Yesterday I received an email letter from Eton College. It was a letter I have come to dread.
It was well written and confident. It came from a sixth form boy. He invited me to speak to their Keynes Society.
He explained that the Society invites people like me to address their Economics Club on a Thursday evening. He recited the impressive list of recent speakers including the Governor of the Bank of England. He asked me to join them for dinner before the lecture. He praised my work in my book “After the Credit Crunch” to demonstrate they have a serious interest in the issues I raise in public debate. He understood where I come from on the issues of banks and Europe and will doutbtless wish to cross examine me with his fellow students after the lecture.
He did not know that I have been a speaker at their Society before. I was greatly impressed when I went. The lecture was very well attended, though delivered in the evening with no teachers involved in organising it. I gave a fairly demanding lecture. They listened in rspectful silence and then asked a searching series of relevant questions.
So why should I dread the invitation? I am of course delighted that there are able young men wishing to discuss these matters of great importance to our joint futures. My worry is the letter reinforces the sense I have of the large gap between the approach of the best in the independent sector, and the typical approach in the state sector.
I have not had any invitations from economics societies organised by students in state school six forms. If the state sector does not offer the Governor of the Bank of England or leading figures in the UK economics debate the chance to go in and discuss with students, but Eton does, Eton will get more help and the state schools will not. Therein lies the rub.