Don’t sneer at the posh boys, sneer at the public schools they come from

It’s not necessarily their fault

In yesterday’s Times, the journalist Matthew Parris has said society is right to go on sneering at posh boys. He is, without a doubt, wrong.

‘Posh boys’, or those that were educated in the public school system, I am unequivocally convinced, do not deserve such vilification. They didn’t ask their parents to enroll them in a school that charges per annum nearly three times as much as the average British minimum wage, did they? They can’t help but be born into such a system. To paint the ‘posh boys’ of Eton and Harrow as the modern day privileged devil may sooth the angry socialists’ soul but it does not solve the problem in hand. It simply nurtures the society of ‘us against them’ that needs to be quashed.


Eton College

No, instead let us not sneer at the system. Let’s judge those boys that, blinded by the often arrogant system that nurtured them, label themselves posh and fail to recognise the other dimensions of society. The boys that relish the superiority that undeniably comes with such privilege. Let’s judge the posh boys who, painting themselves as victims of circumstance, refuse to accept that pedagogical parity is not as common as we think. Those that refuse to acknowledge that top education is seldom equally distributed between all classes of society and that it needs to change.  Put simply, let’s accept that actually, even in now in 2016, things are plainly unfair and that a social discourse desperately needs to occur.

Generally speaking, public schools have the resources to provide their students with world class education and in turn, produce alumni with developed talents and refined abilities. This, of course, is not a bad thing. Those lucky enough to have such an education should not be chased with pitchforks and dubbed villains. However, for such opportunity to be limited to those financially blessed is wrong. The sum of money in their bank accounts places them at an enormous advantage that often shapes the course of their lives. As obvious as it may seem and as many excellent state schools are in existence, more still needs to be done to allow children from the poorest of backgrounds access to the best possible start in life.


The reality is, a lot of people struggle to respect and value the opinion of those politicians that were reared in a system of fortune and wealth. When Parris says we should sneer at the individual, what he alludes to is society’s distaste for what a lot of them represent.

These ‘posh boys’ represent a mentality that is not conducive to a fair and progressive society. Of course, the majority are unaffected by the pomp and ceremony of such establishments but the cliche does ring true for a reason and we cannot deny that. It is a mentality of social snobbery, exclusive traditions, nepotism, superiority and entitlement. In turn, the existence of the mentality nurtured in such privileged circles would be a dangerous to deny.

Why? Because such a way of thinking filters down into every crevice of modern-day living. Where you went to school and how much you paid become synonymous with your worth and value as an individual. Your education becomes indicative of your parents’ status and power in society. It nurtures the wrong kind of respect in others. Suddenly, you go to university and you’re surrounded by people asking you where you went to school, who you know, and what your surname is. What is more, the nepotism that is naturally bread with it follows you into the work place. People see your paid education as an indicator that you’re from good stock and so, are more inclined to hire you.

Of course, these statements are generalisations. People do break the mould and defy expectation. Arrogance and superiority is as easily nurtured at the best performing state schools. However, the problem of the inequality I have discussed is an acute one and does demand to be acknowledged.

People need to know that they are capable of reaching their full potential in education without paying £30,000 a year to go to one of the finest public schools in the country. People should be able to to progress in life without being held back by their net worth or family’s inheritance. Is this all left wing idealism? Some might say so but others, I think, would be more likely to say it’s an ideal we have to keep fighting for.