Keep the working-class out of Eton

I fully agree with Harry Brighouse ("Reform the private schools", 8 January) that changes are needed in private schools. I do not, however, believe that they should be forced to take more pupils from working-class families.

To put it bluntly, why should more kids be subject to these schools' six-day weeks, longer school days, enforced religion, compulsory cadet corps, games mania, regimentation and a lack of freedom and privacy?

My policy would be to end private schools' charitable status and put 20 per cent VAT on school fees. I would, in addition, force them to respect children's rights - which would mean that no child should have to devote more than five hours a day, five days a week, to their lessons (including homework, which I believe should be voluntary) or be subject to any of the above.

I detest boarding schools and would like to abolish them; at the very least, they would be allowed to exist only if their pupils were free from the above. If they want to slump in front of the television or just sit around doing nothing, rather than "doing something constructive" - as pompous prats would irritatingly put it - then that's their business.

Mark Taha
London SE26

This article first appeared in the 22 January 2001 issue of the New Statesman, Iraq: the great cover-up