I realise most people will not have seen it, but I feel rather compelled to post about the documentary Rich Kid, Poor Kid, that was shown on Channel 4 last week. It was set in Clapham North/Stockwell - ie on our doorstep - so I was interested to watch something that contrasted the South London lives of two teenage girls; Alice, a private schoolgirl living in a large house, and Natalie, who had left school at 15 and lived in a two bedroom council flat with a mum on benefits and her little brother.
It made such an impression, because Alice really was the worst advert for a private education I have ever seen. She talked about state school kids as if they were the scum of the earth, bitched about 'chavs' and said the worst thing she could think of in the world would be to send her own kids to a state school. Yet -until she met Natalie in the programme - she had never met any. Instead she boasted about her friends being in the Sunday Times Rich List. Natalie, meanwhile, was great - feisty, fiercely defensive of her mum (who suffered from mental health problems) and the great champion of her little brother, whom the family had somehow failed to register for primary school. When she visited the rich house, she was most overawed by the fact that they had a piano. She was by far the more-open minded of the two.
To be fair, when the two girls met, they got on quite well, and by the end, Alice was saying that perhaps she regretted some of the comments she'd made. And yes, they clearly did spring from ignorance and to some extent, fear (she had been mugged several times).
But by the end of the programme, it was the 'posh' parents I couldn't believe. Alice was only 15. First of all, why on earth did they let her be filmed in this way, spouting prejudice and ignorance - were they unaware that it was likely to be edited unfavourably (as these things always are) and that it would expose not only their daughter's attitude but their own? Her comments will surely haunt her for years and they should at the very least have demanded some editorial control of the final cut.
Secondly, if my children ended up speaking like Alice did about other people, I would be mortified. One suspected that at no point had they told her anything other than what she believed. In fact, you could tell from the few comments by the mother in the film that they probably stemmed directly from her. I know people like this exist - in fact, quite a few of them went to my school - but the mind boggles, it really does.
So what does anyone think - would you let your child be filmed for a documentary?