Free school founder Toby Young: “I want to put some private schools out of business”

Toby Young, the journalist and founder of the West London Free School, has said he wants to “put some private schools out of business” by offering a better alternative.

Speaking at the Independent Schools Show in London last weekend, Mr Young said he was trying to persuade parents that “they would be wasting their money if they sent [their children] to independent schools”.

He said evidence suggested privately educated pupils did not earn sufficiently higher salaries, compared with those educated in the state sector, to justify the costs of private education.

“My object is to put some private schools out of business – not all, but some – by persuading parents that their children would be better off, and they would be wasting their money if they sent them to independent schools,” he said.

He added that he did not want private schools to be abolished or to lose their charitable status, which brings tax breaks, because he wanted state schools to beat private schools “on a level playing field”.

“I want to be able to show parents that actually, all things being equal, their children would be better off at a good state school than even at a good independent school,” Mr Young said.

In response, Jim Hawkins, head master of Harrow and another speaker at the event, disputed Mr Young’s statistics and said an independent education was not just about academic results and earning power but also helping children to become “the great adults of the future”.

“I think the future holds independent and state excellence,” Mr Hawkins said.

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