The colours of money

26th March 2004 at 00:00
Fiona Millar's Channel 4 programme, The Best for My Child, had a point.

State schools would improve if more of the able and motivated children were not creamed off into the private sector.

The programme was still disappointing, however, for snobbery was conspicuous by its absence. Could the programme's researchers only find reluctant and guilt-burdened parents with their worthy motives? I suggest that they turn their attention to Edinburgh. There, not only tough schools, but excellent neighbourhood comprehensives lose droves of middle class pupils to independent schools.

While the interviewees were obsessed by education, education, education, there are some parents in the capital more interested in purchasing advantage, privilege and exclusiveness. Inclusiveness may be the school rule elsewhere, but fee-paying schools favour selection and, if necessary, expulsion.

Parents can bask in the reflected glory of their children's uniform. The blazer of each trophy child is colour-coded according to parental or, increasingly, grandparental means. A bonus is that all generations of the family can attend functions and sports in grand buildings and on swathes of green urban land which enjoy charitable status.

FPs are forever. Once the parent has invested in the fees, the child is a Fettesian, Watsonian or Merchant Maiden to the end of its days. Pupils learn to talk the talk and can soon pronounce "Academy" as if all its vowels were "e"s. Posh schools polish.

The sooner Fiona Millar makes a documentary about the only city in Scotland in which the parents of one quarter of the pupils are buying into a lifestyle, the better.

Jean Macleod Perth Road Dundee

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