The conventional wisdom in the education debate is that all children should be given an equal opportunity to gain the most appropriate education and equal access to the best schools and colleges.
We do not like privilege and we do not like failure. But children have a range of ability and schools are of many kinds and qualities. And in any event is such an ambition useful for our society?
In pursuit of this aim we have built a public education system that is supposed to ensure all children an equal opportunity to gain the best education available. The only problem is that we can’t agree among ourselves what the best education really is. We keep worrying about the fact that the more academic tracks through education to university seem to be populated by the children of middle-class parents. Politicians cry out that educational institutions must ensure that a fair number of children from less advantaged backgrounds have access. What they really mean is from what we used to call the working class. And as soon as one says that, one realises that this is not just a question of appropriate education, but of appropriate class.