Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The political education of Chris Bryant

The 18 January issue of The House Magazine has an interview with Chris Bryant, the Europe minister. That interview, which does not appear to be online, touches on education in a couple of places.

In the first of them Bryant passes lightly over his own schooling:
We lived in Cardiff until I was seven, when we moved to Spain. I was sent to boarding school in Scotland, and then to Cheltenham.
That is Cheltenham College, the leading public school (current boarding fees £9,270 per term).

Later Bryant writes:
After my ordination I worked as a curate in High Wycombe. The grammar school there was almost entirely white, and the secondary modern was almost entirely black. I didn't understand this education system that determined success and failure by the age of 11.
An education system that divides children by income at the age of 7, however, seems less worthy of comment or condemnation.

I doubt that there were many Black children at a Scottish prep school in the sixties or at Cheltenham after that, but this state of affairs does not seem to have radicalised the young Bryant or to be thought worthy of comment now.

And don't think I am being unfair to Bryant: you can bet the terminally respectful House Magazine gave him the chance to approve the interview before it was published.

His view are typical of the modern Labour Party in that he sees selection by ability as anathema but is unable to summon any indignation at selection by income. It's an odd position for a party of the left.

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