Readers weigh in on the preeminence of Oxbridge and Eton and the call from Simon Bull to outlaw discrimination against those with a state-provided education.
I, like John Harris (To understand the Zahawi story and Tory sleaze, look no further than Britain’s posh cliques, 29 January), went straight from a comprehensive school to Oxford. Consequences for individuals and communities alike are becoming more apparent.
It has always baffled me that in this day and age, when we have rightly banned many forms of direct and indirect discrimination, discrimination against the vast majority of the population who attended state schools remains legal and (especially in its indirect form) common. More people experience this kind of bias than any other.
When it comes to anti-discrimination laws, why is it that having attended a public school isn’t considered a protected characteristic? Then, former public school students wouldn’t be able to artificially inflate their numbers among the nation’s top decision-makers.
John Harris’s “posh clique ruling us” analysis is a compelling look at how educational privilege is used to rise to influential positions in society. He then goes on to inform us that he attended Oxford University back in 1989.
In 2011, Chris Elliott, the readers’ editor at the time, tackled this problem. Out of a total of 630 journalists, 178 responded to a Guardian and Observer round robin survey. Seventy-three percent of those who responded attended either Oxford or Cambridge. Three-and-a-half percent of those who responded are graduates of Oxford or Cambridge, which is a sizable percentage for any newspaper, let alone the Guardian.
John brings up a serious but nuanced problem: the infiltration of elitist groups into positions of power. The public schools’ focus on Oxbridge ignores the importance of the many other elite institutions that are also being targeted. That said, I agree with John wholeheartedly that reform and positive discrimination are necessary. It’s intriguing to see where that leaves the Guardian.