• Wed. May 22nd, 2024

In upholding classist prejudices, Tesco harms pupils

ByDaniel King

Nov 29, 2016

A rebellion against the capitalist overlords is underway in bourgeois Bruntsfield. Parents of pupils at the nearby Boroughmuir High School have raised concerns that their children are forced to queue outside a Tesco store at lunchtime whilst pupils from the private George Watson’s School are free to enter the store unchallenged. Tesco attempted to defend this blatant inequality by arguing that the volume of Boroughmuir pupils was significantly higher in comparison to those from George Watson’s. Yet, if the issue was one of capacity, surely all customers should obediently stand in line at busy periods? Accepting that this is a ludicrous proposition, the store should at least demand that all pupils, regardless of the nature of their schooling, queue together with nobody receiving unjust priorities.

However, this is not an issue of capacity. It is entirely an issue of entrenched perceptions. The division along the lines of state educated and privately educated teenagers rests upon the impression that those from the state sector are more likely to steal and wreak havoc. It is self-evident that we state school pupils cannot conduct ourselves in a manner appropriate to the cultured experience of purchasing Monster Munch in Tesco. In contrast, the refined, materially eloquent private school pupils can be trusted to acquire lunchtime goods responsibly and without inflicting terror on the shop workers. It is important to remember that these engrained biases exist in all manners of organisations and institutions. Indeed, for all talk of a corporate responsibility to reach out to state-educated students, the Tesco incident proves that companies still have to learn lessons on their conduct towards the two-tier education system. By dividing the pupils along the lines of which system they are educated in, Tesco reinforced the offensive stereotypes regularly imposed on state-school pupils, actively worsening the current situation. It is important to remember that this is a country where 40 per cent of Oxford students are privately educated, despite only seven per cent of the population attending private school. True corporate responsibility, especially in this post-Brexit age, should mean that companies encourage state school pupils to achieve whatever their talents will allow, rather than alienate them in a manner consistent with a Two Ronnies sketch.

Attending a state school presents pupils with numerous challenges. Society constantly views you as an enemy within, a wicked specimen capable of only minor crime and casual sex. Your personality is rendered irrelevant whenever someone’s eyes wander over the institutionalised clothing bestowed to you. A vandalising, immoral youth is all that a passer-by sees on catching your eye during the perishing march to the dilapidated school building. In comparison, a privately educated pupil is the modern day symbol of respectability and intellectuality. Upon seeing an army of tartan skirts approach them, a passer-by breathes a sigh of relief. Rather than swear at you, they will most likely be debating the return of the British Empire.

It is this grossly offensive, backwards stereotype that Tesco reinforced last week. Until they abolish the unjustified queueing, the Bruntsfield revolution should continue.

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