On the naughty step - Conduct that deserves a ticking off

3rd May 2013 at 01:00

This week: Eton's 'ethos'

Eton College, near Windsor in England, is possibly the most famous school in the world, its alumni a veritable who's who in the worlds of politics, entertainment, science and literature.

Given its track record, perhaps lessons in humility are not the most important part of Eton's timetable. And it seems that Jesse Norman, a British politician and Old Etonian, could do with a few pointers.

This week, Mr Norman said the reason that so many of the school's former students have risen to the top of the political game - including UK prime minister David Cameron - is that Eton instils an ethos of "public service", which is lacking in other schools.

Mr Norman, recently installed as a policy adviser to the prime minister, did add that "of course, the pupils are highly privileged". But that didn't stop an onslaught of criticism from schools - state and private - keen to point out their own commitment to working in the community.

Teachers also argued that running the country isn't quite the same selfless commitment to public service as marking 13-year-olds' history homework.

He might view himself as a compassionate Conservative but Mr Norman isn't always as sensitive as he should be. So for that we send his talk of Eton's "ethos" to the naughty step.

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