appraising Cllr Taylor’s weekly message exposing his lack of intellectual honesty, I was mildly amused to then read Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds’s latest letter to his constituents, regarding the lack of social mobility, and criticized the fact that many Tory Members of Parliament come from privileged backgrounds’ which invariably leads to an ‘easy passage’ to them acquiring power in Government and other influential positions.
He told us, “He, (Boris Johnson) is the 20th Prime Minister who had attended Eton College”. And went on to say that “it demonstrates a tragic failure of social mobility that in millennial Britain, it remains the case that if you’re from the right family, with the right money and you’ve been to the right school, your chances of acquiring further power and wealth are dramatically magnified, even if you are dangerously lacking in the skills and achievements necessary for the posts to which you are appointed.” – Quelle surprise!
What I can’t understand is why those on the left constantly display a combination of inverse snobbishness and ignorance by advocating that state educated students cannot get in our Top Universities without demanding they lower the bar.
However, his fixation that it’s only those from Tory ‘privileged backgrounds’ that seek to climb up the greasy pole, is clearly not true.
But of course, whilst it is indeed true that many top Government people; ranging from Civil Servants to Special Advisers, did attend ‘fee-paying’ independent schools, many more did not. They were the ones who got their heads down at state schools, studied hard, realised their potential by listening to influential teachers, and backed by ambitious parents or guardians who actively encouraged their children to aspire to reach their full potential.
If Jonathan needs conformation of this, the he need look no further than some of his colleagues sitting on the opposition’s front bench; it might well come as a real ‘eye opener’ to some of his readers just how many fall into the ‘privileged’ few and those who set their sights high, when attending their state schools.
Starting with Jonathan; (who is a qualified Solicitor), he first attended the University of Manchester before moving on to the BPP University Law School, which is a private, ‘for-profit’ provider of professional and academic legal education.
Looking back in recent history; take Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson. He first attended a Grammar School (these are schools that the Labour Party are desperate to dispose of!) before attending Jesus College Oxford. Tony Bair; was privately educated at Fettes College then he too graduated to St John’s College Oxford. Jeremy Corbyn, attended the fee-paying Castle House School. John MacDonell, - attended St Joseph’s College, another fee-paying school, then went on to attend the University of London and Brunel University - a public research university located in Uxbridge.
Deputy Labour Leader, Tom Watson attended the University of Hull as did former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. Even the arithmetically challenged Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott attended the fee-paying Newnham College before graduating to the University of Cambridge!
Another Labour ‘high -flyer’ Keir Starmer was first educated at Reigate Grammar, before he too graduated to Oxford University.
On the other side of the coin, local MP Andrew Gwynne, like many hard-working MP’s who grace the benches on both sides of parliament, came through the state school educated sector. Andrew was educated locally at Egerton Park Secondary School in Denton, before graduating to the University of Salford.
Contrast his educational background with that of Barry Gardener, who not only attended Corpus Christi College Cambridge, but graduated from there to the fee-paying Harvard University.
So, therefore it is ludicrous to characterise all those exclusive public schools, as those who educate only the rich. This appears to be yet another leftist dogma advancing a wilful mischaracterisation. Their tendency to minimise the public benefit provided by independent schools and institutions like Oxbridge, is often malicious.
Could this be because it so much easier to place the burden on Universities, than to accept that the state education system needs to be totally overhauled? It’s a sorry fact that in some areas of the UK, fewer than one-in-five children currently leave school with decent GCSEs in the core “English Baccalaureate” subjects – English, maths, science, languages and history or geography.
No wonder why people are asking just what is wrong with the educational system in this country? And ask what can be done to fix our educational system; the obvious answer is that we need to return to the concept that to receive a public education is a privilege, and not a right. Give back the disciplinary authority to teachers, give them the backing of the schools Governors and the Senior Management Teams and put an end to teachers and more importantly, other students having to endure disruptive, disrespectful, and dysfunctional kids who hinder progress, on a daily basis. Admittedly, there are special needs students who legitimately need special services – and they should not be deprived. But there are many more kids who have parents and Senior Management administrators who are making excuses for their bad and sometimes dangerous behaviour. Little wonder teachers are leaving the profession in droves!
Let’s get a grip and not reduce our children’s’ education to the lowest possible denominator.