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Times letter 13 March 2017

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Politicians seem unable to understand that even in a perfect meritocracy, where children were selected for grammar school or university solely on the basis of their intellectual ability, children from middle-class homes would still outperform those from lower-class backgrounds (“May shakes up 11-plus”, News, Mar 11).

The reason is that in a meritocracy, the higher-level positions in business and the professions will be filled by the highest-ability people. They will tend to produce children of higher than average ability who will compete successfully for these positions when they grow up. Unequal outcomes do not necessarily indicate unfair selection procedures — they are what we should expect to find.

The government says it believes in meritocracy, yet it keeps pushing our best schools and universities to accept “positive discrimination” quotas that will make their selection procedures less meritocratic, as well as undermining academic standards.

Professor Peter Saunders
Professorial Fellow, Civitas, and author of Social Mobility Delusions

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