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Notes - To Strive, To Seek by A.J. Hall

The issues around state grammar schools and entrance to Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth have largely been derived from Hansard and in particular this from the Hon James Callaghan M.P.:

It is interesting to see that the Committee says in paragraph 122: “Some of our witnesses … contend that some of the naval members of the Board, in particular, have not succeeded in getting below the superficial characteristics of these boys, which were often unimpressive, and have not appreciated the extent to which their potentialities can sometimes be obscured because of their backgrounds.” It goes on to say something which only emphasises the point, so I need not quote that. I am afraid that there has been an unconscious bias in favour of the public school boy with a smooth manner and the polish that is given by the public schools, as against the boy from a secondary grammar school with a provincial accent and a rugged manner. I held that view after I had seen the interview boards at work. It is confirmed by the Report of the Committee. I think it is almost inevitable.

Naval officers in the past have been drawn from a certain social background, a middle class or upper middle class background. When they get candidates before them, hear them, and see the boy who comes from the same type of family, who can talk about the same kind of things and perhaps knows the same kind of people, inevitably they feel a warmth towards him that they do not feel towards some rugged, rough, unpolished young man from a secondary grammar school of which they have never heard, in some obscure town which has no connection with the Navy in any way.

Hansard — HC Deb 06 July 1953 vol 517 cc868-931

“People say a stranger has arrived, some wizard, a conjuror from the land of Lydia —” Euripides, Bacchae. King Pentheus is about to make a very large mistake.

Details of the timing and order of events for application to Britannia Royal Naval College have been handwaved to suit the purposes of the fic.