Don’t attack public schools and Oxbridge – imitate them – Telegraph Blogs

Eton – extremely good schools produce extremely successful grown-ups (Photo – Alamy)

Alan Milburn, chairman of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, is of course right to say Britain’s professions are dominated by a public school and Oxbridge elite.

His solution, though, is wrong: to force companies to declare the social background of their workforce to combat a “deeply elitist” culture. The idea is that employers should discriminate against applicants from private schools to stop the elite domination of the judiciary, Armed Forces, politics, media and the medical profession.

It’s a crazy idea. Would you prefer to be operated on by the best-qualified doctor in the land or one chosen by Alan Milburn because of their background?

Of course, it is unfair that some people’s parents can afford to pay for a better education – I speak as someone educated at public school and Oxford. But the problem for the elite-bashers is that British public schools are some of the best schools in the world; and Oxford and Cambridge are two of the best universities on earth. Of course, their products are going to end up running the country.

That isn’t a “racket”, as Owen Jones suggests in today’s Guardian. Oxford is completely fair in the way it selects the cleverest applicants – including one Owen Jones, educated at Oxford. There’s nothing underhand or dodgy in that selection; and it’s logical that Oxford graduates, like Owen Jones, go on to extremely good jobs.

The way to sort out the problem isn’t to reverse-engineer the unequal outcomes, and discriminate against the well-educated. The answer is to beat the elite at their own game: for state schools and less successful universities to emulate the rigorous selection, examinations, discipline and high-mindedness of public schools and Oxbridge.

This is exactly what Michael Gove was doing before he was replaced by his less brave successor. If you want to increase social mobility, bring back Gove – or at least bring back his ideas.

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28 August 2014 | 3:50 pm – Source: telegraph.co.uk

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