Left-wing snobbery does state schools no favours

Left-wing snobbery does state schools no favours. Matthew Norman is disingenous in criticising state schools and sending his children to private school.

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I have a letter in today’s Daily Telegraph defending my old school from the left-wing snobbery of Matthew Norman, writing in Saturday’s paper.

Pimlico-SchoolThe letter is as follows:

SIR – Matthew Norman (Comment, May 12) is right to lambast educational elitism in Britain. But his views of Britain’s comprehensives owe more to his own prejudice than any sense of reality.

I went to Pimlico School – which Mr Norman credits only with teacher murders and a one-way path to crack dealing – in the Nineties. It was not the easiest school for a middle-class child with professional parents but, like many other children from a similar background in comprehensives around the country, I thrived in the mixed-ability environment.

The comprehensive experience means that brighter pupils have to learn respect for those of different ability, something sadly lacking from many in the private sector.

The school was academically sound and sent two or three pupils to Oxbridge every year, and many others to good universities. For those less inclined towards the academic route, it had serious musical pedigree with Roots Manuva, Asher D and La Roux all alumni.

The secret was an active parent-teacher association and a governing body that took an interest. My father, despite being a shadow cabinet and cabinet member during that time, chaired the board.

In revealing his own choice to send his son to private school, Mr Norman shows that he is part of the problem. If he really cared about Britain’s education system, he should have sent his son to a local comprehensive and invested his own time and energy into helping it improve.

What really annoyed me was this line from Norman:

“Today, living in a rough west London suburb, we send our son to an excellent private school for no more compelling reason than – though a noble and lucrative profession – crack-dealing seems a career ill-suited to his nature.”


See also:

Academisation, academisation, academisation 5 Apr 2012

Non-academies do just as well as academies 3 Apr 2012

Think tank Reform’s school academy claim lacks academic rigour 28 Mar 2012


I have nothing against those who want the best for their children. We should aspire to raise standards in all our schools but that process involves parents getting involved in the governance of their local schools.

Dressing up a decision to send your kids to private school by pretending that the state sector does not offer a choice, especially when claiming to be on the left, is incredibly disingenuous. As it happens there are 23 outstanding secondary state schools in London including at least seven in west London.


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