In attacking armed forces officer selection the Sutton Trust is suppressing freedom and opportunity and not encouraging it.

I was proud to have been the first member of my family to qualify as a platoon commander and be destined for a Regular Commission in an outstanding infantry regiment.

My parents left school at 14 and 15 yet their support, a great state primary school, Stamford Park, and access to full scholarships in the direct grant sector, saw my brothers and I go to the elite Manchester Grammar.

I attended Durham University, where there was a culture of service from the forces, British Council, diplomatic corps, education and church.

Many were from generations who had done the same and for some, like myself and a close friend who was also a scholar, we were first generation.

Much higher paid and safer jobs were available but we were there to lead, protect and help others.

The Sutton Trust should not promote a dumbing-down approach but in increasing expectation, opportunity, initiative challenges and self belief and self discipline in all at state schools where competition, streaming and selection benefit all.

We must remember that those who go to private schools have paid for state education, which they are not using, support scholarships and then pay their fees and for this we have many who seek to vilify them rather than thanking them.

In the forces we want the best and who are able to cope, lead and sacrifice. We do not want selection to be based on ticking boxes!

Peter Booth


Member of Blesma