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Sunday, 5 August 2012

Toby Young, You Are Dead Wrong

After clueless bigot Rick Dewsbury had his rant pulled by MailOnline (most presciently, given that his suggestion of an educated mixed race family being hard to find was disproved when the product of such a household won gold for Team GB in the womens’ heptathlon yesterday evening), the argument on sport has flared up again over many medallists having attended private schools.

Tobes organising another piss-up

And the latest pundit to have his ninepence worth on the subject is the loathsome Toby Young, now ensconced at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, but only for reasons of cultural enhancement and journalistic development, you understand, and not at all anything to do with Rupe’s troops bunging him More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now.

Tobes says that private schools have better sports facilities than yer average comprehensive, and when it’s a case of Eton versus the rest, he has a point. But his suggestion that Young Dave’s alma mater is “the most famous public school in the world” is rubbish. There’s Rugby for starters, where they invented a style of football marginally more popular than the Eton Wall Game.

And what about Gordonstoun, attended by Phil the Greek and Prince Brian? Or Harrow, whose old boys include Winshton? The thought enters that the only reason that Tobes cites Eton is because of their lavish facilities. This is coupled with the idea that state schools do not encourage competition in sport, but perhaps he was not paying attention to last night’s events in the Olympic stadium.

Team GB’s gold medal haul had previously been enhanced by Victoria Pendleton, who attended a comprehensive school. The evening was kicked into life by gold for Jessica Ennis, who also attended a comprehensive school, before Greg Rutherford, who, yes, went to a comprehensive, also won gold, before Mo Farah, also a product of the comprehensive system, took yet another gold.

So the idea that state schools equals no competition really is complete and absolute crap (swimmer Rebecca Adlington also attended a state comprehensive). Why is Tobes so fixated on the idea? Well, apart from ideology – which holds that anything that comes from state provision is A Very Bad Thing – he has the small matter of his own very wonderful new “free school” to promote.

So he has to paint state schools as inherently bad to make his place look a better proposition for the parents of likely pupils. Yes, his “free school” does competitive sport, although the example he gives, netball, gets along without Eton-style rowing lakes. And he doesn’t mention how his school does the sports that got Team GB those medals last night better, or indeed at all.

So it’s not much more than a lame hatchet job. No change there, then.


Anonymous said...

You've got it in one. It's not that those who go to state comprehensives are less able to perform well in sport, or that they have teachers less committed to bringing out the best in them, it's rather that those who go to state comprehensives are denied the facilities that the parents pay for in Public Schools.

The selling off of school sports fields was part of the problem, and the most recent daisy-cutter attack by the Tory government on the schools building programme initiated by Labour will just propound the problem.

If there is a differential between the numbers of athletes from state comprehensives and the numbers of athletes from public schools, it is down to the difference in facilities available to the students. That can be changed by a forward thinking and enlightened government that isn't trying to entrench class differentials.

On this basis, Toby Young's school isn't going to produce very much in the way of sporting prowress at all, as it has very few sporting facilities available to the students.

Anonymous said...

In case you think I'm being unfair, here's the website for Toby Young's school, and in particular, the section relating to after-school activities:


See? No sports, and the parents are asked to pay, to help out, as well. This is all very well and good if you have a parent-body that can afford to pay, but isn't much cop for most of the population struggling to pay for school uniform, food and transport

Tom said...

Toby's school (which I've visited in its present form, and I used to live in the area, so know the new building too) has no outside sports facilities barring what looked like a basketball court at the first site. The gym had the usual climbing bars and ropes and stuff but also had little A4 sheets telling the pupils about how good the South Africans and Australians were at sport.

I suspect that may need to be revised after a quick shufti at the current medal table.