Some criticisms of private schools ‘echo’ anti-Semitism, says Stowe headteacher

Some of the criticisms of private schools and the elite “echo the conspiratorial language” of anti-Semitism, a leading head teacher has said.

Anthony Wallersteiner, of £12,000-a-term Stowe School, also claimed a decline in the number of non-state school Oxbridge admissions had left some parents making claims about “social engineering”.

He told The Times that “the rise of populists and polemicists has created a micro-industry in bashing private schools”.

Dr Wallersteiner, who is of Jewish descent, went on: “Some of the criticisms echo the conspiratorial language of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

“It was relatively easy for Hitler and his henchmen to suggest that the Jewish minority was over-represented in key professions: medicine, law, teaching and the creative industries.

“Privately-educated pupils in the UK are also being accused of dominating the top jobs and stifling social mobility …  it is all too facile to stereotype groups and ignore the fact that lawyers, doctors, writers and politicians are individuals.”

Reacting to his comments, a spokesman for the Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Tasteless Holocaust analogies do not belong in the debate about education in this country.”

Anthony Wallersteiner comments
Stowe School in Buckinghamshire (Chris Radburn/PA)

He added: “Nazi propaganda against Jews was used to generate  public support not only for exclusion from education but also for brutal beatings, boycotts, degradation and eventually the mass murder of six million Jewish men, women and children.”

Boarding fees at Stowe School in Buckinghamshire cost more £12,697 a term, with its website describing the school as “unique”and in “the most sublime setting”.

Dr Wallersteiner told The Times that many parents have been making claims about positive discrimination and their children being edged out of Oxbridge.

He said there has been a “much more concerted effort” by admissions tutors at Oxford and Cambridge to reduce the number of places awarded to independent schools and “redress the balance and put in contextual details”.

A 1.4% rise in 5 years in state school kids getting into Oxbridge and the parents of private school kids fear social engineering! Is The Times having a laugh? That’s 40 kids – 1 per college.

— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) May 11, 2019

Analysis by social mobility charity The Sutton Trust published in December showed eight private schools sent 1,310 pupils to Oxbridge over three years, while over the same period, 2,894 other schools sent just 1,220 students between them.

According to The Times, of the school leavers awarded a place at Cambridge in 2017, 64.1% were from state schools compared to 61.4% in 2013.

During the same period for Oxford, the figure rose from 56.8% to 58.2%.

Reacting to the story, Labour MP David Lammy tweeted: “A 1.4% rise in five years in state school kids getting into Oxbridge and the parents of private school kids fear social engineering! Is the Times having a laugh? That’s 40 kids per one college.”

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