With school admissions well underway, the debate about whether you should send children to private or state school is – as ever – on the table.
This year Wandsworth Council has come under fire for providing leaflets that “encourage” parents to send their children to private schools outside the borough.
The council produces a leaflet ‘Choose an Independent School’ alongside its main ‘Choose a Wandsworth Secondary School’ brochure.
This includes schools such as Dulwich College where termly fees are nearly £14,000.
But one councillor thinks this is unfair and “suggests a different world for a certain number of people.”
Labour Cllr Aydin Dirkerdem, who supports the national party’s Abolish Eton campaign, said he came across the document last week when looking into Wandsworth private schools and their relationship with business rates with the council.
He said: “I was fairly shocked by it, but at the same time I’m not shocked because I’ve grown up in Wandsworth, and it’s precisely the kind of thing that Wandsworth does.”
He said the brochure advertised “big London private schools” like Dulwich College “that aren’t in the borough or particularly close to our borough.
“It’s very strange to me that a local authority would be kind of like promoting that, and that class culture,” he said.
The council said the independent school brochure has been produced alongside the Wandsworth secondary school leaflet for more than 20 years, and while it is a Wandsworth Council initiative, it is wholly funded by the schools inside it.
In 2019 23.2 per cent of children educated in Wandsworth attended a private school. That’s 10,465 out of 44,921 pupils in total.
A spokesperson for Wandsworth Council defended the brochure and said: “The council is not saying one is better than the other or parents should choose one or the other.
“It is for parents to have a look at so they can make the best choice for their children.
“Some parents may find these schools are better suited to their children than state schools on offer.“We are providing parents with as much information as they need for them to make the right decision for their child. The council believes in promoting choice, and this is one of the most important decisions a parent will make.”
Photo: Wandsworth Council. Credit - LDR Sian Bayley