A new two-part documentary – on ITV at 9pm tonight - features a comprehensive headteacher and three pupils swapping with their private counterparts to find out if public schools give you a first-class advantage, and whether a state education really means second-rate.
I am really interested in what it is in the private schools which is leading to those more high prestige careers, because if there is something I can replicate here, I’d like to do that. And I like to think that they might learn one or two things from us as well.”
I think that what the independent sector delivers is superb, it’s rightly regarded as just about the best education in the world. If every school in the country focused on what the independent sector focuses on, then I think frankly we’d be sorted.”
In a unique experiment Jo Ward, the head of 700-pupil state secondary Bemrose School in Derby, takes three of her pupils - Brett, Nazh and Qasim – to meet Mark Mortimer, who runs 400-pupil Warminster School, a private boarding establishment, and three of his own pupils - Xander, Katy and Jon.
With GCSE A to C grade pass rates of under 50 per cent and an admissions policy that means more than half of new students don’t speak English as their first language, Bemrose could be said to be a typical urban comprehensive. And with annual boarding fees of more than £27,000 and a dozen tennis courts, Warminster fits the perception of many fee-paying independent schools.
This programme provides a close insight into the perceived educational gulf between the two schools, the attitudes of the students and their teachers towards each other, and asks whether a private education is a ticket to a top job later in life.
School Swap – The Class Divide is on ITV at 9pm