Latest installment of Mills v McCartney saga seems to be a fight over whether Beatrice should go to private school or not with Macca dead against.

Private education, in his estimation, “messes up” children and he hopes Beatrice would gain from being grounded by the experience of state schooling. Sir Paul has told friends how his other children had “certainly turned out all right”.

Is the fact that one is a fashion designer, another a photographer and the third “working in the music industry” an indication of other resources available to them (cultural capital)? I imagine it wasn’t a sink school/bog-standard comp that they attended and that the McCartney brand must have helped rather than hindered their passage in life.

All this comes hot on the heels of George Osborne’s U-turn in withdrawing his kids from the state primary for a £11k a year per head private school – a move condemned by bloggers such as Mike Ion and Recess Monkey. The comments thread on the Telegraph piece on it mainly consists of colonel blimp type saying it doesn’t matter a jot whether they go.

Although I recognise that the “setting an example” argument could apply in the Osborne case, I always got used to the idea that Tories did think themselves above the schools that the vast majority send our kids to. It is more shocking when Labour politicians choose to buy their way out of the state sector as happened with Diane Abbott amongst others. In my view the main aspect of private schools that needs immediately reforming is their charitable status. Many have huge endowments and they seem to be all engaged in a huge tax dodge. 

Anyway surely the issue is grammar schools and how they continue to create elitism within the state sector and practice nothing short of educational apartheid: a child’s future determined by an exam sat the age of sometimes just 10. It may not be a big issue in metropolitan areas but in Chesham and Amersham one of the best organised and most vocal pressure groups is “Bucks Parents for Comprehensive Education”. In my book New Labour has been pretty timid on this one, serving up an inscrutable system requiring a ridiculously high threshold to even get held dressed up as “parental choice”. Phasing out these schools would not even cost a single Labour seat in the county of Buckinghamshire.

My three year old will hopefuly start at the local authority primary this September myself, if he gets in. It’s massively oversubscribed and the catchment area seems to be shrinking as people purchase property (or even temporarily rent) to get their offspring in. It’s another (covert) form of selection (by house-price) which maintains educational inequalities – something that Labour is officially against.

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