Private boarding schools in London

German expat banker tells countrymen: don't send your kids to British private schools

“It is said time and time again, how paradisiacal and in every respect advantageous English boarding schools are, ” he wrote.

“My conclusion so far: not everything that glitters is gold, not by a long chalk. ”

Considering the great sums of money parents fork out in the expectation of a top-quality education, Mr Holle said students at the UK’s top boarding schools fare little better, if at all, than receiving a free education in Germany.

Arnold Holle (Facebook)

“The great strength of the English schools and students is the self-presentation, ” said Mr Holle, a managing director at the London office of investment bank Piper Jaffray. “But appearances are deceptive: even at the top English boarding schools, children don’t learn more than in Germany, probably less.

Mr Holle’s 18-year-old twin sons and a younger son all attended The Hall, a leading boys prep school in Belsize Park, north west London, which commands fees of almost £6, 000 a term.

The twins went on to study at Sevenoaks School, another of the UK’s top independent schools, where boarding fees exceed £11, 000 a term. His daughter is at Westminster School, alma mater of Nick Clegg, AA Milne and Sir Christopher Wren, which charges similar fees.

The German banker also criticised the country’s boarding schools for cocooning students in a world of wealth and privilege.

Private school pupils (Alamy)

“Learning less and paying a lot is one thing, ” he wrote. “Much worse, however, is that even a short stay in an English boarding school will lead to children losing any respect for money. How many chauffeurs are waiting today at parents' evenings in Germany in dark limousines at the school gate? In England there’s a lot.

“And on the last day before the autumn holidays, the plane from Heathrow to Mauritius always has a handful of students from "The Hall" on board. In addition, there are virtually no scholarship recipients at English boarding schools.”

In summary, he writes, “for parents in Germany, there are, in my opinion, better alternatives than a long stay in an English boarding school.

“But for our children, who have Westminster as the birthplace in each of their three passports, but feel primarily British, English boarding schools are the lesser evil. And we parents hand over the tussle over schoolwork, computer games, condoms and hashish pipes gladly for huge sums to the professionals.”

“All in all, no other Western country makes it more difficult for its underclass to rise upwards. The social injustice here in London cry out to the heavens. The school system is one of the main reasons that not only social mobility persists at a low level, but continues to decline every year.”

Mr Holle told the Telegraph that the purpose of his article was to “disabuse” people of the “fantastical notions” being circulated in Germany about the benefits of English public schools.

When asked why he decided to send his children to private schools in England, the banker explained that his wife’s American passport meant there were three nationalities in his family, replying: “I want my kids to be British first and foremost and if sending to private school is what it takes to give them the best chance, I don't want to rob them of an opportunity there.

"I want to send my kids to the best schools, end of story."

However, he told the Telegraph he regretted that his children won’t be able to share his own school experiences in Dusseldorf of meeting people from all walks of life.

“I was with people whose parents were on television every night and other people where their father was manning a gas station till, ” he said “That's an experience my son will never have. There's too few people in his school whose parents have a normal salary.

"My schooling provided me with an insight into how the other half lives. My kids don't get an insight into how the other half lives in their school. If they were in a German school they would have the chance to have an empathy for people whose parents don't send their children to Mauritius for the holidays."

Would Mr Holle take his own advice on board about thinking twice before sending his children to an English boarding school if he and his family lived in Germany?

"Would I send them to the UK for a year? Maybe, ” he said. “But with open eyes, and it would only be for a year."

Robin Fletcher, National Director of the Boarding Schools' Association said: "Parents choose UK boarding schools because they are widely regarded as being among the best schools in the world.

"At the heart of every boarding school is the philosophy to ensure that each child is happy, thrives and succeeds, regardless of their interests or talents. You can be certain that all boarding schools seek to help pupils achieve their full potential.


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