MARK Smith ("In praise of ...

public schools", The Herald, January 25) asks what is wrong with Nick Clegg wanting to do the best for his children by sending them to private schools if the state secondary is not good enough for them.

What is wrong with Nick Clegg's position is that he is Deputy Prime Minister of a Government that is setting about wrecking state education and the health service in England. A good education is not the main reason for people who can afford it to choose private schools.

Even where state schools are good, as they are in Edinburgh where my sons both attended their local schools, some parents chose private schools. I don't believe that this is actually for a better academic education, although their children will be taught how to pass exams in small classes and will have extra tuition.

The real advantage is that private education buys children, smart or otherwise, the privilege of good connections. Buying these connections does as it is says on the glossy brochures.

The establishment is over-represented by former private school pupils.

It is to be hoped that, in Scotland, we will continue to invest in, and believe in, good education for all our children, and ensure that privilege comes to mean the privilege of a good, free state education alongside children from all backgrounds.

Maggie Mellon,

3a Fettes Row, Edinburgh.

MARK Smith is correct to say that "the right to pay for your child to go to the best school is fundamental to a modern, liberal society".

However, in the words of none other than Nick Clegg, only last year, "right now there is a great rift in our education system between our best schools, most of which are private, and the schools ordinary families rely on".

Apart from his pejorative and patronising use of the phrase "ordinary families", which implies extraordinary families, it's doubtful whether a Deputy Prime Minister, who was educated at the elite Westminster School in London, and who has put social mobility at the very heart of his deputy premiership, has the right to behave in a way he deems "corrosive for our society and damaging to our economy". Diane Abbot, when she was running for the Labour leadership in 2010, was attacked for sending her son to the £13,000-a-year City of London School, despite her party's opposition to private education. At the time, by way of explanation, she said: "I knew what could happen if my son went to the wrong school and got in with the wrong crowd."

In other words, whatever way you slice it, when self-interest and hypocrisy meet politicians... plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Mr G McCulloch,

47 Moffat Wynd,