Archive for the ‘Schools & Social Mob.’ Category

Schools & Social Mobility

jeudi, septembre 23rd, 2010

Michael Gove, the Conservative education secretary in the Coalition government has stated that schools should be the engines of social mobility. However, the best performing schools such as the independents, tend to be those dominated by the sharp-elbowed, middle class (as David Cameron has described them) and do not reflect the composition of society at large. This results in other schools in the area being left with a disproportionately larger number of pupils from lower income families. To improve social mobility, therefore, the better schools should accept a more balanced input of pupils from a wider social spectrum. This could of course prove quite traumatic for those less affluent , with children notoriously capable of also being verbally very cruel, very likely singling them out as the so-called poor kids, bussed in from the surrounding districts. Some Conservative MPs have also questioned that if such a selection is made on the basis of income, why not on the grounds of ability (as for the former grammar schools via the 11+ exam)?
Yet even though a fortune has been spent on schools in the UK over the last 2-3 decades, the social gap between rich and poor children is not narrowing. Indeed, Mr Gove says that other countries are moving ahead faster than the UK and the gap is getting worse. Time will tell whether his education policies e.g. for Free Schools will be any more effective than those of his predecessors. However, his conclusion seems right that richer children in general do better than poorer children and that the biggest predictor by far of how well a child will do in later life is the income of the parents. It is ironic that Britain has somehow become more socially divided over the last 25 years when so much money has been ploughed into state schools.