The rich have introduced a form of reverse class envy into education

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The Independent Online

I can't believe that many people will actually go as far as carrying out their threat. But the bitter mutterings among competitive parents are still testament to a mindset which shrieks of blind, greedy entitlement, no matter who or what gets trampled as the rich and the privileged ramraid the pieshop.

I can't believe that many people will actually go as far as carrying out their threat. But the bitter mutterings among competitive parents are still testament to a mindset which shrieks of blind, greedy entitlement, no matter who or what gets trampled as the rich and the privileged ramraid the pieshop.

Concerned about government attempts to address the fact that the privately educated are at a fulsome advantage when it comes to seeking a university place, many parents are banging on about how they're going to hoick their kids out of private school at 16, then send them to state school to sit A-levels.

This way, they reckon, their children will benefit from an elite education for most of their schooldays, but will still be looked upon with charitable pity when university admissions officers note that little Ben is applying to Oxbridge (please, God) from a troubled comprehensive with a modest academic record.

This plan is absurd. Practically, it is absurd because it assumes that classes double the size, budgets half the size, classmates more likely to suffer poverty, social problems and anti-academic peer pressure - are unlikely to adversely affect little Ben at this sensitive time. The poor child is unlikely to benefit from his family's attempts at gerrymandering. (And if he does, then why send him to private school in the first place?)

But it is also absurd because it displays a sort of counter-intuitive class envy that is becoming more prevalent. The rich really do believe, despite the fact that they are richer and more numerous than ever, despite the fact that it has never been more fashionable to be awfully rich, that actually, everyone is against them.

They resent that they "have to" pay twice for their healthcare, the education of their children, their security, and so on, simply because they want the best of everything, while the ordinary taxpayer using public services has to settle for what's on offer. And they hate the smallest suggestion that their money can't buy everything after all.

I don't defend the lamentable standards in sections of the state sector. I don't admire the appalling result of it, which means that bright pupils from modest backgrounds will be treated now with suspicion rather than admiration if they get to elite universities previously reserved for the privately educated. But I do have to point out that it isn't little Ben who gets the bum deal here; it's all the kids who end up at 16 thinking they're thick when in fact they're just not suitably docile fodder for a pile 'em high, teach 'em cheap mass education system, that values bureaucracy and rules but is rather less enamoured of teachers and their pupils.

If ever there was a teacher who seems unenamoured of her pupils, it is Sarah Forsyth, the Eton art mistress whose unfair dismissal case against the top private school seems only to confirm that the woman is too stupid and too amoral to be a teacher.

It appears she was happy to do Prince Harry's course work for him, as long as she was given a full-time contract in return. When the post she wanted was not forthcoming, she gathered unconvincing evidence in order to snare the prince.

Doesn't she feel that helping someone to cheat his way into a future which may involve leading battalions of men into dangerous, life-threatening situations, is just wrong anyway, no matter how your employer is otherwise treating you? Whatever the truth, the picture is not pretty.

The cruel truth behind our 'liberated' sexuality

Sex Traffic, the two-part drama series now showing on Channel Four, is an interesting hybrid. Glossy production values and a slick mini-series-style plot, combine with didactic drama-documentary strands which reconstruct faithfully real events of appalling inhumanity and cruelty.

Amnesty International, Antislavery International and Unicef, are backing the show, and have all published guidelines in tandem with the programme. They hope that these will be taken up by those charged with drawing up the European Convention on Trafficking.

Their recommendations need to be adopted immediately and with passionate commitment. Will a television drama help this to happen? I'm not sure. Watching, the sequences following the two trafficked girls were unbearably painful, while the political stuff implicating the UN in trafficking seemed far-fetched. It looked too much like wild Hollywood conspiracy drama, even though it too, is firmly rooted in fact.

Do the two aspects of modern culture - the glib cliché of television entertainment and the pitiless vileness of international forced prostitution - sit usefully together?

Let's hope so, because we can't stop ignoring the painful contradictions of our supposedly liberated sexual culture. When a nation as deeply implicated in sex trafficking as Britain rushes out to purchase T-shirts saying "Fcuk" for its children, we ought to know how urgent the need for change has become.

¿ BACK IN the mists of time, I recall Paula Yates explaining that her husband had pretty much forced her into becoming a journalist, because he complained about her sitting around the house all the time with nothing to do except adore him. She started writing for the glossies, then presenting television programmes. Soon she was quite the celebrity in her own right, and her husband's own TV production company employed her as an interviewer. One fine morning, she found herself interviewing a much more successful pop star than her husband. Can this be one of the reasons why Sir Bob now believes that women are better off staying at home? I think yes. Which is a shame, because the real lesson was for him to keep his big mouth shut when it comes to domestic gender issues.

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