Sir Nicholas Soames Calls James O'Brien To Disagree With Education Secretary

8 February 2019, 12:30

Conservative MP Sir Nicholas Soames called James O'Brien to disagree with the Education Secretary's claim that going to public school gives you a "swagger".

Damian Hinds said that a public school swagger should not be the preserve of the wealthy, as he unveiled five foundations for building character at school.

But Sir Nicholas, who went to Eton, phoned in to insist that it's not to do with swagger, it's to do with life opportunity - and he wants all schools to offer those opportunities.

He said: "I acknowledge that I had incredible life chances and I am very fortunate, don't think I don't know it.

"I do wish that governments were able at the drop of a light switch to improve the opportunities that stem from public schooling. It's about excellence and leadership at the top of schools.

"I am in my constituency today and I've going to visit a town called East Grinstead, which has school that had a most fantastic Ofsted inspection, which just highlights leadership, opportunity, all the things that these young men and women are getting at this school.

"I don't seem why that shouldn't be the same at every school in the land."

Sir Nicholas Soames called James O'Brien
Sir Nicholas Soames called James O'Brien. Picture: PA / LBC

But James them asked the MP: "I'm going to ambush you slightly here and speculate that you wouldn't send your own children there."

There was a long pause, before Sir Nicholas eventually said: "Well you've bowled me middle stump. I sent my children to public schools, that is true.

"I really passionately believe that the kind of excellence in education is attainable through leadership, through quality of teaching and aspiration.

"It is doable and it's inexcusable that we don't do it better and don't do it more."

Referring to the phrase 'public school swagger' that the Education Secretary used, Sir Nicholas ended by saying: "I think it is a really unhelpful thing to say and I shall tell Damian when I next see him because I don't think it means anything.

"I know a lot of fellows who have no bloody swagger at all. They need to stand up and take the hands out of their pockets."

Watch the call at the top of the page.