When Michael Gove was selling his school reforms a decade ago he was asked to define success. ‘I hope that thanks to the reforms we’ve introduced the next Guardian editor but three will be a comprehensive school boy or girl.’ It was his little joke: that the loudest critics of private schools, the people who rail against the injustice of the whole system, tend to be people who went to these schools.
There is a long tradition of books by public schoolboys decrying public schools. The latest is Sad Little Men: Private Schools and the Ruin of England whose author, Richard Beard, went first to Pinewood, a prep school on the Wiltshire/Oxfordshire border, and then the £41,700-a-year Radley College. The gist of his argument is that former private school boys like him ended up running Britain (Boris Johnson, David Cameron, George Osborne, Rishi Sunak) and he wants to expose the rotten, snobbish system that produced them all.