Parents of private school pupils ‘must cope with huge sense of guilt’

Fee paying parents are too embarrassed to tell others they paid for a top education

Mums and dads of private school students have a huge “sense of guilt” according to a top education expert. 

Matthew Smith, the editor of private schools magazine Attain claimed people are embarrassed about where they go to school or where they send their kids.

And apparently they avoid talking about fee paying schools with friends because they’re scared of being seen as “aloof”.

Matthew told the Evening Standard: “It’s an issue which is seldom discussed yet for many parents remains a huge elephant in the room.

“They are careful work about who knows and who doesn’t, for fear that they will be judged through the spectrum of envy or prejudice, perceived as being aloof for sending their children to a posh school full of rich kids.”


Matthew Smith says there’s a lot of shame surrounding private school

He added: “The fact education is so closely associated with the old-fashioned shackles of class is an inescapable truth in British society.

“Easy stereotypes abound and as a result many independent school parents feel a huge sense of guilt.”

Matthew said  the decision to send someone, or even go to private school became more controversial when friends go to state schools.

What’s more, for people who “live in a street or small community where not every child goes to private school, the decision is potentially extremely divisive”, he added.

“What’s wrong with the local primary? Isn’t it good enough for your child?

“Is your child better than everyone else?”


Education experts think private school and state school pupils don’t mix in later life

But not everybody agreed that they should be ashamed of sending their children to private school.

Jas Saran Brar sent two children to fee paying institutions. One is currently at Bristol while the other has now graduated from Durham.

She told The Tab: “The emphasis that private schools put on extra curricular activities is amazing.

“It means that my children had access to some fantastic opportunities that I never had.

“It’s only shameful if you don’t make full use of these opportunities.”

However this isn’t the first time the apparent shame of going to private school has been discussed.

Dr Lee Elliot Major, chief executive of the Sutton Trust, which aims to address educational equality told Attain: “There is a guilt and suspicion.

“It’s quite sad. I see friends who don’t talk about the subject – it’s not spoken about in the pub.

“And it’s both sides. My friends who have chosen private schools feel they are somehow not part of the community any more.

“But also in the state sector I’ve found people can become very loyal towards their own state school.

“Which state school you chose becomes a badge of honour – and people become so defensive about their choices you can’t have a normal conversation.”


People are defensive about which type of school they went to, according to Dr Lee

Dr Lee said the country is producing a generation from different backgrounds who refuse to talk to each other.

He added: “Some will go to certain schools, and end up going to certain universities or colleges then certain professions where you do not mix with people from different backgrounds.

“I do worry about that.”