Stories + Views
The comprehensive generation breaks through
Very much looking forward to Ed Miliband’s conference speech this afternoon. I have read the early reports of what he will say and picked up the sneering comments from some commentators and others in response to his description of his comprehensive school days at Haverstock School in Camden, where I live.
I think this bit of his speech matters a lot. We all have our characters formed by our schooldays to a certain extent so, as a potential Prime Minister, it is legitimate for him to spell out crucial formative influences.
In fact he is probably the only possible future PM we have ever had who has been to a comprehensive school. I believe all previous PMs who were state educated went to grammar schools.
And Ed is symbolic of the comprehensive generation that is now breaking through. The comprehensive revolution got going in earnest in the 1970s and the young people educated then and in the subsequent three decades are starting to make their mark. Think of the great Olympians Mo Farrah, Jess Ennis and Bradley Wiggins, Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, even new schools minister Elizabeth Truss.
When I look at my own children and their friends I can see that the myth of the downtrodden, low achieving comp school pupils, perpetrated by the media, is just that - a myth. Ed Miliband is right to stand up for all those young people who are following in his wake and have had their characters formed not by Eton or Harrow, but by their local schools. Their time has come and it is long overdue.