Steve Biddulph

Steve Biddulph

Bio: Steve Biddulph is a family psychologist and the writer of numerous best-selling books about raising children, particularly boys.

I visit Germany quite often and it's great to see what more progressive countries are like - how they run things, and how much better they make life for their people. In Germany there are hardly any private schools (and most of those are for American and British expat kids whose parents just can't break the habit.)

There are hardly any private schools in Germany (or Sweden, Denmark, Norway) because the government schools are so wonderful, in equipment, facilities, competence of teachers, and diversity of learning - that no-one would bother looking elsewhere. Attempts to start private schools have often simply failed through lack of interest.

That's what we should have as well - the public schools should be funded at a level that there is no difference of opportunity. You don't live in a democracy, or a free country, until every little baby born here or coming to live here has the same equal chance to rise to their maximum level of ability and contribution.

Bought privilege is a kind of corruption. When privilege in education can be bought, then rich stupid people rise above their natural levels of ability, and we are all in danger. Perhaps that's why we have a stupid foreign policy, stupid businesses that wreck the place, and people in power that you wouldn't leave in charge of your cat.

We will never stamp this out completely, but we must work continuously to close the gap. And in the last thirty years it's gone the other way completely - the gap between rich and poor has been made obscenely large in the UK, US and Australia, through direct government policy pandering to vested interests. And schooling is at the heart of this - it's where life chances are handed out, and often set in cement. Unless people have a sense of access to life in its fullest, especially for their children, then an ugly, dangerous and dysfunctional society arises.

And that's what we have now. It's time this was turned around.