School head under fire for analogy comparing criticism of fee-paying schools to anti-Semitism
Anthony Wallersteiner, head of the Stowe school in Buckinghamshire, UK, claimed that students from independent, fee-paying schools were unfairly losing out on places at Oxford and Cambridge universities at the expense of their state-educated counterparts, in an interview with the Times newspaper. He added that many fee-paying parents were now accusing Oxbridge admissions offices of “social engineering” and positive discrimination by limiting the number of successful privately-educated applicants.
Wallersteiner's most controversial comment came, however, in his analogy likening criticism of the private education sector to anti-Semitism. “The rise of populists and polemicists has created a micro-industry in bashing private schools,” he said before noting that their criticisms echoed the “conspiratorial language” found in the notorious fabricated anti-Semitic text, 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion'. He added that it was easy for Hitler and the Nazis to suggest that Germany's Jewish minority was overrepresented in key jobs such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, and creatives.Also on rt.com Discriminate against Etonians, says Ex-Tory Education Secretary Justine Greening
He then suggested that privately-educated pupils in Britain also faced the accusation of “dominating the top jobs and stifling social mobility” before calling it “too facile to stereotype groups and ignore the fact that lawyers, doctors, writers and politicians are individuals.”
However, Wallersteiner's comments were met with criticism that ranged from calling them “idiotic” to pointing out that the situation in reality is the opposite.
“It's surprisingly rare to find a comment so ludicrous, so offensive and so idiotic,” tweeted Stephen Pollard, editor of the UK's Jewish Chronicle newspaper. “You genuinely wonder how the person who made it can possibly survive in their job.”
It's surprisingly rare to find a comment so ludicrous, so offensive and so idiotic that you genuinely wonder how the person who made it can possibly survive in their job. This is one of them. The idea that private school pupils are demonised as Jews were by the Nazis... pic.twitter.com/Q9sSiMRzf8— Stephen Pollard (@stephenpollard) May 11, 2019
Others who found the comparison ludicrous also took issue with Wallersteiner's claims of “social engineering,” noting how the UK's top universities have for years been overrepresented by privately-educated applicants. Labour MP David Lammy pointed out that social engineering is in fact not benefiting state school kids.
Can someone please fetch Mr Wallersteiner the world's tiniest violin? 7% of all UK pupils attend private schools - but they get 42% of Oxbridge places. There is social engineering going on here, but it's not benefitting state school kids. https://t.co/2KGRYpLzHD— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) May 11, 2019
The assertion of Dr Wallersteiner is that the relative decrease in private Oxbridge access is due to "access & participation plans".He offers no evidence for this, but undermines his credibility with 4th para.Conjecture: state schools are improving, and private schools not.— etymologic (@etymologic) May 10, 2019
Later this month my youngest will be going to visit Oxford with his state senior school @thornhill_uk. Its a good thing that our Northern schools have faith in their pupils abilities. Wallersteiner should concentrate on educating his students rather than creating a class divide.— Maria Barnes (@MariaBarnes6) May 11, 2019
Maybe Dr Wallersteiner throwing money at a fancy school shouldn't entitle your students to a place at Oxbridge? And maybe don't compare widening participation to Hitler? pic.twitter.com/hOKI1C1rgR— Evie Aspinall (@evie_aspinall) May 11, 2019
Or.... translated.....Anthony Wallersteiner is twitchy about the schools bank account because fewer entitled and privileged white students are going to Oxbridge and this will not look so good on the 'University destinations' information tab on the schools website— Bambuca (@Sambuca10440145) May 11, 2019
If I was Dr Wallersteiner I’d be more concerned about the fees-to-grades performance of his (£12,697 per term) school pic.twitter.com/CzvYYF7Wsk— tom (@MOOMISM) May 11, 2019
And is that Dr Wallersteiner's real concern: that less successful private schools can't buy their way in, quite as easily as might have been the case? Surely if he is in favour of a meritocracy over social engineering - this should please him.— Margaret Casely-Hayford CBE (@MCaselyHayford) May 11, 2019
The furor over upward mobility and the UK's education system is nothing new. Last May, ex-Tory Education Secretary Justine Greening ruffled her party colleague's feathers by suggesting at an event by the education charity Sutton Trust that state school-educated pupils should be hired by companies over Eton-educated pupils with the same grades. In December, a report by the charity slammed Oxbridge for “over recruiting” from eight private schools. The schools provided Oxbridge colleges with 1,310 students over three years. The same period saw just 1,220 students recruited from 2,900 other schools.
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