A £22,000-a-year private school has been slammed for an ‘appalling’ and ‘elitist’ advert suggesting pupils should attend so they can buy their dads flash cars.
Vinehall School, in Robertsbridge, East Sussex, ran the advert in a number of local magazines, showing a student daydreaming about how his father cannot afford to own a Jaguar like the headmaster, but drives a Volvo instead.
It has since been branded ‘tone deaf’ by shocked social media users – while the boarding school’s head has apologised for "such an unfortunate error of judgement".
The ad reads: "The Volvo Estate – your Dad’s pride and joy – suddenly swung left into a long drive. You saw "Open Day" signs and your eyes widened.
"You pointed to the beautiful dark blue Jaguar parked by a sign saying ‘Headmaster’s Parking’. You said you wished your Dad had one.
"Your Dad looked wistful, the Volvo had to do a few years yet."
It continues: "You did well at Vinehall and have fond memories. You were very successful in business.
"You bought your Dad a Jaguar when he retired. You think every child should go along to the Open Days.
"Maybe they will buy their Dad a Jaguar one day too."
It sparked outrage among some Internet users.
Bestselling British novelist Judy Astley said: "How very bizarre. Who’d want to send their child to a school where the core values are entirely about acquiring material crap?"
Mark Owen added: "Heartening to see Vinehall School taking some well-deserved stick on social media for this appalling, elitist and p***-poorly-executed ad.
"If you’re the type to reckon someone’s worth by measure of their wealth, give your kid a chance to be a better human and send ’em elsewhere!"
Another said: "How wonderfully tone deaf!
"A school is chosen for quality of education, pupil experience, school environment, subject choice, location and possibly Ofsted rating.
"The car the headmaster supposedly drives is utterly irrelevant."
And Mark fumed: "I’d never send a child to this school. Completely devoid of a moral compass."
Vinehall is a prep school founded in 1938 which caters for children between the ages of two and 13.
Last night, headmaster Mr Powis issued an apology, saying: "I very deeply regret the widespread offence caused by the recent open day advertisement.
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"It was wholly misguided, and should never have seen the light of day. I must stress it is in no way a reflection of the ethos of our school and the worthwhile work we do here.
"We are taking a long hard look at how it came to be created in the first place, but as head, I must take full responsibility for its appearance, and can only apologise for such an unfortunate error of judgement.
"Vinehall prides itself on being a friendly, inclusive place, where the values of modesty and broad-mindedness are at the forefront of our guidance and teaching."
It is not the first ‘error of judgement’ from a fee-paying school.
In June, leading boarding school St Paul’s Girls School faced criticism after holding an "austerity day" lunch, serving pupils baked potatoes, beans and coleslaw.
The girls’ school advertised the lunch with an image of a gloved waiter’s hand uncovering three peas on a silver platter.
Alumni from the school include founder of the Eden Project Tim Smit, polar explorer Tom Avery and High Court Judge Andrew Gilbart.
Chartoppping band Keane also met at the school before moving on to Tonbridge School in Kent.
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