Boris Johnson: friend to Toby Young. No friend of state schools

I’ve only ever spoken to the Tory leadership contender Boris Johnson once. I was making a film for Channel 4 in the early noughties and wrote about it for the Spectator magazine, which he was editing at the time. Naturally we had a perfunctory conversation about education. His children had been at a primary school near where we were filming but, amid a lot of his trademark bluff and bluster, he admitted that sending them to state secondary schools was a step too far. The Guardian reports.

Is that relevant? I think so. Depressing as it is to see two white public schoolboys in the final for the Tory leadership, where people send their own children to school is more pertinent than a choice their parents made almost half a century ago.

Inevitably he supported the Gove reforms, pledged to open his own academies, opened Toby Young’s West London free school and defended Young when he was ousted from the Office for Students for offensive remarkson Twitter.

Johnson’s own now notorious comments about Muslim womenLGBT people, those from minority ethnic backgrounds and historic child sexual abuse would have most headteachers, tasked with fighting extremism while promoting social cohesion, tolerance and safeguarding, recoiling in horror.

Of course he is pro grammar schools. His regard for selection was on full show when he delivered the 2013 Margaret Thatcher lecture in which he talked about “violent economic centrifuge” operating on human beings who are “far from equal in raw ability, if not spiritual worth”. He went on: “Whatever you may think of IQ tests, it is surely relevant to a conversation about equality that as many as 16% of our species have an IQ below 85, while about 2% have an IQ above 130. The harder you shake the pack, the easier it will be for some cornflakes to get to the top.”

Read more Boris Johnson: friend to Toby Young. No friend of state schools

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin


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