Middle-class parents accused of moral hypocrisy

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Parents at Tetherdown Primary School are proud of their contribution to its resources after raising £8,000 to refurbish the library and launch a project to landscape the playground.

But they were instead accused yesterday, along with thousands of other middle-class parents, of being "the worst moral hypocrites", and guilty of abusing a public service. Their crime, said Anthony Seldon, biographer of Tony Blair and headmaster of Brighton College, a public school, is to have paid over the odds in Britain's hyper-inflated property market to ensure their children attend the best state schools.

Dr Seldon made his comments in a speech to a conference in London yesterday.

Tetherdown scored the maximum 100 per cent in national tests for 11-year-olds. Parents who cannot afford to buy a house within half a mile of the school find it difficult to secure their children a place. Properties in the area have an average price tag of £700,000.Estate agents estimate the premium on a property within the catchment area is as much as 35 per cent.

Maree Macfarlane, 37, whose five-year-old son started at the school last September, said: "As a parent you do whatever you can to give your child a good start in life."

Dr Seldon said that Tetherdown's success was part of a ghettoisation of state schools with the affluent flexing their economic muscle to "get away from the great unwashed".

Louisa Gosling, 43, whose son started at Tetherdown after the family moved from a part of London with schools further down the league tables, said that any such trend was wholly unnecessary. She said: "My son... has benefited from a diversity of backgrounds and cultures at his previous school which you simply don't get here. It's 98 per cent white and middle class."