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Hadley Freeman: So the privately educated are the new underclass? Spare me the sob story

Category: In the News
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Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman cited Leading People research in her column

I have lived in Britain – mainly on, sometimes off – for 25 years, but there are still two things about this country I don’t understand. Number one: why do so many of your classic TV shows have such bizarre titles? Last Of The Summer Wine? Only Fools And Horses? Can you imagine what it was like to move here in the 90s, from the land of the prosaically titled Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place, to a country where one of the most popular shows was called Drop The Dead Donkey?

Second, how a country so obsessed with class can still be so weird about privilege. More specifically, how those who benefit most from this aforementioned privilege can live in complete denial of it, insisting their success is down entirely to their glittering talent.

Two reports came out recently, confirming – OMG! Who’d-a thunk it? – that going to private school is quite beneficial to a person’s life prospects. Turns out those parents are paying £12,000 to £30,000 a year for more than the cute uniforms. First, a Durham University study found that independently educated students gain a boost equivalent to two extra years of schooling compared with state school students.

Meanwhile, the Sutton Trust’s study confirmed that the privately educated still dominate the leading professions. Newspapers reported this in shocked tones, but given that 51% of print journalists were privately educated themselves, I mean “shocked” in the way Casablanca’s Captain Renault was shocked – shocked! – to find there was gambling going on at Rick’s Cafe while he collected his winnings. Shocked like David Cameron was in January, when he suddenly realised that Oxbridge isn’t all that diverse. This would be the David Cameron who studied at Brasenose College, which has the poorest record of admitting state school pupils of all Oxford colleges. But I digress.

Read her full piece here