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Michael Gove warns of unequal society at Brighton teachers' conference
4:17pm Friday 11th May 2012 in News
Private school graduates are still dominating positions of wealth and power in the UK’s “profoundly unequal” society, Michael Gove has warned at a teachers’ conference.
The Education Secretary raised concerns that parentage is still dictating a youngster’s progress, with poor children likely to stay poor while the rich remain rich.
This is “morally indefensible” and fails to make the most of the abilities of the nation’s children, he said.
In a speech to private school heads at Brighton College Mr Gove said: “It is remarkable how many positions of wealth, influence, celebrity and power in our society are held by individuals who were privately educated.”
The majority of Cabinet ministers and many of the shadow cabinet attended fee-paying schools, he said.
Private schools are also “handsomely represented” in the Supreme Court, the medical profession and the media.
And the stranglehold has not abated, Mr Gove suggested. Evidence shows that in sport there are many cricketers, rugby players and Olympians who were privately educated.
Mr Gove said he was not criticising private schools or individuals who have attended them.
But he added: “The sheer scale, the breadth and the depth, of private school dominance of our society points to a deep problem in our country – one we all acknowledge but have still failed to tackle with anything like the radicalism required.
“We live in a profoundly unequal society. More than almost any developed nation, ours is a country in which your parentage dictates your progress.
"Those who are born poor are more likely to stay poor and those who inherit privilege are more likely to pass on privilege in England than in any comparable country.
"For those of us who believe in social justice this stratification and segregation are morally indefensible.”
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