Can privilege be bought? Arguments have raged over whether private education in the UK is 'the cement in the wall' dividing British society, or whether parental choice is, as has also been argued 'a key component of a free society'. The author here describes the traditional private sector schools, paying attention to the ways in which parents can purchase privilege for their children through attendance at such schools. He argues that the privatized system is kept under tight control if a growth in social and educational inequality and a deepening of social class and ethnic group division is to be avoided. The book is unique in combining an account of private schools in Britain with an examination of the process of privatization.