Letter : It's not what you know...

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The Independent Online
Sir: It was heartwarming to read your account of the many successful state schools in our leafier regions ("If the state school is fine, why pay?", 26 September). What also needs to be stressed is the similarly outstanding record of many inner-city comprehensives in less fashionable locations.

My partner is the product of one such school. His excellent exam results enabled him to rise above his parents' expectations. Several years ago he founded his own practice and both he and his partners are innovative and hard-working. Yet so often prestigious accounts are "won" by companies with "old school tie" connections.

The real reason why so many parents opt for private education from the age of two-and-a-half has less to do with education than the social advantages. Connections are made and bonds are forged that can ease a person's passage through an increasingly competitive world.

My partner is not bitter, though certainly disillusioned. We both appreciate that there are excellent private schools and truly awful state schools in England, but while the "value-added" element of our class system continues to be ignored, equality of opportunity and genuine parental choice remain a farce.

STELLA NORMAN

London SW12

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