SHAMELESSLY boasting of the brilliance of her brood, the banker Dame Helena Morrissey tells Spectator readers of her bittersweet feeling as three of them leave the close-knit family for undergraduate studies at Oxford.

“Dropping them off at their colleges (Wadham, Christ Church and Keble, with another Morrissey at All Souls),” she writes, “my husband Richard and I felt a little wistful as well as proud.”

The pride, one feels, must arise not only from the family’s academic achievements but from her and hubby’s skill in piloting the pantechnicon presumably required for delivery through Oxford’s traffic.

It may be assumed – though it goes unstated – that the Morrissey kids (there are nine of them) were public school educated, in some cases at Eton, since mum is a Fellow (governor).

Dame Helena early informs Spectator readers that she was at a state school, thereby hinting ever-so-slightly at a humble, possibly even deprived, background. In fact, both her parents were teachers.

She entertains a quaint belief in the fairness of the admissions system at Oxford University, observing “the striking diversity of the students” and the fact that “they all seem very clever”, including her own children, natch.

Her smug certainty flies in the face of statistical evidence, which shows public school educated applicants hugely over-represented in college admissions lists.

That a privileged education continues to procure places is a state of affairs reflected, of course, in her own family’s uncommonly good fortune.

Dame Helena, who is soon to leave her job with Legal & General, is hotly tipped to be the next governor of the Bank of England.

Her Spectator Diary, in fact, read rather like a letter of application: “A prerequisite for the next governor’s success? A willingness to think about old problems in new ways.”