Private education produces sense of superiority

Privately educated people put a greater value on the financial worth of top jobs than others, finds the latest British Attitudes Survey, 2011. The survey, conducted by the National Centre for Social Research (Nat Cen) concluded that private education perpetuates a form of ‘social apartheid’ and has given rise to a political class drawn from a ‘segregated elite’ that does not understand or share the views of most people. Researchers also identified a ‘sense of superiority bonus’ that comes from attending a private school. This ‘superiority’ manifests itself in a belief that private education confers a higher position on the ladder of life.

After accounting for family background, the study found that the privately educated are still roughly twice as likely as state school pupils to see themselves as being middle- or upper-middle class. The privately schooled also have an in-built bias to value the work of ‘top people’ more highly than others, because captains of industry and cabinet ministers were ‘people like us’.

This tendency is especially pronounced when considering how much people should be paid. When asked how much a company chairman should earn on average, privately educated people suggested an average figure of £237,000 a year, £88,000 higher than the average level proposed by those who went to state schools. State-educated respondents were also more concerned with social inequality. Private schools, the report says, ‘produced Conservative partisans’.

The full report is available from the NatCen website.