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Engines of Privilege

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Engines of Privilege: Britain's Private School Problem
First edition
AuthorFrancis Green
David Kynaston
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing

Engines of Privilege: Britain's Private School Problem is a book by Francis Green and David Kynaston about Private schools in the United Kingdom.[1] The authors argue that the "educational apartheid"[2][3] of independent (private) schools and state schools in the United Kingdom:

  1. prevents social mobility and meritocracy
  2. underpins damaging democratic deficit
  3. perpetuates privilege (and social inequality) through generations[4]
  4. deploys national resources unfairly and suboptimally


Published in 2019, the book received a range of reviews from commentators inside and outside private schools.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12] Writing in the Financial Times, Miranda Green wrote, "we can expect the manifesto-writers at the next general election to pass magpie-like over these chapters ... The appeal to act is heartfelt."[13] Privately educated journalist Hugo Rifkind in The Times described the book as doing "a fine job of explaining and damning Britain's private school problem", but also commented that "this powerful attack on public schools ends up an unintended advert for them".[14][15]

Much of criticism of the book came from commentators who were educated independently, rather than in state schools, what the book calls private school lobbyists including members of the Independent Schools Council:

Anne McElvoy (state educated) wrote that the book "reminds us that many arguments recur down the decades".[18]


  1. ^ Green, Francis; Kynaston, David (2019). Engines of privilege : Britain's private school problem. London: Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-5266-0127-8. OCLC 1108696740.
  2. ^ Green, Francis; Kynaston, David (2019). "It is educational apartheid: are we finally ready to end private schools?". The Guardian – via theguardian.com. "in no other western society are private schools so deeply entrenched or so corrosive in their effects"—Francis Green and David Kynaston
  3. ^ Goodfellow, Maya (2019). "Should we abolish private schools?". The Guardian – via youtube.com.
  4. ^ Rajan, Amol (2019). "Why middle class kids get the best jobs - BBC Stories". youtube.com. BBC.
  5. ^ Steedman, Carolyn (2020). "Francis Green and David Kynaston, Engines of Privilege: Britain's Private School Problem". History Workshop Journal. 89: 288–293. doi:10.1093/hwj/dbaa008. ISSN 1363-3554. One of the explanations Green and Kynaston propose for a 150-year history of stalled, delayed, abandoned and half-hearted attempts to change Britain's peculiar system of private schooling is that most people just can't be bothered.
  6. ^ Turner, Janice (2019). "The 7 per cent problem: Public life in Britain is dominated by the privately educated". newstatesman.com. New Statesman.
  7. ^ Renton, Alex (2019). "Our public schools now resemble five-star hotels — with a Russian and Asian clientele". spectator.co.uk. The Spectator.
  8. ^ "Engines of Privilege: Britain". lse.ac.uk. London School of Economics and Political Science. 2019.
  9. ^ Goldstone, Ross (2019). "Engines of privilege: Britain's public school problem". British Journal of Educational Studies. 68: 131–133. doi:10.1080/00071005.2019.1682278. ISSN 0007-1005. S2CID 210373241.
  10. ^ Hillman, Nick (2019). "Review of 'Engines of Privilege: Britain's Private School Problem'". hepi.ac.uk. Higher Education Policy Institute. This is a superb book
  11. ^ Pearson, Allison (2019). "The idea of paying school fees is slowly becoming absurd". The Daily Telegraph – via telegraph.co.uk.
  12. ^ Goldstone, Ross (2019). "Book Review: Engines of Privilege: Britain's Private School Problem by Francis Green and David Kynaston". blogs.lse.ac.uk.
  13. ^ Green, Miranda (2019). "What to do about Britain's private school problem?". ft.com. London: Financial Times.
  14. ^ Rifkind, Hugo (2019). "Review: Engines of Privilege: Britain's Private School Problem by Francis Green and David Kynaston — unjust, elitist; please let my kids in". thetimes.co.uk. London: The Times.
  15. ^ Anderson, David (2020). "Social justice and schools: Resources & funding". sec-ed.co.uk.
  16. ^ Clanchy, Kate (2019). "Engines of Privilege review – a challenge to Britain's private schools?". The Guardian – via theguardian.com.
  17. ^ Derham, Patrick (2019). "Book review – Engines of Privilege: Britain's Private School Problem". Times Educational Supplement – via tes.com.
  18. ^ McElvoy, Anne (January 31, 2019). "Two leading academics on how Britain should educate children". Evening Standard. London – via standard.co.uk.