I was lucky. My parents could not afford to send any of us to private schools, so we went to the local Welsh speaking junior school and comprehensive. It was lucky for me, as I had a very good education, was able to stay in my local community and at home with my mum, dad, nain, siblings, cats and dogs. I learned to play the piano, dabbled with the violin and oboe and competed in Eisteddfods, was in school plays and felt I went off to Cardiff University with a well rounded education and experience.
As well as my parents not having enough money for private education, they also believed in equality in provision of health and education. They wanted to invest in supporting the state services and to use their role as parents to improve education for us children, and for the wider community. They did not believe in a two tier provision of education in society – one for the rich, and one for the not so rich.
I know it would be impossible to stop private education and private health, despite my strong objections to their ethos. In Parliament, 34% of MPs have been at private schools, compared to 7% in the population. That is not their fault, as their parents made that decision. But many of them continue in the practice in sending their own children to private schools.
I will always campaign for education and health for everyone to be to the highest of standards, and will never believe or support private health and education. The author, Alan Bennett said in June 2014 “to educate according to ability, but according to the social situation of the parents, is both wrong and a waste” . I will continue to speak out against private health and private education.
Until the day comes when we get rid of Eton and other private schools, I do have one proposal which I don’t think is controversial. I think it is fairly simple too.
Money spent by taxpayers on training teachers, doctors, nurses and health workers who subsequently then go and work in the private sector should be paid back to the state. It costs around £600,000 to train a doctor to be a consultant, and £35,000 to train a teacher. For all the private schools and private hospitals, they simply calculate how many staff they have, work out how many leave every year, and pay back that money to the state. That will then go to help improve our hospitals and schools. That may mean that children who go to state schools have better facilities, more teachers, and more support to equalise out education outcomes. Now that has to be something that surely is indisputable?