Private vs state school – Cambridge’s most irrelevant battle?

Nobody cares, we’re all at Cambridge now

There is a class war going on.

It is apparent in every walk of society, from the halls of Westminster and the colleges of Cambridge, to boroughs of London and towns nationwide. It is undoubtedly apparent to an international student at Cambridge that amongst British students, where you went to school matters.

Or does it? I’d argue that it is in fact totally irrelevant and that it constitutes the most immediately obvious and apparent example of secularism that is the source of most of the world’s problems.


In the words of Sly Stone, there’s a riot goin’ on

Politicians are still judged by where they went to school, just as they inevitably were as freshers when they chose to go to uni. It is a choice, which frankly no student has any control over. Just as you cannot control your birth, a school pupil has very little impact upon the choice of their education. It’s decided for you by your parents as let’s face it, at that age your biggest concerns were whether Tracy Beaker would ever find a good home and what was for tea (or dinner – discuss) that evening. With this in mind, why on earth do we judge people because of the 10 or so years they spent learning for their SATs, 11+, GCSEs and A levels?

To any new student, no matter what side of the state/private educational wall you fall on, nobody cares! The sooner you stop caring and judging people on either side, your student days will be better for it. To spell it out in the simplest of terms, we are all at Cambridge now. We all got in against the same academic rigours and we would not be here if we didn’t make the grade. Cast off the past and forget about it. There are enough ways to categorise yourself. To get funny or protective about the means by which you were educated is the ultimate triviality.


Mum I made it

To place the irrelevance of the state vs private battle into some kind of context, to the public schoolies, how many of you actually paid any attention to where your friends went to prep school after your first week at secondary school? To the state educated, how many people actually showed the remotest of interest into where you went to secondary school when you started at sixth form?

Now why on earth can’t the same disdain about your peers’ educational history not be shown at Cambridge? There is no need to have a chip on your shoulder or judge anyone else from the other side of the educational system. To generalise, the state educated have made it into Cambridge in a much more cost effective manner as compared to to their fee-paying peers, while the privately educated can undoubtedly boast a very well rounded ‘Interests’ section at the bottom of their CV. But both are here at Cambridge and both have the same opportunities regardless of their past schooling.

Last year I  took a friend to a Public Enemy concert. At the gig, in and amongst the songs relating primarily to African American strife in late 20th Century West Coast America, the legend that is Flava Flav issued an impassioned serious plea. He got a somewhat reluctant audience to put their right fist in the air and simply decreed that almost all of the world’s problems come from the basic human need to belong. And I am inclined to agree.


Yeah boiii

We all belong to something, be it a continent, nation, race, town, football team, political party, university and even school, and while I am not for a moment suggesting that there is anything wrong with feeling pride by association, the origin of most human strife comes from whenever someone claims that the thing to which they belong is better than someone else’s. Flava Flav ended by saying that we’re all human and need to embrace it, regardless of background and belonging.

We’re all at Cambridge now. Embrace it, and forget whether or not you paid some fees on your way getting here.

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