupils means that Welsh schools are already dealing with a much more difficult situation than schools elsewhere in the UK. The one saving grace of all separate state education systems in the UK is that a number of pupils are taken out of the state system and attend private or independent schools. Although it is only a small number who are educated privately, it removes some of the stress on state education by lowering numbers and allowing teachers to deal with smaller class sizes.
This isn’t the Victorian-era anymore and private schools often have a greater mix of pupils than just those of rich and middle-class backgrounds, especially when scholarships or discount schemes are taken into account. Most arguments for abolishing private education stem from a kind of reverse-snobbery and hold little basis for their claim of it being a good policy. The Labour Party’s recent flirtation with the idea is no different.
Although there’s a tonne of solid reasons for keeping private education, none can be more appropriate for Wales than the Welsh Government’s own state education system. Overstretched, underfunded and underperforming, it would be a social injustice to throw even more pupils into the state system, purely in the name of Socialism. As well as being unfair for pupils being moved from private to state schools, it would have the same negative effects on pupils already in the state system. State classrooms would increase in size and pupils who were already struggling would have an even harder time to be noticed.
The idea that anyone would really benefit from abolishing private education is hard to justify in the best of scenarios, but when the only alternative is an already struggling state-run system, it becomes more than just economically unfair.