Tory minister Barwell chooses £16,650 private school for son

WALTER CRONXITE, our political editor, on a piece of information that Croydon Central’s MP of the past seven years didn’t want you to know

A possible reason for gaffe-prone Gavin Barwell’s reluctance to engage with Croydon’s voters over the plight of the borough’s state schools has emerged with the news that the Tory career politician has sent his second son to a £16,650 per year private school.

Schools out: Gavin Barwell

Sam Barwell is understood to have started at Trinity School in Shirley Park last September. It is the same school that his father attended as a boy.

“Sam Barwell’s a lucky lad,” one state school teacher told Inside Croydon.

“His new school is not going to be affected by the £20million-worth of real-terms budget cuts to education which his daddy’s government want to inflict on Croydon, which will mean axing more than 500 teacher posts in the state schools.”

Trinity also happens to be where, on Thursday night, the ballot boxes from across Croydon will be gathered for the count for the borough’s three constituencies. Gavin Barwell, who has been MP for Croydon Central since 2010, is defending a 165-vote majority.

“That’ll be like staging the count in Barwell’s own front room,” one Labour supporter said, unhappy at the choice of venue taken by the council’s chief exec, and returning officer, Jo Negrini. “It’s way out of the town centre and is entirely inappropriate.”

Croydon Council will also have to pay for the hire of the private school’s facilities out of tax-payers’ money.

£16,600-a-year Trinity School provides a wide range of sport, arts and education facilities for its pupils, lucky lads

It is not known whether Sam Barwell attends the school on a scholarship, which the charitable trust which runs the school, the Whitgift Foundation, is able to fund out of generous tax breaks it receives as a result of its charitable status.

Gavin Barwell is a former chair of governors at Trinity School, and was a long-time member of the governors of the Foundation.

Barwell Senior has been playing hard-to-get on education issues in recent weeks. At first, his staff managed to accept an invitation to attend an election event staged by Croydon teachers, then they got the date changed, and then he pulled out of the event altogether claiming to be “double-booked”. When the Croydon NUT then put a set of education questions to Barwell by email, he failed to respond after more than a week and despite a polite reminder.

It is not the first time that Barwell has opted out of the Croydon state education system. In 2014, Sam’s older brother, Jack, started at Wallington County Grammar School in Sutton.

“Jack passed the exam for one of the local grammar schools. We are very proud of him,” his father said at the time.

Barwell Senior has never embraced with the same enthusiasm the political policy of reintroducing grammar schools, as his UKIP mates or his Croydon South colleague, Chris Philp have done.

When he did, eventually, get around to responding to the NUT’s questionnaire, Barwell said about grammar schools, “I don’t want to see a return to the 11-plus with all schools either grammar or secondary modern, but I think some parents would appreciate having one or two grammars in Croydon as they do in Bromley and Sutton.”

Unlike many MPs, Barwell flaunts his family in an attempt to win political favour

His and wife Karen’s reasoning to send one child to a state-funded grammar and another to a fee-paying independent remains opaque – Barwell has not responded to this website’s questions on the matter, so it is impossible to know whether they may be in some way dissatisfied with the schooling provided for his older son at Wallington.

Wallington Boys is now run as an academy, with its ambitious head teacher having plans to open a partly selective school in Croydon, to open in September 2018. Those plans include building on playing fields near Lloyd Park, land which would usually be protected from any such development.

The site is close to Croydon Central, the constituency Barwell says he has been proud to represent for the past seven years. Despite being minister for housing, Barwell has consistently resisted all development schemes on Green Belt or Metropolitan Open Land in his constituency. Yet he has made barely a peep about the building of a vast selective school for Wallington on public playing fields.

In his election literature and political website, Barwell has frequently referred to or included pictures of his family, all as a blatant effort to win public support. On his website, he names all three of his sons (though carefully avoids mentioning his choice of schools), and in typically deceptive style, he makes reference to their first family home in Monks Hill, though not where they currently live, in Sanderstead, which happens to be outside the Croydon Central constituency.

No one can criticise any parent for wanting the best for their children. As a declaration of interest, the sons of this website’s editor both received excellent educations, one at a private school and one at a grammar in Sutton. In both cases, the schools were chosen because the alternatives provided within Croydon were inadequate.

But where Barwell’s school choice for his children is informative is that, after seven years of Conservative-led governments, with many education policies foisted on the state sector by Barwell’s chum Michael Gove, it appears that there is not a single state school in Croydon which the erstwhile Tory minister considers good enough for his own children.

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in 2017 General Election, Croydon Central, Education, Gavin Barwell, Sarah Jones MP, Schools, Trinity School, Whitgift Foundation and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Tory minister Barwell chooses £16,650 private school for son

  1. His son might be going to the local comp after Thursday if he loses his seat and he can’t pay the fees – unless he gets a proper job!

  2. croydonres says:

    The current Tory proposals to reduce funding for schools will reduce teacher numbers, and make the state schools’ task harder.

  3. Peter Bell says:

    All this discussion about state vs grammar and free vs religious etc. Just think about it within our own life times (how many times have you felt superior/inferior when talking to people about your education ). I know I do.
    With all the confusion in our current society (re bombings, stabbings and violence towards others) I think it is time for some one like Jeremy Corbyn to say “sufficient is more than enough”
    It is time to stop ALL religious schools (catholic Protestant Jewish & Muslim – and any others I have left out through ignorance and apathy) and for our new govt to give one well considered education direction for our people that is the same for all of us.
    For some, their children will miss out on being friends with the next prime minister ( as there parents have paid for – but that was never “fair” anyway ) as Eton/Harrow etc will be abolished but for others their future prime minister will have grown up with children from their own area and he might know , for a change, what it is like to be British and even “not quite so wealthy”

    I believe in one state education for everyone in our society, so that it binds us all together. We HAVE to pay for this in our taxes to ensure we as a whole society are together. Some us will pay more – (guess what- some will pay less) but after what’s happening in Manchester London Paris -everywhere – we have to show ourselves ( we can worry about everyone else later) that we really are together and want our children to be in a more fair and equitable society than we currently live in.

    Think about it before you vote but please go vote even if you disagree.

  4. Ron West says:

    So Barwell is releasing a State school place that he has already paid for in his taxes, by paying for his son’s schooling out of his own remaining taxed income (that he is free to spend as he wishes)… AND YOU’RE BITCHING ABOUT IT?

    • You’re wrong on so many levels, Ron.
      Do you have any first-hand information that Barwell is actually paying his child’s school fees? Are you sure that the son of the ex-chair of governors hasn’t been handed a cash-saving scholarship of some kind?
      Whether he is paying fees or not, the Foundation’s charity status means that we’re all subsidising the little darling’s education, because of the tax breaks provided to charities (though what charitable work the Foundation is actually doing is somewhat debatable).
      And state school places are not a transferable benefit, capable of being passed from one person to another like a sack of potatoes. The places still have to be provided, and costs incurred.

      And meanwhile, Barwell is part of a government that wants to axe £20million from Croydon’s state schools, who will lose 500 teaching positions as a consequence, AND YOU ARE ENTIRELY RELAXED ABOUT IT.

  5. croydonres says:

    No doubt, the subjects that will suffer most from the mean Tory axe are those regarded as non essential, like art, music and foreign languages.

    Penny wise–pound foolish?

    Of course, Germany does all these well in schools, plus it values and rewards technical and craft skills education, and manufacturing. That’s why they succeed.

    Prosperity, UK style,tends to be based on boom and bust.

    As a result, one thing can be assured, in this perpetual flux. The corporate lawyers, accountants and brokers will continue to prosper !

  6. Peter Bell says:

    Since 2010, to save money and provide the ability to keep taxes low, the current and previous Tory govt has
    1) reduced the money for mobile libraries in the country (where there support is traditionally) – disadvantageing older members who struggle to get into the “towns” Wher libraries are
    2) sold off the British waterways board who look after our canals and rivers (saved approx £1m in a goby budget of >£14 bn which has created a fustercluck for many people and added to pollution of our waterways
    3) reduced the money per pupil for our children
    4) stopped spending inflation related monies on our road system for repairs ( you try driving outside the capital without damaging your tyres as I have to)
    5) reduced spending on police forces in all areas (ok not so bad on the basic met police but massive reductions on special groups within the met on er….. liked armed police
    6) closed nursing training centres – where we Used to train our own children to be nurses instead of having to hire at greater expense overseas nurses (some {not all} not as qualified as they think)
    7) closed down our world leading forensic science institute saving temporarily £1m and now we spend WAY more than that on privatised versions who are not independent, and no where near as capable and unable to invest in new ways to get round “criminal science creep”, as ŵell as using the mets “totally independent service” run by the met and for the met.
    8) and don’t get me started on the closing down of surestart and local nurseries …. as I can feel a blood pressure tablet necessary.

    Anyway it is late. You don’t have to agree with me but you MUST vote.

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