Published in The Guardian here.
You write that "David Cameron insisted that the proposal would not create privileged access to universities for rich students" and quote him as saying "university access is about being able to learn, not about being able to pay" (David Willetts on back foot in cash-for-places row, 10 May). Surely this is disingenuous, as rich students (or, to be more accurate, the children of rich parents) have privileged access to universities already by virtue of attending fee-paying schools.
Why is the principle contained in Cameron's quote applied only to university education? The answer is that tackling the true inequities of Britain's school system, beyond tinkering at the edges, is off limits for all political parties, for it is in the fee-paying sector where the dominance of the wealthy throughout our society takes root.
Yet until this occurs, meritocracy will remain a pipe dream and the potential of millions of children will be squandered.