Head's concern over independent school comments


Chris Keating, headteacher at Davison CE High School for Girls, got in touch regarding the article 'Headteacher predicts rush to independent sector', which was published on February 1.

Mr Keating wrote:

I would respectfully like to respond to the comments made by Kathryn Bell, headteacher of Burgess Hill Girls Independent School.

I am the headteacher of a maintained girls' secondary school in West Sussex. I am also a participant in, and supporter of, the 'Worth Less?' campaign, which has been well documented in your newspaper.

I believe that I speak on behalf of the members of our campaign in outlining my concerns regarding Kathryn Bell's prediction of a 'rush to the independent sector'.

Mrs Bell's comments were made as a result of the proposed strike action being considered by members of governing bodies associated with our campaign.

I feel that publicly outlining the 'big advantages' of private education, within the context of our campaign for fairer funding, is unnecessarily opportunistic at a time when Mrs Bell's state-school colleagues are doing everything possible to ensure a high quality education for all students in West Sussex.

The core purpose of our campaign is to raise awareness of, and act upon, the grossly unfair funding formula currently disadvantaging students in West Sussex state schools.

Headteachers of primary and secondary schools have been united in a campaign to address this disadvantage since 2015. Taking such a stance has resulted in an incredible amount of work being undertaken by members of the campaign.

We have also seen unprecedented shows of support from parents, students and local MP's within this time.

We feel that we have already achieved some degree of success in expediting the government's resolve to find a fairer formula and will continue until we feel that a fair resolution, for our students, has been achieved.

We would most certainly welcome the support of colleagues from the independent sector in raising awareness and feel disappointed that Mrs Bell seems to infer that entry into her school is a solution to the effects of cuts and funding formulas.

There is no doubt that we would all make great use of the 'per-head' funding - currently averaging over £15,000 per annum for non-subsidised students aged 11 to 16 - which parents are expected to contribute at Burgess Hill Girls'.

We are not, however, requesting anything like that.

We believe that we can continue to deliver a very high-quality education if we are given the same access to levels of funding enjoyed by many other local authorities up and down the country.

An example of such quality can be found within three miles of Mrs Bell's school as St Paul's Catholic College is currently an outstanding school which features in the top 25 of national league tables for students with the same prior entry data.

There are also many other examples of good and outstanding schools within a three-mile radius. I am sure I speak for the headteachers of those schools when I assure all prospective future parents that we, as a collective group of state school headteachers, will continue to work tirelessly for the good of all the students in our county.