An education in privilege for Tory leadership hopefuls | Letters

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The Guardian

As the former chair of governors at Jubilee primary school, where Kemi Badenoch was a governor, I am shocked that she can say resources can be saved from “superfluous support staff and peripheral activities” in schools (Culture warrior Kemi Badenoch is already a winner with Tory right, 13 July).

As she will know from her time at the school, which serves some of the most deprived parts of Brixton, south London, there are no superfluous support staff. Teaching assistants play a vital role in aiding teachers in classes where many of the children come from highly disadvantaged backgrounds and need all the help they can get. Some are allocated to specific children as part of their educational needs assessment. There are no unnecessary office staff.

I do not know what she means by peripheral activities. If she means depriving children of sport or music opportunities, then that is shameful. To my recollection, at no point during her time as a governor did Ms Badenoch ever propose cuts in staff or activities for our children. She knew then that it would be unacceptable. It’s even more wrong now, when state schools are struggling for funds following Covid, with much already cut to the bone.

Ms Badenoch’s position is surprising for someone who was equalities minister. Cuts of this sort would inevitably lead to a widening of the gulf between the poorest in our society and those who attend private schools. Ms Badenoch’s war on woke appears to mean a war on some of the most underprivileged and vulnerable in our society for her own political and personal gain.
Nick Toms
Brixton, London

So Liz Truss, our foreign secretary and one of the candidates for the Conservative party leadership, considers that Roundhay school, where she was a pupil in the 1990s, provided poor-quality education and let pupils down (Liz Truss criticised for saying her Leeds school ‘let down’ children, 13 July). That’s not what I remember when we played cricket against Roundhay in my days attending a nearby direct grant grammar school.

Roundhay was considered to be an excellent establishment located in a constituency whose MP was no less than the (in?)famous Tory and Thatcher acolyte Sir Keith Joseph. I am unaware of any decline of its reputation as time passed and she commenced her attendance at the school.

The school then helped the foreign secretary win a place at Merton College, Oxford, an institution that I also attended, though there I did not benefit from the experience of meeting the university examiners’ requirements for the award of a BA (Hons) degree in politics, philosophy and economics.

So am I alone in wondering how the foreign secretary’s schooling was so poor as she claims, and also quite how she views her undergraduate education, given that the greatest leaders do always bring some truth to power?
Prof John Dainton
Manchester

Liz Truss says that her mission in politics is to ensure that every child’s success in life depends “solely on their hard work and talents, not their background or where they are from”. Does that mean she intends to eradicate the old school tie network that ensures so many of the talentless end up running the country?
Alison Hallum
Tonbridge, Kent

July 14, 2022 at 10:39PM Letters

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