You can be privileged in Britain, but only if you have the brass neck to pretend you’re not. Increasingly, parents who strain their budgets to pay private school tuition are being punished for their savings and liability.

Their children are rejected for Oxbridge university places and jobs for which they are well qualified. Candidates from public schools are preferred for political reasons, as if it were a People’s Republic. What started a few years ago as an elusive trend has now become very hard to ignore.

A recent freedom of information survey of 50 leading private schools found that their students’ overall chances of getting an offer from Oxford or Cambridge fell by a third in five years. The change followed soon after the two former universities – which deny they discriminate against private school students – began using “contextual” selection methods.

Yet Professor Stephen Toope, who has just left his post as Principal of the University of Cambridge, said: ‘We must continue to say very, very clearly that we intend to reduce the number of people from independent schools in places like Oxford or Cambridge.

Professor Stephen Toope, who has just left Cambridge University, said: “We must continue to say very, very clearly that we intend to reduce over time the number of people from independent schools in places like Oxford or Cambridge’

Either way, egalitarian fanatics applaud and encourage this behavior. Labor MP and shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy once said, “The upper classes have a hold on Oxford admissions which they will not voluntarily give up.”

This kind of talk treats the suburban middle class as if they were privileged billionaire aristocrats rather than men and women who work and save, and put school ahead of big houses, vacations, cars and expensive clothes. .

This is in line with the modern idea of ​​“social mobility” which has much more to do with punishing the conservative middle class than helping the poor. And that means universities and employers are urged to avoid candidates from obviously middle-class backgrounds, even if they are better qualified.

The new regime snubs and rejects well-educated young men and women who, in many cases, come from homes where parents made great sacrifices for their education.

Despite this, the country remains as privileged as it has ever been, with the new vocal left-wing elite well versed in the methods necessary to prevail. The truly poor are still treated terribly, as they have been since public high schools, which selected on merit rather than money, were nearly all destroyed in the 1960s.

Labor MP and shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy once said:

Labor MP and shadow foreign secretary David Lammy once said: ‘The upper classes have a grip on admissions at Oxford which they will not voluntarily give up’ (file photo from the University of ‘Oxford)

Try this story, as an example. You would have thought it was bad enough that Anthony Blair was sending two of his sons to a quite exceptional public school, the London Oratory, miles from his home. In doing so, he has tacitly accepted that the local comprehensive schools are not enough for him. As often, some are more equal than others. But, in 2002, he did something even more shocking. He hired teachers from the hugely expensive private school, Westminster, to give his boys extra tuition for their A levels.

After five years in power, chanting “Education! Education! Education ! he accepted the truth that all informed people know. Full public education is a disaster, especially for the poor. Even at its top end, it can’t do the job properly. As a result, many (but not all) private schools vastly outperform most public schools, as do the few remaining public high schools.

But the future Sir Tony didn’t admit it openly, just in his actions. Shouldn’t he have used the schools he wanted everyone else to go to, if they were that good? But, of course, he knew they were no good. So instead he used the Oratory, officially a suit. Is it really one? When I once suggested it wasn’t the Blairs came after me, until I agreed to say it was a complete project the same way 10 Downing Street is a terraced house in the city center.

This is always how socialist utopians behave. When their utopia doesn’t work out, they find ways to escape it on their own, leaving us to deal with the mess. The English public school system is, in fact, full of secret privileges, for those in the know, who have the money to pay for it and the sharp elbows to exploit it.

The new regime snubs and rejects well-educated young men and women who in many cases come from homes where parents made major sacrifices for the sake of their upbringing (Cambridge University file photo)

The new regime snubs and rejects well-educated young men and women who in many cases come from homes where parents made major sacrifices for the sake of their upbringing (Cambridge University file photo)

The Sutton Trust and Teach First, neither of which are right-wing organisations, have produced research showing that the best “understandings” are in fact very socially selective. There’s also no way of knowing how many top “comprehensive” exam results in affluent areas are earned by private lessons, a la Blair. Nobody is obliged to register it.

In 2017, the Sutton Trust reported that more than 85% of top performing public schools had fewer disadvantaged students than they should for their catchment area. They also found that there was a “house price premium” of about 20% associated with living in the right neighborhood for a successful, highly rated comprehensive school. A typical house in such a catchment area at that time cost around £45,700 more than the average property in the same local authority.

Teach First reported in the same year that 43% of pupils in England’s outstanding state secondary schools came from the top 20% of families. The poorest students were half as likely as the wealthiest to go to exceptional high schools.

Blair, at the time he was hiring private tutors for his boys, was the leader of the Labor Party, the same party that had imposed a supposedly equal full education on England, Wales and Europe. Scotland. His government made it illegal to open new state high schools, ensuring that there was almost no escape – for most people – from the global disaster.

You would have thought it was bad enough that Anthony Blair was sending two of his sons to a quite exceptional public school, the London Oratory, miles from his home.

You would have thought it was bad enough that Anthony Blair was sending two of his sons to a quite exceptional public school, the London Oratory, miles from his home.

Most don’t have the skills or the money to navigate the ‘global’ system as leftist elites so often manage to do. No wonder so many parents, who couldn’t really afford it, went private. But now their children are suffering for the sacrifices of their parents.

To make matters worse, Chancellor and future Blair successor Gordon Brown got into a mad feud with Magdalen College, Oxford in 2000, for rejecting a state-school-educated candidate, Laura Spence. He alleged, without actual evidence, that it showed prejudice against public school applicants. But however poor his arguments, his action may well have succeeded in spooking Oxbridge academics into a real prejudice against private schools.

A-level grades have been so telescoped by falling school standards that they are hardly an objective guide, failing to distinguish between excellent and merely good. This makes it much easier to select on “contextual” bases rather than strict ratings.

You can be sure that the children of the liberal elite, while railing against the supposed privilege of private school, do all they can, professing a strong religious faith or settling in catchment areas. expensive, or by hiring tutors, to put their own children on the magic carpet to Oxbridge, via state schools that are only theoretically complete.

Privilege, in decline during the heyday of public high schools in the 1960s, is back in full force.

Peter Hitchens’ new book, A Revolution Betrayed: How Egalitarians Wrecked The British Education System, is out later this month.