Private schools


I went to a private school. Actually I went to two. I went to nothing but private schools. I don’t know whether this gave me an advantage in later life, but that was certainly the idea, and it felt like getting an advantage at the time.

When you are a pupil at an expensive school, in my case Westminster in central London, you feel special. Great things are predicted for you, and you see them achieved by those who once were in your shoes. Still more important is what you don’t see. Nobody you know gets into trouble with the police. Nobody fails extravagantly (if they do they have to leave). Not everyone is rich, but nobody is poor. I don’t know how well educated we were, but we certainly learned to understand that our rare lives would have a higher pass mark. The angry comments on my articles today quite often agree, suggesting that I get published because I went to private school. They may be right.

I’m saying that private school gives you the mind of an aristocrat, without the country house. Often this is a pleasant and productive thing to have, but it encourages a rather casual attitude to other people, and it isn’t fair. The faintness of the public will to do away with private schools amazes me, but I suppose it’s an aristocracy that sells tickets this time, which lets people feel they have a shot at it themselves.