THERE was a strange moment on Adam Boulton’s Sunday show on Sky News at the weekend during a mini-debate between Toby Young and Fiona Millar over the wisdom of city academy schools. Young, defending his plan to sponsor a new academy in Acton, began reciting pass rate stats about the success of Camden School for Girls, implying that Millar used the top performing school for her own children and therefore could not understand the problem faced by parents finding a secondary to their liking elsewhere in London.
A little surprised, Millar had to remind Young that she doesn’t send her kids to Camden School for Girls. Her family use schools closer to home, Parliament Hill and William Ellis, where she leads the governing body and Young – by coincidence – is a former pupil.
I knew Young had been a past student at Ellis already, but was reminded by the recent When Boris Met Dave documentary on More4 during which Daily Telegraph sketch writer Andrew Gimson, another local face, was caught smirking about it during his talking head cutaway. Smirking, because when Young got to Oxford he found himself suddenly surrounded by students from another world, cocksure young men who had gone to Eton, like Boris Johnson and David Cameron.
I’m sure his new school in Acton will be more Ellis than Eton, but if he is determined to open it and compete with the existing secondaries, Millar won’t be the only one hoping he make sure its admissions are open to all. And not just the brightest kids in his neighhourhood.