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German banker slams English boarding schools as ‘disappointing’ and ‘deceptive’

A German banker has slammed England’s top boarding schools, claiming that parents could be paying high fees for education that is below the standard of free schooling in Germany.

Arnold Holle, 50, an investment banker from Dusseldorf, who has lived in Primrose Hill, north west London for the past 21 years criticised the education provided by top public schools in England despite their large fees.

He also accused them of cloistering students in environments of wealth and entitlement.

In an article for the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung headlined “Top English boarding schools disappoint”, Holle wrote that despite English boarding schools having a reputation for being “paradisiacal” and “advantageous” his conclusion, after paying what he says is nearly a “seven-figure sum” into the English private school system, is that “not everything that glitters is gold, not by a long chalk.”

“[A]ppearances are deceptive:” said Holle, “even at the top English boarding schools, children don’t learn more than in Germany, probably less.”

Arnold Holle, 50Holle, who is a managing director at investment bank Piper Jaffray’s London office, has two 18-year old twin sons and a younger son who attended, The Hall, a leading boys prep school in Belsize Park, north west London which charges fees of over £5,800 a term.

The boys carried on their studies at Sevenoaks School, another top private school in Kent with fees of over £11,000 a term, and at Westminster School, which charges over £11,600 a term and boasts alumni such as Tony Benn, Nick Clegg, Henry Purcell and Christopher Wren.

The German banker also criticised the prestigious schools for enveloping their students in spheres of affluence and privilege saying: “Learning less and paying a lot is one thing. Much worse, however, is that even a short stay in an English boarding school will lead to children losing any respect for money.”

In conclusion, he wrote: “[N]o other Western country makes it more difficult for its underclass to rise upwards. 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.”

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Despite misgivings that his children would not be able to experience a Dusseldorf education Holle told the Telegraph: “I want my kids to be British first and foremost and if sending them to private school is what it takes to give them the best chance, I don’t want to rob them of an opportunity there.”

In response to Holle’s comments the Robin Fletcher, National Director of the Boarding School’s Association told theIndependent: “Parents choose UK boarding schools because they are widely regarded as being among the best schools in the world.”

“Arnold Holle’s remarks about the British boarding system are narrow and do not represent the 500 independent and state schools in the sector.  Parents can choose between a wide range of schools with different offerings including fees (state boarding school fees range between £9,000-£12,000 per year, independent boarding school fees range between £18,000-£30,000 per year), facilities and academic selection.”

“While a proportion of students within boarding schools do come from a privileged background, there is a more diverse student population within the sector than described by Mr Holle.  Many students are from families where both parents work and sacrifice other luxuries in order to provide the educational experience for their children.”

“Alongside this, there are a large number of pupils attending boarding schools who receive financial help from scholarships and bursaries.  A number of charities also work within the sector such as The Royal National Children’s Foundation, Buttle UK and Springboard to assist pupils, many of whom are classed as on the edge of care.”

Holle’s comments come after reports that the cost of sending a child through private education has soared to £286,000 meaning fees have more than trebled since 1990 and continue to rise above inflation.


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