York head teacher John Tomsett loses Oxford debate

Huntington School head John Tomsett

Huntington School head John Tomsett

First published in News

A YORK head teacher argued passionately against private schooling but lost the vote when he spoke at the world-renowned Oxford Union.

As reported in The Press last week, Huntington School head John Tomsett followed in the footsteps of Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama in speaking at the union. He debated the motion “This house believes private schools do more harm than good.”

Mr Tomsett, who is on the steering committee of the York independent-state school partnership, and is an advocate of bridging the independent-state school divide, took up the argument against private schools, but lost the debate by 78 votes to 60.

In his speech, he said: “Private schools produce some wonderful people and truly great leaders. That’s not for debate. And those great figures have contributed a huge amount of good to this country.

“Even if you just take York, my home city, the roll call is pretty impressive – Christopher Hill, Joseph Rowntree, Judi Dench, Margaret Drabble and – perhaps slightly less nobly – good old Guy Fawkes are all alumni of York’s private schools... the thing is, I believe a system of private education does something more pernicious: it separates a privileged elite from the rest of us, with some devastating consequences.

I see the harmful impact of the vast divide between rich and poor manifest itself starkly in my job as head teacher of Huntington, the largest school in York. It is a truly comprehensive school. We have the full range of students, from professors’ daughters to students from some of the worst socio-economic backgrounds in the country. Proper poverty.

“As the gap between the rich and poor widens, I see more students on free school meals, more students whose parents buy second-hand uniform and more parents who need financial support for school trips.

“In one of the most unequal societies in the developed world, it is tougher than it has ever been for a council house boy like me to make it to the top of the professions.

“And in the biggest school in York, a wealthy city in the sixth biggest economy in the world, when it rains hard, we put out 17 buckets to catch the water because the roof leaks and I can’t afford to repair it.”

Mr Tomsett was chosen to take part in the debate because of his work on The Head Teacher’s Roundtable - the non-party political group who at the beginning of May this year launched an educational manifesto - one year before the General Election.

The Oxford Union was founded in 1823 to protect and uphold the principles of freedom of speech and has grown to become the most prestigious student society in the world.

Comments (21)

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9:34am Sat 14 Jun 14

Pmlwdw says...

Poor Mr Tomsett........ He seems to make a habit of losing things. First he lost his school's "outstanding" status and now he has lost a debate.

Fortunately for him, his talent for self publicity remains "outstanding".
Poor Mr Tomsett........ He seems to make a habit of losing things. First he lost his school's "outstanding" status and now he has lost a debate. Fortunately for him, his talent for self publicity remains "outstanding". Pmlwdw
  • Score: -4

10:10am Sat 14 Jun 14

Stevie D says...

Huntington School has never been given "outstanding" by Ofsted, so it hasn't lost that status ... and to be fair, going into the Oxford Union and arguing against private schools is always going to be an unwinnable battle ... it would be like a Tory MP standing in Sheffield, no matter how good they were, they could never realistically hope to win ... to lose by only 60–78 is an impressive score in that context!
Huntington School has never been given "outstanding" by Ofsted, so it hasn't lost that status ... and to be fair, going into the Oxford Union and arguing against private schools is always going to be an unwinnable battle ... it would be like a Tory MP standing in Sheffield, no matter how good they were, they could never realistically hope to win ... to lose by only 60–78 is an impressive score in that context! Stevie D
  • Score: 27

10:13am Sat 14 Jun 14

Pmlwdw says...

Stevie D wrote:
Huntington School has never been given "outstanding" by Ofsted, so it hasn't lost that status ... and to be fair, going into the Oxford Union and arguing against private schools is always going to be an unwinnable battle ... it would be like a Tory MP standing in Sheffield, no matter how good they were, they could never realistically hope to win ... to lose by only 60–78 is an impressive score in that context!
Fair enough. Well he hasn't won it then!

And to be fair.....plenty of Tories have represented sheffield seats.
[quote][p][bold]Stevie D[/bold] wrote: Huntington School has never been given "outstanding" by Ofsted, so it hasn't lost that status ... and to be fair, going into the Oxford Union and arguing against private schools is always going to be an unwinnable battle ... it would be like a Tory MP standing in Sheffield, no matter how good they were, they could never realistically hope to win ... to lose by only 60–78 is an impressive score in that context![/p][/quote]Fair enough. Well he hasn't won it then! And to be fair.....plenty of Tories have represented sheffield seats. Pmlwdw
  • Score: -7

11:08am Sat 14 Jun 14

MrsHudson says...

Huntington got a great Ofsted report last time round and it's a well led school providing kids with a good education. At Oxford an anti public schools motion was always going to be a loser. John Tomsett did well. I might buy him another bucket.
Huntington got a great Ofsted report last time round and it's a well led school providing kids with a good education. At Oxford an anti public schools motion was always going to be a loser. John Tomsett did well. I might buy him another bucket. MrsHudson
  • Score: 25

11:24am Sat 14 Jun 14

Levelhead says...

I agree this man is a self publicist who should be getting on with what he is paid to do instead of polishing his own ego.
I agree this man is a self publicist who should be getting on with what he is paid to do instead of polishing his own ego. Levelhead
  • Score: -26

11:38am Sat 14 Jun 14

Badgers Drift says...

Mr Tomsett is uber political, and his leftist agenda is obvious.

I find his stance very worrying, and there is a danger that he takes these beliefs into his day job. Indoctrination of the young is a growing trend with the socialist factions in York, and needs to be closely watched.

Mr Tomsett's twitter follows betray his political connections with the cultural political elite of York.
Mr Tomsett is uber political, and his leftist agenda is obvious. I find his stance very worrying, and there is a danger that he takes these beliefs into his day job. Indoctrination of the young is a growing trend with the socialist factions in York, and needs to be closely watched. Mr Tomsett's twitter follows betray his political connections with the cultural political elite of York. Badgers Drift
  • Score: 245

1:10pm Sat 14 Jun 14

andyjon12 says...

Well done to Mr Tomsett, who is in a bloody good position to see the consequences of deep seated classism within our society. Therefore, his views and arguments should be seriously listened to.
Without doubt UK society is being handicapped and split due to middle class white males (mainly), implementing policy after policy that strengthens their own privileged positions.
Well done to Mr Tomsett, who is in a bloody good position to see the consequences of deep seated classism within our society. Therefore, his views and arguments should be seriously listened to. Without doubt UK society is being handicapped and split due to middle class white males (mainly), implementing policy after policy that strengthens their own privileged positions. andyjon12
  • Score: 50

1:30pm Sat 14 Jun 14

andyjon12 says...

Unfortunately, most of the comments on here suggest that "internalised" classism is absolutely alive and kicking here in York.
Unfortunately, most of the comments on here suggest that "internalised" classism is absolutely alive and kicking here in York. andyjon12
  • Score: 20

7:20pm Sat 14 Jun 14

nearlyman says...

Get over it Mr Tomsett. That is how society always has and always will be. You managed to climb the greasy pole despite your
alleged humble beginnings...no one shut the trap door on you. It is still open for those who wish to ascend.
Get over it Mr Tomsett. That is how society always has and always will be. You managed to climb the greasy pole despite your alleged humble beginnings...no one shut the trap door on you. It is still open for those who wish to ascend. nearlyman
  • Score: -10

9:18am Sun 15 Jun 14

Alf Garnett says...

Badgers Drift wrote:
Mr Tomsett is uber political, and his leftist agenda is obvious.

I find his stance very worrying, and there is a danger that he takes these beliefs into his day job. Indoctrination of the young is a growing trend with the socialist factions in York, and needs to be closely watched.

Mr Tomsett's twitter follows betray his political connections with the cultural political elite of York.
Good job that he isn't a muslim into the bargain then. All these devious lefties seeking to undermine our British Values.
[quote][p][bold]Badgers Drift[/bold] wrote: Mr Tomsett is uber political, and his leftist agenda is obvious. I find his stance very worrying, and there is a danger that he takes these beliefs into his day job. Indoctrination of the young is a growing trend with the socialist factions in York, and needs to be closely watched. Mr Tomsett's twitter follows betray his political connections with the cultural political elite of York.[/p][/quote]Good job that he isn't a muslim into the bargain then. All these devious lefties seeking to undermine our British Values. Alf Garnett
  • Score: 45

11:12am Sun 15 Jun 14

Bad magic says...

Badgers Drift wrote:
Mr Tomsett is uber political, and his leftist agenda is obvious.

I find his stance very worrying, and there is a danger that he takes these beliefs into his day job. Indoctrination of the young is a growing trend with the socialist factions in York, and needs to be closely watched.

Mr Tomsett's twitter follows betray his political connections with the cultural political elite of York.
Paranoid much?
[quote][p][bold]Badgers Drift[/bold] wrote: Mr Tomsett is uber political, and his leftist agenda is obvious. I find his stance very worrying, and there is a danger that he takes these beliefs into his day job. Indoctrination of the young is a growing trend with the socialist factions in York, and needs to be closely watched. Mr Tomsett's twitter follows betray his political connections with the cultural political elite of York.[/p][/quote]Paranoid much? Bad magic
  • Score: 24

11:55am Sun 15 Jun 14

MrChuckles says...

Pmlwdw wrote:
Stevie D wrote:
Huntington School has never been given "outstanding" by Ofsted, so it hasn't lost that status ... and to be fair, going into the Oxford Union and arguing against private schools is always going to be an unwinnable battle ... it would be like a Tory MP standing in Sheffield, no matter how good they were, they could never realistically hope to win ... to lose by only 60–78 is an impressive score in that context!
Fair enough. Well he hasn't won it then!

And to be fair.....plenty of Tories have represented sheffield seats.
Someone just doesn't get it.... facepalm
[quote][p][bold]Pmlwdw[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Stevie D[/bold] wrote: Huntington School has never been given "outstanding" by Ofsted, so it hasn't lost that status ... and to be fair, going into the Oxford Union and arguing against private schools is always going to be an unwinnable battle ... it would be like a Tory MP standing in Sheffield, no matter how good they were, they could never realistically hope to win ... to lose by only 60–78 is an impressive score in that context![/p][/quote]Fair enough. Well he hasn't won it then! And to be fair.....plenty of Tories have represented sheffield seats.[/p][/quote]Someone just doesn't get it.... facepalm MrChuckles
  • Score: 0

11:55am Sun 15 Jun 14

MrChuckles says...

Badgers Drift wrote:
Mr Tomsett is uber political, and his leftist agenda is obvious.

I find his stance very worrying, and there is a danger that he takes these beliefs into his day job. Indoctrination of the young is a growing trend with the socialist factions in York, and needs to be closely watched.

Mr Tomsett's twitter follows betray his political connections with the cultural political elite of York.
LOL ... sigh
[quote][p][bold]Badgers Drift[/bold] wrote: Mr Tomsett is uber political, and his leftist agenda is obvious. I find his stance very worrying, and there is a danger that he takes these beliefs into his day job. Indoctrination of the young is a growing trend with the socialist factions in York, and needs to be closely watched. Mr Tomsett's twitter follows betray his political connections with the cultural political elite of York.[/p][/quote]LOL ... sigh MrChuckles
  • Score: 0

11:58am Sun 15 Jun 14

MrChuckles says...

Alf Garnett wrote:
Badgers Drift wrote:
Mr Tomsett is uber political, and his leftist agenda is obvious.

I find his stance very worrying, and there is a danger that he takes these beliefs into his day job. Indoctrination of the young is a growing trend with the socialist factions in York, and needs to be closely watched.

Mr Tomsett's twitter follows betray his political connections with the cultural political elite of York.
Good job that he isn't a muslim into the bargain then. All these devious lefties seeking to undermine our British Values.
Someone evidently likes a slice of Daily Mail ... sorry, Daily Fail with their press!
[quote][p][bold]Alf Garnett[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Badgers Drift[/bold] wrote: Mr Tomsett is uber political, and his leftist agenda is obvious. I find his stance very worrying, and there is a danger that he takes these beliefs into his day job. Indoctrination of the young is a growing trend with the socialist factions in York, and needs to be closely watched. Mr Tomsett's twitter follows betray his political connections with the cultural political elite of York.[/p][/quote]Good job that he isn't a muslim into the bargain then. All these devious lefties seeking to undermine our British Values.[/p][/quote]Someone evidently likes a slice of Daily Mail ... sorry, Daily Fail with their press! MrChuckles
  • Score: 0

1:08pm Sun 15 Jun 14

eeoodares says...

How would people not sending their kids to a Private school fix the holes in his roof?
Perhaps if he visited some of the Private schools in York he would discover that the 'privileged ELITE' that send their kids their work at the railway and as prison warders.

You lost the debate because your arguments were flawed and poorly constructed.

Now get on with your job!
How would people not sending their kids to a Private school fix the holes in his roof? Perhaps if he visited some of the Private schools in York he would discover that the 'privileged ELITE' that send their kids their work at the railway and as prison warders. You lost the debate because your arguments were flawed and poorly constructed. Now get on with your job! eeoodares
  • Score: -2

2:08pm Sun 15 Jun 14

Badgers Drift says...

Bad magic wrote:
Badgers Drift wrote: Mr Tomsett is uber political, and his leftist agenda is obvious. I find his stance very worrying, and there is a danger that he takes these beliefs into his day job. Indoctrination of the young is a growing trend with the socialist factions in York, and needs to be closely watched. Mr Tomsett's twitter follows betray his political connections with the cultural political elite of York.
Paranoid much?
His twitter follows don't lie - more political bias than most local councillors on twitter - high score on the 'left-ometer'!!

Very much a member of the York cultural political charitable elite.

I bet he's a Common Purpose Matrix Graduate too?
[quote][p][bold]Bad magic[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Badgers Drift[/bold] wrote: Mr Tomsett is uber political, and his leftist agenda is obvious. I find his stance very worrying, and there is a danger that he takes these beliefs into his day job. Indoctrination of the young is a growing trend with the socialist factions in York, and needs to be closely watched. Mr Tomsett's twitter follows betray his political connections with the cultural political elite of York.[/p][/quote]Paranoid much?[/p][/quote]His twitter follows don't lie - more political bias than most local councillors on twitter - high score on the 'left-ometer'!! Very much a member of the York cultural political charitable elite. I bet he's a Common Purpose Matrix Graduate too? Badgers Drift
  • Score: -1

7:25pm Sun 15 Jun 14

MilkandTwo says...

The best way up for bright lads from council houses were the free opportunities provided by grammar schools. In 1 generation my family advanced from struggling tradesmen and factory workers to professionals because they were given the chance that grammar schools afforded.

I'm sure Mr Tomsett would be in favour of bring them back. Wouldn't he?
The best way up for bright lads from council houses were the free opportunities provided by grammar schools. In 1 generation my family advanced from struggling tradesmen and factory workers to professionals because they were given the chance that grammar schools afforded. I'm sure Mr Tomsett would be in favour of bring them back. Wouldn't he? MilkandTwo
  • Score: 1

11:45am Mon 16 Jun 14

andyjon12 says...

Badgers Drift wrote:
Bad magic wrote:
Badgers Drift wrote: Mr Tomsett is uber political, and his leftist agenda is obvious. I find his stance very worrying, and there is a danger that he takes these beliefs into his day job. Indoctrination of the young is a growing trend with the socialist factions in York, and needs to be closely watched. Mr Tomsett's twitter follows betray his political connections with the cultural political elite of York.
Paranoid much?
His twitter follows don't lie - more political bias than most local councillors on twitter - high score on the 'left-ometer'!!

Very much a member of the York cultural political charitable elite.

I bet he's a Common Purpose Matrix Graduate too?
Many Tories also have close links to Common Purpose; unfortunately they have infiltrated all kinds of groups and agencies, right across the political spectrum.l
[quote][p][bold]Badgers Drift[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Bad magic[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Badgers Drift[/bold] wrote: Mr Tomsett is uber political, and his leftist agenda is obvious. I find his stance very worrying, and there is a danger that he takes these beliefs into his day job. Indoctrination of the young is a growing trend with the socialist factions in York, and needs to be closely watched. Mr Tomsett's twitter follows betray his political connections with the cultural political elite of York.[/p][/quote]Paranoid much?[/p][/quote]His twitter follows don't lie - more political bias than most local councillors on twitter - high score on the 'left-ometer'!! Very much a member of the York cultural political charitable elite. I bet he's a Common Purpose Matrix Graduate too?[/p][/quote]Many Tories also have close links to Common Purpose; unfortunately they have infiltrated all kinds of groups and agencies, right across the political spectrum.l andyjon12
  • Score: 1

5:06pm Mon 16 Jun 14

Badgers Drift says...

andyjon12 wrote:
Badgers Drift wrote:
Bad magic wrote:
Badgers Drift wrote: Mr Tomsett is uber political, and his leftist agenda is obvious. I find his stance very worrying, and there is a danger that he takes these beliefs into his day job. Indoctrination of the young is a growing trend with the socialist factions in York, and needs to be closely watched. Mr Tomsett's twitter follows betray his political connections with the cultural political elite of York.
Paranoid much?
His twitter follows don't lie - more political bias than most local councillors on twitter - high score on the 'left-ometer'!! Very much a member of the York cultural political charitable elite. I bet he's a Common Purpose Matrix Graduate too?
Many Tories also have close links to Common Purpose; unfortunately they have infiltrated all kinds of groups and agencies, right across the political spectrum.l
More fool them!

They fall into the 'useful idiot' category, or have been brainwashed.

Julia Middleton, CP's founder, follows a certain doctrine.

Say no more.....,
[quote][p][bold]andyjon12[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Badgers Drift[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Bad magic[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Badgers Drift[/bold] wrote: Mr Tomsett is uber political, and his leftist agenda is obvious. I find his stance very worrying, and there is a danger that he takes these beliefs into his day job. Indoctrination of the young is a growing trend with the socialist factions in York, and needs to be closely watched. Mr Tomsett's twitter follows betray his political connections with the cultural political elite of York.[/p][/quote]Paranoid much?[/p][/quote]His twitter follows don't lie - more political bias than most local councillors on twitter - high score on the 'left-ometer'!! Very much a member of the York cultural political charitable elite. I bet he's a Common Purpose Matrix Graduate too?[/p][/quote]Many Tories also have close links to Common Purpose; unfortunately they have infiltrated all kinds of groups and agencies, right across the political spectrum.l[/p][/quote]More fool them! They fall into the 'useful idiot' category, or have been brainwashed. Julia Middleton, CP's founder, follows a certain doctrine. Say no more....., Badgers Drift
  • Score: 1

10:31am Tue 17 Jun 14

petethefeet says...

The only problem that I have with his argument is that it smacks of removing all competition and 'choice' that differs from his soviet-style vision of Society. If there is no competition then how will we judge how effective the 'thoughts of chairman Tomsett-kind' are? Thirty years ago, I tried in vain to argue with my daughter's teacher that Nuffield Maths should be consigned to the bin. Of course, I was totally wrong and Nuffield had been 'proved' to be affective. Imagine my feelings when, years later I read a report that Nuffield Maths had produced a generation of kids that could not add-up! And that's the problem with this idea of State-delivered education. They employ 'experts' (intelligent idiots more like) to come up with Change. Of course, if they don't deliver 'change' then it appears that they are not doing their job, so they come up with summat anyway (and they don't seem to bother if the same idea has previous evidence of failure). So, I'd like to see every parent have the right to effectively challenge the state-delivered idiom by been able to take their child, and hence their budget, elsewhere.
Oh....and like policemen, teachers should be politically neutral and be barred from joining political parties.
The only problem that I have with his argument is that it smacks of removing all competition and 'choice' that differs from his soviet-style vision of Society. If there is no competition then how will we judge how effective the 'thoughts of chairman Tomsett-kind' are? Thirty years ago, I tried in vain to argue with my daughter's teacher that Nuffield Maths should be consigned to the bin. Of course, I was totally wrong and Nuffield had been 'proved' to be affective. Imagine my feelings when, years later I read a report that Nuffield Maths had produced a generation of kids that could not add-up! And that's the problem with this idea of State-delivered education. They employ 'experts' (intelligent idiots more like) to come up with Change. Of course, if they don't deliver 'change' then it appears that they are not doing their job, so they come up with summat anyway (and they don't seem to bother if the same idea has previous evidence of failure). So, I'd like to see every parent have the right to effectively challenge the state-delivered idiom by been able to take their child, and hence their budget, elsewhere. Oh....and like policemen, teachers should be politically neutral and be barred from joining political parties. petethefeet
  • Score: 1

3:51pm Tue 17 Jun 14

Badgers Drift says...

petethefeet wrote:
The only problem that I have with his argument is that it smacks of removing all competition and 'choice' that differs from his soviet-style vision of Society. If there is no competition then how will we judge how effective the 'thoughts of chairman Tomsett-kind' are? Thirty years ago, I tried in vain to argue with my daughter's teacher that Nuffield Maths should be consigned to the bin. Of course, I was totally wrong and Nuffield had been 'proved' to be affective. Imagine my feelings when, years later I read a report that Nuffield Maths had produced a generation of kids that could not add-up! And that's the problem with this idea of State-delivered education. They employ 'experts' (intelligent idiots more like) to come up with Change. Of course, if they don't deliver 'change' then it appears that they are not doing their job, so they come up with summat anyway (and they don't seem to bother if the same idea has previous evidence of failure). So, I'd like to see every parent have the right to effectively challenge the state-delivered idiom by been able to take their child, and hence their budget, elsewhere. Oh....and like policemen, teachers should be politically neutral and be barred from joining political parties.
Spot on, petethefeet.....

'Chairman Tomsett' shares a vision of society with his fellow members of the York cultural political charitable elite clique, which is pushing it's agenda in this city!
[quote][p][bold]petethefeet[/bold] wrote: The only problem that I have with his argument is that it smacks of removing all competition and 'choice' that differs from his soviet-style vision of Society. If there is no competition then how will we judge how effective the 'thoughts of chairman Tomsett-kind' are? Thirty years ago, I tried in vain to argue with my daughter's teacher that Nuffield Maths should be consigned to the bin. Of course, I was totally wrong and Nuffield had been 'proved' to be affective. Imagine my feelings when, years later I read a report that Nuffield Maths had produced a generation of kids that could not add-up! And that's the problem with this idea of State-delivered education. They employ 'experts' (intelligent idiots more like) to come up with Change. Of course, if they don't deliver 'change' then it appears that they are not doing their job, so they come up with summat anyway (and they don't seem to bother if the same idea has previous evidence of failure). So, I'd like to see every parent have the right to effectively challenge the state-delivered idiom by been able to take their child, and hence their budget, elsewhere. Oh....and like policemen, teachers should be politically neutral and be barred from joining political parties.[/p][/quote]Spot on, petethefeet..... 'Chairman Tomsett' shares a vision of society with his fellow members of the York cultural political charitable elite clique, which is pushing it's agenda in this city! Badgers Drift
  • Score: 0

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