The experience of Elaine C Smith and Bob Holman of not meeting someone who had been privately educated until they were in their late teens is not unique (The Power of Posh, Essay of the week, February 15 and What can we do to blunt the power of public schools?, Letters, February 22).

Like them I didn't meet someone who had been private school educated until my late 20s, but the mistake would be to assume that this is a coincidence or in any way accidental.

In a 1943 essay entitled The Problem Of The Public Schools, RH Tawney regarded this anonymity to be a deliberate tactic of private schools. Quoting JH Simpson, he wrote that "the very existence of the public schools helps to keep the different social classes ignorant of one another". This tactic, of private schools operating under the radar of public awareness, is a means for reproducing inequality by stealth.

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I agree with Bob Holman that the removal of private schools' charitable status would have little effect, but Ashley Husband Powton [who is campaigning for private schools to be stripped of their charitable status] did acknowledge in a Huffington Post article (28 August 2014) that given that the complete abolition of private schools was unlikely, the removal of their charitable status was the moral necessity. It was, in other words, a reform measure enforced by an absence of political will.

If the question is how to curb the power of private schools then the answer lies with Tawney, because the problem of the public schools is that they continue to exist. Reform of the private school system should now be the will of the radical Scottish left. In the 1980s the Conservatives led by Margaret Thatcher propped up racial apartheid in South Africa: 21st-century Conservatives prefer their apartheid to be social. Tawney regarded educational policy to be always social policy, and if the SNP, Greens and others in the Yes movement are serious about creating the type of Scotland imagined by Yes voters they should now, together, commit themselves to the abolition of the educational apartheid system in Scotland that is perpetuated by these anachronistic, unrepresentative and anti-social private schools.

Graeme Arnott

Glasgow