Cheating, deception, corporate misconduct, stealing, harassing, lying, damaging the environment for profit, selling weapons that hurt the vulnerable, price fixing…
The list of unethical behaviours conducted by the rich and powerful is very long indeed.
You would think that considering our top jobs are pretty much run by privately educated people coming from elite establishments this wouldn’t be the case. That somehow there would also be a strong moral code that seeped out from the history soaked walls of these illustrious places and that the most privileged would spend their lives upholding the principles of the greatest philanthropists. A ‘universal code of moral conduct’ that aligns with the call made this week at Wellington College during their annual Education Festival by Akala (an inclusion campaigner) for a ‘universal code’ on exclusions. There’s good reason for this. Akala argued that our perception of children’s behaviours, intellectual capacity and place in society unfairly impacts upon their chances to succeed.
He has a strong argument. This week a few reports caught my eye.
The Sutton Trust and Social Mobility Commission both found that a small band of privately educated people dominate high ranking jobs. We saw a bunch of them competing for the top job in the country, Prime Minister, recently. Akala goes on to say, “Children of lords and ladies, millionaires, kids from the council estate, all in the same school. The children who were bringing the drugs in to school were never arrested, were never searched and are now lawyers and barristers putting people away for drugs’ or in Michael Gove’s case getting them banned from the teaching profession for life.
The fact that no right thinking person genuinely believes that the current crop of contenders for running our country, at a time of huge need for strong, honest and ethical leadership, is based on an altruistic desire says much about how a lack of trust has grown out of the inequalities of modern Britain. It seems that rich privileged people can tear this country to pieces for personal gain and still have the people believe they are ‘one of us’. This tells us a story that illustrates everything that is wrong with the propaganda of power and privilege taken too far.
The average per pupil funding in the UK is so variable its already a joke. It’s even worse when you are a primary and worse still if you are based in Somerset. The average private school fees are said to be £17,000 per year (You could educate at least 5 Somerset primary children on this). It’s important to remember that this is on top of the fact that the government funds private education by at least 2.5 billion a year and also offer additional monetary incentives. I have seen it argued that our lorded private school system is the envy of the world and saves the state about 3 billion a year due to savings in the education budget. I’d argue that those savings are not as obvious when you look at the additional funding and the number of people who are able to access this education. I could go deeper and acknowledge that private schools serve the wealthiest in society – when we then look at HMRC statistics and see that unpaid TAX is at least 2.5 billion and every year at least 30 billion in TAX is not collected I again have to ask – what have our wealthiest learnt from their private school education?
At a time when top health advisors (Not that we trust advisors or experts of course) are saying that the average life expectancy in the UK has at least plateaued – (when in other developed countries it is still rising) and our national debt is second only to America – the equality gap in the UK disgraces us all. When leaders step forward to take control of our direction as a country and they clearly have no real understanding of what they need to do, or mandate from millions upon millions… it then becomes more than a disgrace – it becomes a disaster. I would say that the people who can advert that disaster need a strategy along with a moral backbone – they need a nobility of cause that rises above party politics and egocentric reflections. I just wish I had that trust in our system and the people fortunate enough to be within it.
It would seem that the most common crime within our prison system is illiteracy with another Sutton Trust report from 2017 saying that half of the people in our prisons are functionally illiterate. The average cost of sending someone to prison for the year is £22,933 according to the UK prison population statistics. This is a lot more than the average yearly fee to a private school. This is what I mean by a strategy with a moral backbone. It will take a brave leader to right the inequalities that are rife within our UK education system. Inequalities that schools cannot tackle alone. The best state schools now perform as well as the best private schools – on at least a third of the funding. Imagine if we were able to look in to the future and support those that go on to commit crimes and show them another way through an education system that could meet their needs or better still; spend private school amounts on those that need it the most? Imagine if we ensured that illiteracy was not the most common crime within our prison system. Imagine if the most common crime was tax fraud, corporate misconduct or misuse of public funds? I know – crazy thinking…