Yes, Owen Jones is an idiot

More than half of the top 100 media professionals in Britain hail from private schools, even though only 7% of Britons are privately educated. Amongst court judges, the figure surges to 71%; in the senior armed forces it approaches two thirds.

Officering in HM Armed Forces is rather a familial affair. There really are such things as “Army families” and “Navy families”.

And one of the ways that British officers are paid is in a substantial subsidy to boarding school fees for their children. So, the combination of inheritance by choice of serving, plus the way the previous generation get paid, leads to a substantial increase, above that of the general population, of public schoolboys in the senior ranks of the services.

Sigh.

41 thoughts on “Yes, Owen Jones is an idiot”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    A lot of the boarding schools used have strong links with the services and run various cadet schemes which further inculcates a desire to serve.

  2. More than half of the top 100 media professionals in Britain hail from private schools

    He ought to take this up with his employer then, not harangue the rest of us.

  3. OK, so Owen Jones writes that public school educated people are vastly over-represented in the armed forces.

    You appear to agree with him.

    So I’m a little confused about why you’re calling Jones an idiot (at least in this case: I acknowlege it might be clearer in others!)

  4. I happen to know judges, senior media professionals and Army officers, and one thing they have in common is that they are well-educated, intelligent and quick-thinking people (yes, even the Army officers).

    Jones would do well to aim at least some of his fire at the state educational system that turns out a disproportionate number of illiterate simpletons.

    You really don’t want judges who can’t understand stuff, or Army officers who can’t think on their feet (though you still get them). I can’t make such a convincing case re the media, I must admit.

  5. All his stats show to me is that public schools do a better job of churning out well educated adults than do state schools.

  6. First off, there’s a hint of conspiracy. New research from the social mobility and child poverty commission reveals the privileged choose and look after their own: they don’t like accents that sound a bit, well, “common”.

    In the same way that if you didn’t have a father or uncle at the pit, you couldn’t get a job there? Or the print works? Or the ship yards? Not nice jobs, all of them – though some were OK, and highly paid – but the exclusionary principe was the same.

    They like people who go on gap years. When I was at Oxford university, “gap-year crew” was a catch-all phrase for those from the most extravagantly well-off backgrounds, because finding yourself in Uruguay costs more than a few pennies.

    So stop people helping their kids go to Uruguay?

    In Britain, in 2015, employers are giving interviewees the once-over and deciding they’re distinctly too proletarian for their oh-so sophisticated workplaces.

    If you want bright, engaged, articulate, focused, well-mannerd teenagers, the sad truth is that many of them are unemployable, and actually you really don’t want them representing your business. They may also not be able to handle the sophistication, it’s true.

    There’s a more subtle, but even more damaging, culprit: the grotesque inequality that not only scars our society, but defines it. It begins from birth. The child from a poor background has a birthweight lower than a child from a better- off background.

    Why would that be? Also, how do you fix it?

    If you grow up in an overcrowded home – as does one in four young Londoners – your wellbeing and educational attainment will be damaged.

    If your mother has a habit of leaving or being left by every man she meets as soon as he knocks her up, and if she continually makes the mistake of assuming that the way to tie a man to her is to get knocked up by him, you are likely to live in a crowded home.

    If your parents are married, and think ahead, chances are you will be one of two children they will have. Yes, we all know aristos have five kids, but mostly they don’t.

    Then there are the effects of poor diet and the general stresses of poverty.

    I’m sure these exist. I’m equally sure that a lot of ‘poor’ people don’t do the things they should do to minimise the effects.

    “Cultural capital” – such as the children of middle-class, university-educated parents being exposed to a broader vocabulary from day one – has an impact, too. By the age of five, those with affluent parents can have a vocabulary 18 months ahead of their poorer peers.

    And why the fuck is this, Owen?

    Could it be two parents who talk to their kids, who tuck them in at night with a book, and take them places?

    Conversation costs nothing, books cost next to nothing, and if you live in London, there’s a world of free cultural stuff on your doorstep.

    Yet every time I go to the National Gallery I see foreign tourists and well-dressed Brits. If there’s no inherent reason for this, what else is in play?

    In some (not all) cases, the parents of our poor kids are lazy fuckers who see their kids as cash cows and inconveniences..

  7. writing in the Guardian which has recently appointed its first-ever state-educated editor (although it is a selective grammar and after being head girl she went on to Oxford)

  8. Sebastian Weetabix

    Officers get this perk of subsidised boarding schools, quite rightly, because being posted somewhere new every 12-18 months can be very disruptive to schooling. The other ranks? Well, not so much… hewers of wood and drawers of water, you see.

  9. Nice fisk of SJW Ownen, Interested. Trouble is, by concentrating on the gulf between the loaded & the poverty stricken, the more common problem gets overlooked.
    Sebastian Breakfast-Cereal hints at it.
    It’s the simple gap between first & second generation money. The parents whose own struggle to provide the necessities of life doesn’t leave a surplus to get their kids privately educated. So that generation are disadvantaged against the children of parents whose own parents were better off. Provided the financial launch pad to join the privileged.

  10. “The scourge of unpaid internships has helped turn professions (such as my own, the media) into playgrounds for the privileged. Want to become a journalist? You may well find yourself expected to work for free for months, or longer, with no promise of a job at the end of it.”

    Owen has completely misunderstood why this is a good thing.

    We don’t want poor kids going to university, spending £30K getting a degree in journalism to end up in most cases as skint as some of those Guardian CIF writers (and those are the ones that to some extent made it). We want rich kids spending their family’s money trying to make it, subsidising journalism. We want the poor kids doing engineering and software (and software is the closest thing to a meritocracy that I’ve seen).

  11. So if private schools turn out the better leaders, professionals etc why is that a bad thing?
    Not all of those who go to private school will do well but likely greater chance.
    My older sister went to a state school, homework over 5 years about an hour. My homework was 15 – 20 times that per week!
    The kids I was at school with – in their 40s now – doing pretty well.

  12. Listening to the lass who ran the survey Interested quoted Jones referring to speaking about it on the wireless on the way into work yesterday, while the headlines are “selection on accent”, this was based on the finding was big companies get 70% of their grad intake from Russell Gp unis; this is seen as having a knock on effect of a hererogeous pool of grads, because of the sort of people who go to the better universities, because it’s more cost effective to go to where sufficiently good candidates are clustered than trawling every ex-poly for the jewels who may well be hidden there. Which rather shoots down Jones’s idea companies are discriminating against the proles and backs Interested’s point that kids not getting a good start and schooling inevitably hurts their chances.

    On Contiuity of Education Allowance, there is no rank qualification; I’d have expected an EngO to know that! From JSP 752, pers are eligible if “They are serving on a Regular Engagement and are in receipt of full UK Service rates of pay. They are not due for normal discharge within 12 months nor have they submitted an application for Early Termination at the time of the initial application . The period of residual service is to be assessed from the date on which payment of CEA would have fallen due” plus various other personal/posting criteria, none rank related.

  13. What about Jones’ other employer – BBC. There are seven executive members on the Executive Board – five men, two women. All the men went to independent schools and then Oxbridge. Helen Boarden went to a grammar school and then Sussex. I can’t find Anne Bulford’s school, she went to UCL.
    p.s. All of them are white.

  14. Owen is probably right here about a bias in the system.

    Let’s say that 90% of the 7% privately educated kids are “talented”. That’s 6.3% of the total.

    Now lets say that 10% of the 93% state educated kids are “talented”. That’s 9.3% of the total.

    You’d expect – on that basis – a slight majority of state educated kids in senior positions.

    Play with the percentages yourself, but it does look like a rigged game overall.

  15. CEA was available to all ranks.

    It might be worth noting that all senior officers will have attended Sandhurst 25 – 30 years ago when it would have been a lot more elitist. When I commissioned 8 years ago most of my intake were state educated.

    My comprehensive school never gave Sandhurst and the army as a career option which probably says more about the stranglehold that socialism has on state schooling.

  16. John,

    “What about Jones’ other employer – BBC. There are seven executive members on the Executive Board – five men, two women. All the men went to independent schools and then Oxbridge. Helen Boarden went to a grammar school and then Sussex. I can’t find Anne Bulford’s school, she went to UCL.
    p.s. All of them are white.”

    It’s also worth noting that nepotism is more common in government, monopolies and cartels. People who own a business who can be made poor are more likely to hire on merit than connections. Anyone who is serious about opportunities would scale down the size of the state.

  17. @Fred Fratter: your analysis only holds if you assume that each system gets those talented kids to equal educational attainment by age 16 or 18. Whereas in reality one suspects that a talented kid in a private school will have an almost 100% likelihood of getting that talent reflected in its exams results, a talented kid in a state school may have a 50% likelihood of doing the same. Thus the numbers of candidates for top jobs (or universities) will have a majority of former private school pupils. Thats before you add in the soft pressures that are applied in favour of private pupils and against state ones – parental support (or lack thereof), school support (or lack thereof), and peer pressure (either to do well and aim for the top, or to do the opposite).

    In other words its no wonder that so many private school pupils get through to the top – the forces arrayed against the state ones are immense, the largest being the state education system, closely followed by lack of parental support for intelligent kids from poor/disfunctional backgrounds (another product of the Lefts war on families for the last 50 years).

  18. “The scourge of unpaid internships has helped turn professions (such as my own, the media) into playgrounds for the privileged. Want to become a journalist? You may well find yourself expected to work for free for months, or longer, with no promise of a job at the end of it.”

    As usual, he gets the cause completely wrong. Why can media outlets get away with unpaid internships? Why do the well connected (and in the case of the Left wing media this doesn’t mean the rich but the people already working there) stitch up the selection process so their sprogs get the plum spots? Why, Owen?

    Because journalism is MASSIVELY oversubscribed. For some unaccountable reason journalism is seen as a glamorous, interesting and honourable occupation among young people. I have spoken to two 18 year olds I know who want to be journalists but have no real idea what it is. Colossal numbers of young people are doing journalism or media studies degrees but the number of positions for them is small, and dwindling. Employers are going to exploit this huge oversupply (that includes your employer, Owen).

    So, no conspiracy, no plot by the upper classes, just markets and the abuse of process by those in the know.

  19. You would think the rational solution, if you actually cared about children, would be a radical overhaul of State provided education. But no, no doubt that would be extremism. Let’s just smash the private system instead.

  20. “You would think the rational solution, if you actually cared about children, would be a radical overhaul of State provided education. But no, no doubt that would be extremism. Let’s just smash the private system instead.”

    And then places Foreign in which the idea of private education is equally Foreign are held up as an example of how great State education is.

    Well, yes, but the condictions are entirely foreign too. E.g. in Holland most schools are privately run (by foundations, mostly) but publically funded (like their healthcare system, actually, although there’s a private compulsory element to that too). In CH it’s all state run and funded but they take education very, very seriously and see their point as being to get the best out of each kid. Both of these countries run German-type streaming systems of course…. (how to improve the academic results at 18? Chuck 60-70% of kids out of the academic stream!)

  21. @jim – I’d already skewed those percentages heavily and ignored the percentage of grammar schools in the state percentages too. It’s a contortion of reality I think to get to a conclusion that there isn’t a large degree of unconscious bias in the more established professions anyway.

  22. @Fred Fratter

    The problem with your analysis is that decent private schools try to bring the best out of their kids, while (AFAICS) the state sector seems to do its best to smash them down.

    At my school, we were taught above all else to be independent and to think for ourselves.

    State schools (it seems to me) are trying to produce a sort of hive mind.

  23. @Fred

    My point being, I strongly dispute that ten per cent of state school kids are (to use your word, which I don’t like) ‘talented’.

    (I would prefer to say ‘fit to work almost immediately to a reasonably high level in a serious environment.’)

    Not their fault, I’m sure the raw material ‘ the inate ‘talent’ – is there, it just takes more work on the part of an employer to bring it out.

    As I’ve said many times, I don’t quite understand why the parents of bright kids from good families at shit state schools don’t rise up and hang the fucking teachers from the lampposts outside.

    All that said, bias is natural. As I said above, if you lived in a pit village but didn’t have a father who worked at the pit, tough shit. Same for the docks, the print works, and pretty much any heavily unionised place.

  24. Bloke in Costa Rica

    I went to public school and did a gap year. I worked on an assembly line in an electronics factory and then split shifts six days a week in a chippie for £2 an hour. It barely left time for me to lounge on my yacht on Biarritz.

    It’s begging the question, anyway. Why should we assume that letting a bunch of proles into the top jobs will have any more salubrious an outcome than staffing them all with nobs?

  25. Sebastian Weetabix

    The benefit is available to other ranks. My point being they tend not to take it up.

  26. Actually Fred’s back of the envelope is not bad.

    Public schoolboys earn more than others for equal educational attainment. Male university graduates who were privately educated earn 4.4% more than average, even controlling for degree class, A level results, university and subject studied.

    Moral – private school pays if your kids are thick.

  27. I benefitted hugely from a free private education. It really pushed me to do better than I otherwise would have, taught me (self)-discipline, and how to man the f*ck up and knuckle down with sh1t I didn’t want to do at all.

    If I’d had gone to the local comp, they’d have let me coast at best, at worst they’d have told me to stfu and read a book if I was bored (which would have got me beaten to a pulp later by the East Berkshire Massif).

  28. Fred’s back of the envelope doesn’t tell you whether the two sorts apply for desirable jobs in the same proportions. It’s always struck me that one of the most objectionable features of the English working class is the self-abasing “ooh, it’s not for the likes of us”. Get off your fucking knees, you tossers.

  29. I went to both a private boarding school and then when my parents went broke, a state school. The state school was considered the best in the town and even then the gulf between the two was staggering. Private schools are simply that much better than even the best state schools and it’s not just the education but the attitude that is instilled in the kids.

  30. Male university graduates who were privately educated earn 4.4% more than average, even controlling for degree class, A level results, university and subject studied.
    That seems like a very small premium to pay for the better connections that come with the privately educated, not to mention the (likely) better socialization.Actually seems remarkably egalitarian to me.
    Moral – private school pays if your kids are thick.
    No – the moral is that private school pays, no matter what; your study controlled for subject, degree class, university, etc.

  31. The state school was considered the best in the town and even then the gulf between the two was staggering. Private schools are simply that much better than even the best state schools and it’s not just the education but the attitude that is instilled in the kids.

    I went to, in this order:

    1) An appallingly crap comprehensive school (Pembroke School) – 1 year
    2) A fantastically good comprehensive school (Cowbridge School) – 1 year
    3) Back to Pembroke School – 1 year
    4) A pretty shite public school (Seaford College) – 4 years

    The best that can be said about Seaford College was you were forced to spend time in prep, you couldn’t skive off, you were so bored you might as well do some work, and there were two or three fantastic teachers. Otherwise, it was utter shite: their goal was to produce mediocre rugby players who failed their A-levels.

    By contrast, Cowbridge comprehensive school was miles ahead. Hence the house prices in Cowbridge…

  32. That seems like a very small premium to pay for the better connections that come with the privately educated

    I’ve never met anyone who has formed useful connections in school. The connections come at university, although I concede that going to a top private school might see you into a top university in which you can make the connections.

  33. Tim Newman:
    I was thinking of the “lucky sperm” connections that come from Daddy being on the board of XYZ plc, an uncle who is known in the arts, or having family wealth. I agree that of the connections formed during our lifetimes, those from university are far more valuable than those formed in secondary education.
    Your point about the privately-educated going to better universities stands, but that wasn’t what I was referring to.

  34. “I was thinking of the “lucky sperm” connections that come from Daddy being on the board of XYZ plc, an uncle who is known in the arts, or having family wealth”

    Aren’t all those factors independent of where a child goes to school though? If you have an uncle who is ‘something’ in the film industry, you’re going to get an ‘in’ from him regardless of whether you went to a comp or a fee paying school.

    One could argue that family connections are all important, and the fact that the type of people who have family connection also send their kids to private schools is entirely coincidental. Private schooling of itself could be of very little help to its pupils career prospects beyond the fact that they probably will learn a bit more, be slightly more confident and personable, and get better exam grades. What could be more important is the family background of private school pupils.

    I don’t actually buy that argument though, as the experiment with grammar schools proved that if you take clever working class kids and teach them in a semi-private school way their life prospects rise considerably. Both from the better education itself, and the opening up of mental horizons to see what is possible beyond the local factory where father and grandfather have worked since the year dot.

    One has to conclude that the Left really really hate the poor, because they destroyed the one way out for at least some of them when they finished off the grammar schools.

  35. Aren’t all those factors independent of where a child goes to school though? If you have an uncle who is ‘something’ in the film industry, you’re going to get an ‘in’ from him regardless of whether you went to a comp or a fee paying school.
    I think there is a correlation between having those sorts of connections and attending a fee-paying school. My point was that kids with who attended fee-paying schools (and presumably had those connections) only out-earned kids without them by ~5% after controlling for post-secondary education, type of degree (etc). I find that to be a much smaller premium than I would have expected.

  36. One has to conclude that the Left really really hate the poor, because they destroyed the one way out for at least some of them when they finished off the grammar schools.

    Indeed.

    “The trouble with grammar schools is that they take kids from good Labour families and turn them into fucking Tories.” – Richard Crossman

    “If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to destroy every fucking grammar school in England.” – Tony Crosland

    Cunts, every last one of them.

  37. theoldgreenfascist

    Come on Tim. You are apparently the spawn of some type of military careerist.
    And it seems you spent your education at various private establishments paid for by the taxpayer. Let’s have your full educational CV.

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