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On the naughty step - conduct that deserves a ticking off

This week: edu-envy

This week: edu-envy

Teachers at private schools might feel a little miffed this week after being told that their jobs are an "easy gig".

Sure, their students are mainly from affluent homes, with highly engaged and motivated parents. Yes, private school teachers often work in institutions with theatres, swimming pools and equestrian centres. OK, they generally get better holidays than their state school colleagues. And they don't need qualifications. Oh, and class sizes are smaller. But an easy gig? Steady on, old chap.

The transgressor who labelled private school teachers' jobs a walk in the park was none other than Tristram Hunt, England's shadow education secretary, who himself attended a private school as a boy.

Teachers at such schools have small classes of "nice boys and girls", he said, perhaps remembering himself as a child, while state schools have to cope with classes of up to 30 children in "more challenging circumstances".

Well, there may be a bit of truth in that. But stirring up educational envy is not going to help either Cassandra or Chardonnay to succeed in their exams. So stop worrying about what's happening over the fence, Mr H, and focus on what can be done to improve education for all. And do 40 laps of the lacrosse pitch while you're thinking about it.

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