Work Doesn’t Pay

kids and money

It would seem that the head of an elite private school has made an attempt to get the government to continue to punish people who work. Far from rewarding those parents who have managed to get a decent wage for themselves in these tough economic times, Dr Seldon wants to take more money from them. In brief, his plan is to charge parents - who earn a high wage - fees for sending their kids to state schools.

Yes although it may seem completely mad to many people, this man who is the headmaster of the Wellington College in Berkshire and charges £11,000 fees per year, thinks that people who earn over £80,000 per year should be charged fees for sending their kids to state schools. His argument is that middle class parents dominate the best state schools by buying up all the houses in areas with the best schools. As such, the poorest children are stuck in the areas with the bad schools and so social mobility has stalled.

Dr Seldon believes that people earning over £200,000 per year should pay £20,000 per year to send their children to state schools and £15,000 per year for primary school. There is some logic to his argument as just 3% of the pupils at the country’s grammar schools come from the poorest homes. There is also no denying that many areas such as Tunbridge Wells have become amazingly expensive due in part to the quality of the schools there. In his words “We have to end this unfair farce whereby middle-class parents dominate the best schools, when they could afford to pay, and even boast of their moral superiority in using the state system when all they are doing is squeezing out the poor from the best schools,”. Indeed his idea is to try to bridge the gap and improve state schools with the money raised. There is some method in his madness.

However, his argument falls apart when you look at the school catchment system and economics in depth. The fact of the matter is that the houses in those areas have become so expensive that if people were forced to pay fees as well then many would not be able to afford their mortgages. The reason that a lot of people move to areas with good schools is to avoid private school fees, but in order to get this they have to get an expensive mortgage. Once you add fees into that equation, you would completely destroy many people’s finances and leave them in a financial mess.

Houses cost on average £31,500 more near the top 30 state schools in the UK; in some cases the difference in price can be as much as £100,000 or more to be within the catchment area of a top school. This is a massive difference and even if someone earned £200,000 they may have problems paying £20,000 fees for two or three children if they have a massive mortgage as well.

The other problem of course is that these so called wealthy people are already contributing a huge amount of their income in tax to fund the schools. If they paid fees then they would effectively be paying for their own and children’s education. This cannot be fair especially for those who are not earning hundreds of thousands of pounds and have huge mortgages. Will the government fund their children going to University when they can’t afford to send them because they have had to pay fees for their whole education? I think not. What does Dr Seldon say about that?

What Dr Seldon is advocating here is punishing those people who have managed to succeed in life. Many of those wealthy people are actually products of social mobility. Why should nearly all the money that you earn if you manage to get a decent wage have to go back to the system. There is no point succeeding in life if people like this headmaster are advocating taking it all away from you once you actually manage to succeed. The next step will probably be asking people who work to pay for NHS treatment. Surely this is not a communist state, yet. If the government listens to this man then we might as well all start going on the dole because it does seem to become clearer and clearer that work doesn’t pay.