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Amazing discovery: class divides Britain’s schools

Why would anyone expect the Britain’s schools to be an exception to the principle that everything in the country is divided by class lines? Its food. Its way of speaking. The music it listens to. The sports it plays and watches. The clothes it wears. What it reads. Its health. Its weight, even.

Today’s report from the Sutton Trust, based on research by the University of Buckingham and published today, Worlds Apart notes that despite 20 years of education reforms most of Britain’s schools are still deeply divided along class lines. The surprising thing is that anyone is surprised.

The primary division in any country is one of economic status. That is locked into the structure of land ownership. In Britain, the assets that really count remain mostly in the hands of hereditary owners, corporations and the banks. How many households own their homes outright? How many people own their own businesses and the premises they operate from?

The Sutton Trust’s remedy is selection by lottery. That will merely widen the divide, since those that can afford to will continue to opt out of the state system, which will go on declining. If nothing is done to close the gap between those who own land and those who do not, then nothing else can change. Fiddling with the education system is dangerous and probably harmful tinkering.