Confidence and the "arms race" between independent schools | Portsmouth High School

Confidence and the “arms race” between independent schools

Mr Andrew Halls, headmaster of King’s College School, London, wrote on Monday in the Times of the over confidence of some privately educated pupils. He said that society is “asphyxiated” by the bullish nature of these people. At the same time the actor Damian Lewis reflected that his time at Eton was the perfect place to prepare for his next role as Henry VIII.

Clearly Mr Halls doesn’t have pupils in his school like I have in mine. No one could accuse the sixth form of being a damage to society. They have raised a fantastic amount – we think in the region of £7000 – for their charity week. This money is raised entirely through their own efforts and they all have a part to play whether that is on the cat walk at the fashion show or thinking of amusing topics for the staff “Just a Minute”. They manage themselves as a group ably led by our Head Girl team and are an example to society of well-adjusted young people who recognise their own good fortune in life and wish to help others. Equally I was impressed by the impromptu Year 11 nativity play put on for parents at their drinks party. Written and produced by Lark Sexton, it was funny and moving and most importantly the girls had so much fun taking part. It is another example of confidence in our pupils and one that you hope for in your daughter.

And talking of confidence the pre-prep nativity oozed confidence as these very young girls danced, sang and spoke so eloquently and clearly through their performance. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Mr Halls also referred to the “arms race” between independent schools that produces extravagant facilities and pushes school fees beyond the purse of many people. I am fortunate that the Trust, in the main, pay for our refurbishment and our fees pretty much are spent on the education of the girls with the greatest slice going towards providing outstanding teaching by recruiting excellent staff and having smaller groups. It would be so easy to be tempted to start to compete with other independent schools in the battle for the best buildings but I am only too aware that exorbitant facilities need to be paid for and we have a very good standard of accommodation which provides very well for the pupils. The girls at PHS are too savvy to be only attracted by new shiny chrome and glossy paint.

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