theporterslog@gmail.com
27th November 2022

My struggles as a private school twat

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Timothy Bainbridge-Stewart sheds light on the silent struggles of Cambridge’s posh minority.

The entry barriers for private school students are higher than ever, representing a deep-seated institutional bias. We have to jump through an ever-increasing set of criteria just to be in with a shot, with private school students being expected now more than ever to ‘show academic potential’ and ‘get in on their own merit’. These discriminatory rule changes mean that, once  Daddy has donated to our college of choice, we are only ‘at an advantage’, rather than guaranteed a place.

More than this, these blocks against young people attaining education are being celebrated. Colleges throw around terms like ‘diversity’ and ‘access’ without any concept of the barriers they throw up against deserving posh kids. Isn’t the movement supposed to be about breaking down barriers? The access movement has purposefully excluded private school students, a group that makes up more than 30% of 2019 intakes. All this because we are overrepresented, receive unequal support from our schools, can afford private tutoring, and are “entitled arseholes”? This struggle will be discussed at length in my memoirs.

These difficulties have continued long past application, and permeate my university experience. Take Imposter Syndrome: Can I convince myself that I deserve to be here, or was it simply the army of private tutors that Daddy hired? Will people here accept me and my Aga for who we really are?

And then there is the challenge of meeting new people. Coming from a private school that boasts impressive Oxbridge success, you cannot escape people you know around Cambridge. How am I expected to make new friends in between all the invitations to school reunions? It is impossible to redefine myself: to escape the webs of connections, family friends, and networking possibilities. What a floccinaucinihilipilification.

I am calling for a greater awareness of these challenges, as well as allyship from students who don’t live with the burden of a private school education. If you are the first from your family or school to come to Cambridge, if you have ever been made to feel adrift in an unfamiliar environment, then it’s time for you to check your privilege. You don’t know how lucky you are.