Brown Faces in Private Spaces

Magdalene Mills
3 min readJun 22, 2021

So, a few months ago I was asked to participate in a potential documentary about the experiences of black girls and their parents in private schools. I know from a few friends of mine who had been schooled privately that there were incidents of racism, including from teachers, feelings of ‘other’ and in extreme cases bullying be it physical or mental.

Personally, I am only two years into my private school experience, as a parent and although my daughter is only in early years, (Nursery/Reception) this has been the best start for her. I wanted an environment that was caring, interesting, loving, but also able to push and challenge her. Before I really understood the school system, I had been of the thought that private schools were only for a certain elite group, but now, unpopular opinion, I believe, for black children, private schools are the only way to go.

I have worked in state schools, 25–30+ children in a class, one teacher and maybe one underpaid teaching assistant. On my last count, there were 16 children in my daughter’s class. One class teacher and two, sometimes three teaching assistants or support staff. Not including the PE, Music, French and Mandarin teachers.

I know, money! Some would argue if the state schools had all this money they could offer the same and be just as great… possibly. But I know of a few state schools, without the money private schools have, but produce excellent results and attainments for their pupils. However, the key thing I have noticed in many state schools has nothing to do with money. It’s the atmosphere, but particularly the atmosphere towards and for learning. There is little to no low-level disruptions at my daughter's school, which any teacher will tell you, is the most time consuming of all undesirable learning behaviours. Competitiveness is still encouraged, so children are generally trying to be better or the best! There is respect for the school as an institution, so the pupils and parents alike behave accordingly. Only the best is expected and in return received.

Now think about the lack of funding our state schools have been receiving for years, decades from our government. What type of message does that send? How do think the government views schools and the education system? Is that a respected institution with respected professionals?

Black people know all too well about the challenges, struggles and shortcomings of the UK education system, as they have disproportionately been failed by it for many years. So, given the choice, I believe we should all choose to be more assured that our children are getting the best education, that our voices and concerns will be heard and dealt with efficiently, which is something even today we are still not receiving. (In one month two headteachers have found their schools being scrutinised for unfair, disproportionate treatment of black students)

From approximately £65 a day, per term time only, depending on the school of your choice, you could give your child what they deserve… The Best, with many also offering scholarships and fee assistants. Can we really afford not to?

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Magdalene Mills

An emotive writer, hailing from the British concrete jungle. I hate injustice and still believe ‘good’, will eventually prevail.