Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has announced that his daughter Beatrice will take up a place at a state school - Grey Coat Hospital, an all-girls Church of England academy near the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.
Gove has often talked the talk when it comes to promoting the state school system in Britain, but now he has proven he walks the walk, giving Beatrice the distinction of being the first child of a Conservative education minister to be enrolled in state school. Grey Coat Hospital School was Gove and his wife Sarah Vine's first choice from six schools applied to, and on National Offers Day they were delighted to learn that Beatrice had been offered a place.
It will come as little surprise, however, that Grey Coat Hospital is certainly no Bash Street School. The all-girls school - motto 'God give the increase' - is rated 'Outstanding' in every Ofsted category, and the Fair Admissions Campaign judges it one of the least socially and ethnically inclusive schools in England.
Gove's wife, Sarah Vine, took to her column in the Daily Mail to pre-empt any criticism of the couple's decision, emphasising her own journey through the state school system and how the experience had enabled her to mix with a far more varied group than that found at a typical fee-paying school.
"The parents of private school children are paying for the best teachers and facilities. But let's be honest: they're also paying for their child to mix with the right kind of kids," she wrote, lashing out at a 'two-tiered education system' which 'helps polarise our society'.
Although she claimed that some of her best friends were privately educated, Vine said she found some of the private school students she met at university to be "so cosseted they could barely open a tin of beans, let alone roll their own cigarettes".
Defending their decision as a matter of principal, Vine asserted that state school would provide their daughter with a more comprehensive education "in every sense of the phrase" than a fee-paying school could provide.
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