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Date: 2024-05-21 Page is: DBtxt003.php txt00024807
UNITED KINGDOM
THE BRITISH ELITE

Former Eton Master admits ‘failure’ in educating ‘entitled’ Tories



Original article: https://leftfootforward.org/2023/06/former-eton-master-admits-failure-in-educating-entitled-tories/
Peter Burgess COMMENTARY
The question of 'entitlement' is far from simple. There have been attempts to simplify the problem over the many years of my lifetime, and they have all gone nowhere because 'people' are complex.

I had a 'good' education in the UK facilitated in part by my parents who were both teachers. My father taught in 'good' schools ofr the first half of his career and became the headmaster of a 'bad' school for the second half. He argued that children who were struggling with education needed really good teachers while 'bright' children who passed the 11+ exam could learn from books with or without much intervention from the teacher.

In my case I went to a small private primary school ... Miss Chey's ... that was really good compared to the 'public' primary school that was quite seriously compromised. I took the 11+ exam when I was 10 years old and did well in the county ranking even though I was a year under-age. I remember an official from the county education department coming to our home to interview me and give me some further 'tests' ... and being mortified when I could not get the answers to the questions 'right' any more. I did not realize that the questions were getting harder and harder and I was being tested until I could no longer handle the questions. I still remember the last math (arithmetic) question which was to multiply in my head one 6 digit number by another 6 digit number. I could not do it and I was mortified !!!!!!!

I went to the local Grammer School a year early and spent 3 years at the school. My father was the head at the local Secondary Modern School. The two schools had little in common in terms of academics, but the two schools played sports against each other ... rugby and cricket. Rugby, of course, is a contact sport and my experience on the Grammar School team play against my Father's school teams was 'interesting' and pretty violent! I think I was 12 when I got kicked in the face and my upper front teeth were pushed through my lower lip. Okehamption is a smallish country town and the local hospital / clinic was closed for the weekend so I could not get 'stitches' ... which was probably a good thing because I don't have any visible scar from the incident, though I still have a small lump inside my mouth. When I was 13 my parents had me take the entrance exams to several good private boarding schools mostly in the West Country. I don't know much about the decision process that went on ... but ended up with a small scholarship to Blundell's School in Tiverton, Devon and spent a very happy five years in these 'high school' years.

Blundells was relatively small with a student body of around 350 boys. Blundell's was an old school ... founded in 1604 on Tiverton by Peter Blundell who was a wealthy textile merchant of the era. Peter Blundell also endowed scholarships at Balliol College, Oxford and Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge ... a relationship that continues to the present time. My years at Blundell's were meorable in many ways, not least was the intense academic competition between my peers and the serious committment the school had to team sports ... cricket and rugby mainly, but we also had the bext school shooting team in the country. I was part of a school rugby team captained by Richard Sharpe who went on to play for the Navy, Oxford University and England. He was Captain of the English team for a very long time ... more than 10 years, I think. My rugby career was more pedestrian, but I did get to play for the English Public Schools team against Scotland in December of 1958. In academic terms, our school cohort did well with more or our year getting into Oxford or Cambridge than any time before or (I believe) since.

These memories have been triggered by the article below and the attitude of Boris Johnson et all who went to Eton. Blundell's and Eton have some things in common, but they are also very different. It muct have been in 1964 severak years after I had left Blundell's that I had an interesting interaction with Eton and Etonians. By that time, I was training (as an articled clerk) with Cooper Brothers & Co in London to become a Chartered Acountant. Christopher Morcher and I were both training with CB & Co and both of us had preciously been at Blundell's playing rugby and at Sidney Susses College as well playing rugby. CB & Co had a good number of old Etonians doing their Articles with the firm ... and in general the old Etonians were further up the social structure than old Blundellisns. But they had a problem .. the Old Etonians were meant to be field a side to play the Eton Ball Game at the upcoming Old Boys Weekend ... and they invited Chris and myself to play on the Old Etonian team against the school. The Eton Ball Game is a weird variant of rugby, constrained by the field at Eton where it is played which has an old wall along one side of the field. The core skills are the same in rugby and the Eton Ball Game, so Chris and I were able to fit in reasonably well ... and we enjoyed the weekend! The Following week at the CB&Co office things got to be very weird because none of the Old Etonians working at Coopers would remember either Chris or I from their time at Eton ... yet we had been very visible during the Old Etonian weekend and therefore we must be Etonians. Our social 'status' changed significantly and stayed elevated for quite a long time, In reality, for me, it was a learning experience not least exposing the thin veneer or competence or not that tends to get in the way of decent social interaction.
Peter Burgess
Former Eton Master admits ‘failure’ in educating ‘entitled’ Tories

Written by Basit Mahmood ... Left Foot Forward

14 June, 2023

'They have harmed the 'very fabric of the country'.

Finally, someone has called a spade a spade. A former Master of Eton College has admitted that the school failed to rein in entitled Tories such as Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Kwasi Kwarteng, whose sense of entitlement has harmed the ‘very fabric of the country’.

In a scathing letter to the Times, John Claughton, who was a master at Eton from 1984 to 2001, said that the school, which has educated 20 Prime Ministers, now had a mission to ‘ensure that its pupils are saved from the sense of privilege, entitlement and omniscience that can produce alumni such as Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Kwasi Kwarteng and Ben Elliot and thereby damage a country’s very fabric.’

Claughton goes on to add: “Sadly, I failed in that purpose.”

Previously, a letter complaining about Boris Johnson’s “effortless superiority” from one of his teachers at Eton was made public.

The report, from classics master Martin Hammond to Stanley Johnson in 1982, criticised the 17-year-old for thinking he should be free of the “network of obligation that binds everyone”. The teacher also said Johnson “believes it is churlish of us not to regard him as an exception”.

Johnson, who has a history of lying and law breaking quit as an MP in disgrace last week, in the wake of a damning report by the Privileges Committee that is expected to find he deliberately misled MPs during the pandemic.

Among his biggest cheerleaders and someone who is so out of touch with the rest of the country is Jacob Rees-Mogg, who Johnson decided to hand a knighthood to in his disgraceful honours list last week.

Kwarteng meanwhile has repeatedly refused to apologise for the disastrous policies contained in his mini-budget which sent the financial markets into turmoil and also caused an increase in mortgage costs.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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