Britain’s Exclusive Schools Try to Be a Little Less So
RUGBY, England — Patrick Derham remembers the moment in October 1973 when, age 14, from a troubled home and planning to join the navy, he saw the course of his life changed, rather miraculously, for the better.
Out of the blue, he was offered a free place at an expensive private school. He took it, went on to Cambridge University and then served as headmaster of two of Britain’s most famous educational institutions. He was never told how he had been selected for the scholarship, but he has since tried to repay that faith in his potential by bringing more students from disadvantaged backgrounds — including young black teenagers — to some of Britain’s most elite places of learning.
Few institutions better symbolize social stratification and privilege in Britain than its top independent schools, whose origins date back centuries in some cases. Their former students dominate many spheres of British life, and half the members of the cabinet were privately educated, including Prime Minister David Cameron, who attended the nation’s most exclusive academy, Eton College.
很少能有哪些院校，能像英国顶尖的独立学校那样体现社会分层和特权。其中一些精英学校的历史有数百年之久，这些学校的毕业生把持着英国社会生活的方方面面，英国内阁一半的成员曾在私立学校就读，包括首相戴维·卡梅伦(David Cameron)，他就读的是该国最高端的伊顿公学(Eton College)。
Critics blame this system for some of Britain’s social, economic and racial inequalities; argue that such schools impede mobility; and want them to do more for children from disadvantaged backgrounds to justify the tax breaks they receive.
Some schools, prodded by Mr. Derham and others, are doing just that: taking steps to further diversify their student bodies.
“More and more of us are concerned by this polarization in society,” Mr. Derham said in an office at Westminster School, where he is the headmaster. “There is no point producing people who have only met people like themselves.”
In 2003, in his previous post as headmaster of Rugby School, Mr. Derham helped set up a program called the Arnold Foundation, which provided free boarding places for teenagers recruited from disadvantaged communities. He forged links with a London club for Afro-Caribbean youngsters, called the Eastside Young Leaders’ Academy, which was started by a former prison officer, Ray Lewis, who was alarmed at the number of young black men ending up in jail.
德伦在2003年，在拉格比学校(Rugby School)担任校长期间，帮助建立了一个称作阿诺基金会(Arnold Foundation)的项目，帮助来自弱势社群的青少年免费提供寄宿教育。他与伦敦一个名为东区少年领袖学院(Eastside Young Leaders’ Academy)的面向黑人少年的俱乐部取得了联系。该组织的创始人雷·刘易斯(Ray Lewis)曾是一名狱警，年轻黑人男性锒铛入狱的人数让他感到警觉。
Mr. Lewis had been inspired by a TV report about an academy in Baton Rouge, La., set up to improve prospects for young black men and influenced by America’s Prep for Prep, a program aimed at creating opportunities for black, Latino and Asian-American students.
他之所以产生这个灵感，是因为在电视上看到了关于路易斯安那州巴吞鲁日一家学院的报道。那家校的目的是改善年轻黑人男性的前景，也受到了美国“准备再准备”(Prep for Prep)组织的影响，该计划旨在为黑人、拉丁裔、亚裔学生创造机遇。
Yet initially Mr. Lewis doubted that exclusive, expensive and traditional schools like Rugby were a place for any “self-respecting black guy.” It seemed “absolutely preposterous,” he said. “Boarding school? All you ever heard about that was beatings and buggery.”
Not only was he eventually convinced, but last year a student from Eastside, Michael Olorunlogbon, 16, became the 100th pupil to attend Rugby thanks to an Arnold Foundation scholarship.
Arriving at a school founded almost 450 years ago, with its quadrangles, cloisters and ivy-clad buildings, was “slightly intimidating,” Mr. Olorunlogbon conceded. But he now likes life here and thinks he is likely to make higher grades, secure a better university place and forge a brighter future.
“The teachers have more time for you — there is a small student-teacher ratio at the school,” he said in a large room next to the headmaster’s office. “At home, there are more distractions. I work harder here than I would at home, definitely.”
This is not always an easy adjustment, however. David Ejim-McCubbin, 23, said that when he went from a deprived district of London to Rugby School, he struggled to reconcile two “astronomically different” worlds.
“I left one realm, as it were, to peek into one that was — I don’t know how many — stratospheres above the one I was born into,” said Mr. Ejim-McCubbin, who has since received a degree in law and a master’s degree in legal and political theory. He now coordinates Eastside’s scholarship program.
Peter Green, the current headmaster of Rugby School, said the school was now building on its history of charity, and adapting to modern times a long tradition of offering free places. For example, one of its best known historical figures, William Webb Ellis, who is credited with handling, rather than kicking, a ball here in 1823 and thus starting rugby football, was educated on a scholarship.
拉格比学校的现任校长彼得·格林(Peter Green)说，学校现在正将其慈善历史发扬光大，并针对这个时代，对其免费收录学生的悠久传统作出调整。例如，该学校最有名的历史人物威廉·韦伯·艾利斯(William Webb Ellis)就是因为奖学金，才接受了教育，人们认为，是他于1823年在这里开创了橄榄球，他当时没有用脚踢，而是用手去处理球。