Private schools are destroying society

Private schools make PATRICK BROOKS angry. Really angry. And he wants you to be angry about them too.

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You might have read the article in the Bristol Tab praising private schools last week. I found the article so blatantly ignorant and head-bangingly wrong that there’s no need to ‘correct’ it with a smug line-for-line rebuttal. But the huge amount of controversy the piece has generated clearly shows that the private/state debate is still an inflammatory topic, especially at top universities where state and private schoolers have to rub shoulders for the first time in their lives.

Let me lay my cards on the table this point. I was entirely state-educated, despise private schools, and instinctively think ever-so-slightly less of people who admit they went to one.

‘Admit’ is the key word here. Apart from a few blazer-totting inbreds, most private schoolers at Cambridge aren’t openly proud of their costly education. The prevailing opinion amongst the lefty majority of students seems to be that private schools are a Bad Thing, and that if you went to one there’s a fair chance you’re no more than a trained and groomed twat. Saying I’m from a state school makes me feel plucky, the underdog, with unsaid but obvious “I deserve my place more than you” subtext.

A standard day at a public school. Allegedly.

The trouble is, I kind of know that my outward scorn is mostly a reaction against my intense envy of those who received a private education. Don’t get me wrong, my state school was lovely and not a roaring hellhole of ASBOs and flying chairs, but I didn’t have those swanky facilities, those cosy little classes with the best teachers money can buy, those sparkling swimming pools, rolling grounds or first rate raked-seating theatres. More crucially, I didn’t have those two years of sixth form spent drilling me until I was a Cambridge interviewer’s wet dream. I don’t think it’s fair that I didn’t have that and other people did, just because of the lives of our respective parents which have nothing to do with us.

Because that’s what the whole shitty issue is about, for me. It’s not about private school kids being stuck up pricks who deserve all the prejudice and shame and feeling like they don’t deserve their place. And it’s not about state-school kids being bitter about their inferiority complexes and having more chips on their shoulders than James Bond after that bit where he wins in Casino Royale.

It’s about the whole thing just being fucking unfair. Why should private schoolers have to prove that they actually do deserve to be here and deal with a horrible chunder-dripping, gap-yahing, drinkypooing stereotype for their whole adult life? And why should state schoolers have to battle for lost ground, sit in their rooms nursing their bursaries,wishing they were at Warwick?

Turns out Eton has committed more crimes than just looking like John’s.

None of us chose whether to be privately or state educated. It wasn’t about our talent, or intelligence (yes, I know there are selective schools and scholarships but in general, let’s be honest, it’s mostly about the money) it was simply whether our parents a) had the vast sums of money required and b) whether they wanted to spend it on private education. And that’s not fair.

It also causes unnecessary division and strife between young people who are, lets face it, pretty much the same. It entrenches class division – the reason classes still exist is that the posh families send their kids to private schools, and poor families don’t, so the two don’t intermingle until they’ve already formed ideas about what kind of people they are and judgments about the groups they’ve never had to interact with.

And the only way things are going to get better, the only way the cycle of prejudice and classism and growing wealth disparity in this country is ever going to end, is if the current private school system dies out.

Do you want your children to look like this? Me neither.

Chances are a good many of you reading this are going to end up being fairly rich, at least well off enough to send your spawn to private school. Don’t. Just don’t do it. Don’t perpetuate the system. Don’t be a selfish prick. Until their childhood is over and they can start making responsible choices for themselves, children should be treated equally as far as possible. Surely most reasonable humans would accept that? Dividing the quality of education children get due to anything other than ability just isn’t moral. How fucked up would it be if you were put in the top maths set in Year 9 purely because your mum gave the teacher a handjob under the table at parents’ evening? That’s basically the current national system, just on a macro level.

If parents with bright kids send their children to state schools the state schools will get better, and gradually but inevitably private schools will close down; they are businesses, and ultimately they need customers.

So send your kids to a state school – I’m not saying don’t be a raging obsessed parent and try to find the best state school in your area, that’s obviously natural – but just don’t spend a penny. You’ll be paying for state education with your taxes, so fucking use it.