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Guardian & Observer hypocrite Carole Cadwalladr & the myth of working class comprehensives

Tom Winnifrith
Sunday 5 June 2016

Via twitter I come across a couple of articles by lefty Guardian and Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr slating the posh and the way that privileged Oxbridge types dominate the media and politics. Carole is good enough to admit that she went to Oxford (a year below me and at the same college, as it happens) but insists that she is not part of the elite as she went to a state school - Radyr in South Wales.

Naturally, we posh twits who went to public school are now expected to listen to every word Carole writes on the matter of privilege because she has worked her way up from the grinding poverty of living in an abandoned coal mine with her 15 brothers and sisters eating rats. Heck, as she proudly boasts, she went to a Compy after all. Except that there are comprehensives and there are comprehensives.

Radyr seems to be in well heeled catchment area in Cardiff. It has far fewer ethnic minority pupils than other schools in an overwhelmingly white City. Fewer than 7% of its pupils are entitled to free school meals which is way down on local and national averages. 63% of its students get at least one offer to a Russell Group University and its results at all ages and all subjects are streets ahead of Welsh and City averages. Last year the school's dry skiing team won the Welsh championships and I am delighted to see that two of its fencers represented Wales.

Radyr pupils clearly don't slum it and that tallies well with my recollection of a younger Carole who was obviously pretty middle class. So a middle class girl went to a top of the range State school while I went to a minor public school where there were no opportunities to ski or fence. And we both ended up at Oxford. We both enjoyed a privileged start in life but only one of us is prepared to admit it.

Luckily, since nearly everyone else writing at the Guardian went to public schools and feels really guilty about it, they probably think that all Comprehensives are, hopeless failing institutions attended by the offspring of an oppressed underclass, perennially persecuted by wicked Tories like Maggie Thatcher. And thus Carole is able to play the "under-privileged working class background card" without any of her colleagues realising how utterly bogus it is.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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