The problem here is that the problem is so enormous. Of course, Fiona Millar is right, the Sutton Trust recommendations are the merest tinkering; no, they are promoting the existing hierarchy disguised as well-intentioned tinkering. I have great respect for her for reminding us, repeatedly, that comprehensive schools cannot really be comprehensive when too many selective parallel options exist. And that this selection is not just academic or financial (grammars or fee-paying schools); it’s also about faith, social class, race & ethnicity and all the other things which divide us as a city, a country, a society.
And as long as those divisions exist, as brazenly as they do, no-one with a vested interest in maintaining their infrastructure is really going to get behind the promotion of comprehensive education, comprehensive social life, comprehensive services or comprehensive anything else, with the possible exception of the NHS. One way or another, we all have vested interests, or believe that we do, so long as social divisions seem God-given, as immutable as axioms of science.
Perhaps they are, in Britain at least. Good local comprehensive schools offering high standards of everything is what without a shadow of a doubt we all need for our children; and even more importantly, what Britain needs as a whole. But so long as the rest of British society is so resolutely uncomprehensive, here I go agonising along with all the other precious middle-class mums about how best to squeeze, bribe, barter my little darling into the best possible niche-option I can afford . . . a nice little school for sensitive mixed-race kids with middle class accents only, please. I hate myself for it; I know it’s counter-productive, but I can’t help myself.