Is there a 'Posh Ceiling'?

There was a series of article in Guardian G2 about this on 16/6/15. This letter is a response.
I went to a public school but ran away when I was 15 and chose not to go to university, yet have somehow survived the vicissitudes of 50 years as a freelance in a largely graduate environment. People take me to be an upper-middle-class graduate, which I’m not. As a result I see both sides of the ‘posh’ argument, simply finding both as useful guises for achieving certain objectives.

The distinction between governors and the governed comes down to one phrase: awareness of choice. Those whose education has involved any time at an independent school become aware of how they have choices—regardless of their parents wealth or status—by the simple fact that they have escaped the ‘one size fits all’ mental sausage-production-line that is modern state education. They also escape the constant movement of goalposts, beloved of all Gove-rnments, which so harm coherent teaching; and thus learn with more depth and continuity.

From this pupils with any wits assimilate the basic lessons of thinking outside the box - which is what makes them exceptionally employable at an executive level. That is the open secret of private education … and poshness. The British class system is far more permeable and nuanced than the articles allowed; and the key to it is a kind of mental flexibility which is almost impossible to learn within the rigid framework of the National Curriculum. Successive Education Ministers believe that ‘standards can be driven up’ by diktat and testing. In reality this covers up a sophisticated mechanism for manufacturing conformity and consent among those destined to be governed. Independence of thought is a cultural transmission that can only be taught by those who have themselves been raised within its liberal traditions. And my regretful conclusion after a lifetime of commitment to egalitarian ideals is that scholarship, public service and cultural continuity are better served by those educated within what is thought of as a posh environment, where traditions of cultural awareness and free-thinking are preserved, than one driven by targets, educational fashion – and cuts.  

Put another way: we could have a society where everyone is encouraged to achieve personal excellence, be it academic or technical, but this would involve levels of state resourcing comparable to that private education commands. (The ILEA came closest to this, and that made it top of Mrs Thatcher’s hit list.) It would end the myth of poshness in a generation, but time and again the British public is mesmerised by the chimera of lower taxes—which serve mainly the rich—to vote against its own longterm interest.

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