Ian Jack: India’s caste system and British private education are hardly alike, but both divide their societies
Guardian columnist Ian Jack referred to our Leading People report in his Saturday column,
Figures published by the education charity the Sutton Trust this week showed that only 16% of Britain’s senior doctors and one in 10 of its leading barristers were educated at state comprehensive schools. Among judges in the high court and court of appeal, the proportion was even smaller: 5% had attended a comprehensive, compared with the 21% who had gone to selective schools and the 74% who had gone private. In the military, only 12% of the army’s two-star generals and the equivalent ranks in the Royal Navy and the RAF had attended a comprehensive; among prominent journalists only 19%; among award-winning actors only 23%. In a country where 88% of the school-age population go to comprehensives (and only 7% to fee-paying schools), this represents a hugely disproportionate presence of the privately educated inside Britain’s elites, but then this is also a nation with a future which, to paraphrase the Duke of Wellington, will be won or lost on the playing fields of Eton.
Where else in the world offers a similar picture of entrenched privilege? A comparison with the ancient Indian city of Allahabad is instructive.
Read his full column here