The meaning of a good, well-rounded education | Letters

Readers share their perspectives on the charitable status of private schools, and the importance of music lessons for pupils of all backgrounds

Sam Friedman and Daniel Laurison (Why it pays to be privileged, 2 February) illustrate some of the subtle ways in which talent can be showcased by privilege. For individuals without this supporting structure, the result can be a ceiling on progress and lower financial reward, even after their entry to an elite profession. The ceiling must be dismantled if the UK is ever to become a more equal society. This will require not only decisive action by government, but pro-social action by some of our most esteemed institutions.

Closing highly successful institutions that perpetuate privilege and create such ceilings, such as public schools and Oxbridge, would be destructive and well-nigh impossible. It might be more effective to maintain and celebrate them with a society-endowed broader function. Public schools could forgo pupils below the age of 16. They could convert themselves into sixth-form centres of excellence specialising in advanced level teaching. They could use their buildings and amenities to provide year-long residential courses between GCSE and A-levels, extending young people’s skills in similar ways to the Danish voluntary courses between folkeskolen and upper secondary schools.

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