The PM opens up about her her school life and the quality of education she recieved.
Going into the backgrounds of potential political leaders is something that the public is always interested in, particularly due to the fact that it helps the citizens to understand if they connect with the experiences of their leaders or vice-versa.
As a result, the educational background of Prime Minister Liz Truss was brought up during the Tory leadership contest. That being said, her remarks did not sit well with a lot of people, but at the same time, some agreed with her.
The school she attended
Metro reports that Truss went through high school and A-Levels at Roundhay School in the 'leafy suburb' of Leeds throughout the late 80s to early 90s. Following that, she went on to pursue a degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at Merton College Oxford.
According to the school website, the institution received the World Class Quality Mark in 2019 following an assessment process carried out by the World Class Schools Organization. The status is given based on an evaluation of students of a particular school, which in turn can mean that the school has a conducive environment for the students to succeed.
What the PM said about her school
Truss, on numerous occasions, has mentioned the supposedly negative aspects of her schooling. Metro further reports that the PM made comments about students being 'let down' by Roundhay School.
At the campaign launch on July 14, she said:
Many of the children I was at school with were let down by low expectations, poor educational standards and a lack of opportunity.
She further elaborated on July 17 during her debate with Rishi Sunak:
The reason I am a Conservative is that I saw kids at my school being let down in Leeds. Perhaps not getting the opportunities you had at your school, Rishi.
Sunak attended the prestigious Winchester College Oxford, which costs up to £45,000 per year, and Truss' comparison highlights her negative perception of the quality of the education she received. In 2020, she mentioned the same during a speech.
As a comprehensive school student in Leeds in the 1980s and 1990s, I was struck by the lip service that was paid to equality by the city council while children from disadvantaged backgrounds were let down. While we were taught about racism and sexism, there was too little time spent making sure everyone could read and write.
The reaction to her comments
There were quite a lot of responses that didn't align with the PM's perspective. Leeds Live reports that Truss was invited back to Leeds by the city council's deputy leader, Jonathan Pryor, to see the 'fantastic educational system' for herself. He further noted that the school was rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted, even at the time Truss attended the institution.
The Guardian reports about a former student of the school, Martin Pengelly, who contested Truss' perspective, stating that the PM wasn't telling the truth. He stated that educational policies and funding were controlled by Conservatives in Leeds at the time, thus any criticisms can be directed to the government.
That being said, even under the Conservative leadership, the school's official rating was 'satisfactory' and under Labour, it has achieved an 'outstanding' status. Pengelly goes on to quote a former student of the school who said that '[Truss] made it to Oxford – if people still think that’s worth something – and is in the running to be the world’s worst prime minister no 2. So how bad can it have been?'
The Telegraph, however, reports on a student who had mixed feelings about her experience at the school. Rosa Silverman attended Roundhay in 1994, and went into detail on how students consistently lacked discipline with bullying being the norm, from students and even certain teachers.