How do you promote social mobility?

The government wants to do more to promote social mobility. It wants more children to enter higher paid employment from home backgrounds that brought them up on benefits or low incomes.

There are many ways for young people to aspire to much higher incomes than their parents. They all entail lots of hard work. Being a star footballer, a leading singer, a great dancer or a well known actor all require plenty of discipline and training. The social reformers have in mind more people from the inner cities becoming High court judges, leading barristers, senior medical consultants, leading accountants and writers. These professions can offer attractive levels of financial reward, but all require substantial academic achievement on the part of their recruits.

The single most important thing the government can do to bring this about is to reform the state schools so that more of them enthuse, encourage and promote academic excellence. A disproportionate number of independent school pupils go to the elite universities, because a disproportionate number of the academically successful emerge from fee paying schools. This is not the fee paying schools fault. It is a problem we need to sort out in the state sector.

The government does not want to create grammar schools in every town in the way John Major once promised. It has bought into the socialist view that elite academic schools should only be available for the children of the rich, and not for the rest. That means finding ways to encourage sets or groups within comprehensives that can pursue academic excellence without interruption and with teacher support within the comprehensive framework. It means stamping out bullying, seeking to contain or rid the school of the idea that  reading isn’t cool and swots need to be exposed. It means promoting excellence in academic life as well as in sport,and art and the other items on the curriculum.

At sixth form level it means providing good pupils with access to libraries full of challenging books and computer programmes that can can stretch the student. It means moving away from teaching for the marks in the exam to teaching the subject in the round for part of the time. It probably means taking fewer exams, but taking harder ones.

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86 Comments

  1. Bill
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    John,

    What about parental support (not just for children, but for school actions and discipline) in the state sector? Improving social mobility isn’t something the schools can fix on their own.

  2. lifelogic
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Good Grammar schools and good vocational technical school- or similar – not with a single selection at 11 but with some movement in and out so that children can find their forte.

    It is however not surprising that children often have similar abilities and inclination to their parents anyway. Just as doctors frequently have doctors as children and builders builders and just as tall parents tend to have tall children. So once again cause and effect are confused in part.

    Anyway the last thing the country needs is more lawyers, judges and tax accountants and PPE graduates. It is unkind to an intelligent person to force them to be a judge and have such a boring and pointless profession studying often an absurd man made maze of nonsense designed for enrichment of lawyers.

    If the legal system and taxation were both made sensible (with a proper balance of risk to deter litigation) we could manage with about a quarter of the number we have already in these areas but alas turkey’s and politicians don’t vote for Christmas.

    Start with easy hire and fire and laws that give clear outcomes not a lottery as often is the case in civil and employment litigation. Better availability of funding for new businesses from the bank would help. When I went in to business I was severely delayed initially for lack of cash. Now I have plenty it is rather easy to make more despite all the many efforts of the state to thwart me and tie through lawyers, accountants, health and safely “experts”, restrictions in lending, employment laws and red tape.

    Not that there is anything wrong with plumbing, building, engineering, oil exploration and the like. Nor, often, are these jobs now less academic than law, history, languages, medicine and the like. Other than in the sense irrelevant sense of the word “academic”.

    Mainly we need a change of culture that shift people away from well paid but often parasitic professions into real wealth creating ones. Farming, engineering, science, building, transport, entertainment and the like.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 6, 2011 at 7:08 am | Permalink

      Even in medicine there is no real reason why operations such as cataract cannot actually be done by people trained just to do that technical operation. They do not need 7 years of training and hugely high paid despite what the doctors trade unions might think.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted April 6, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        Ditto solicitors

        • lifelogic
          Posted April 7, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

          Probably even more so.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      How do you promote social mobility?

      The pleasant but unelected (and totally out of her depth) Baroness Warsi, with her internship program, seems to think you do it by “positive discrimination” in other words discriminating against people and for others on the basis of their sex ethnic origin, and background. I can understand why she might think this is a good idea.

      From the cabinet office web site –

      “The Whitehall Internship Programme will comprise of three complementary internship schemes designed for graduates and undergraduates, college students and secondary students who come from under-represented groups, including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities and people from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.”

      Do we not have enough working class in parliament already just with Prescot and the likes?

      Any attempt to stop people pulling favours in internships and first jobs is clearly doomed to failure – it is against human nature. It is even less likely than expecting all MP’s to be totally honest with their expenses and allowances.

      • zorro
        Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

        The Whitehall Internship Programme can take some of those youths off the Jamie Oliver show and make them Permanent Secretaries by the age of 28 to show how wonderfully diverse and egalitarian we are. As a country we areally really are finished. It is already playing itself out in government departments now.

        zorro

      • CHEESED OFF
        Posted April 6, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

        The lady might also improve her grammar – Composed OF is ok but Comprised has no OF…..of course!

    • Winston Smith
      Posted April 6, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      On the contrary, what parliament needs is more Accountants. Very few MPs (with a few exceptions, like John Redwood) understand a balance sheet, let alone complicated tax workings. I know of very few qualified accountants in the HofC. Justine Greening is one. Are there many others? I read somewhere that the Canadian equivalent has 20%. If we had more, we would surely have not be in this economic mess.

      • Simon
        Posted April 7, 2011 at 4:04 am | Permalink

        We could certainly do with government expenditure being accounted for on an accruals rather than cash basis and general adoption of the same accountancy standards which apply to companys .

        With a simplified tax regime we wouldn’t need as many accountants or so many huge accountancy firms either .

        After the taxpayer subsidised invasion of Indian ICT visa’s has rendered jobs in software development unviable for British workers they will be coming after the accountancy jobs .

  3. norman
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    I don’t know if private education is that much better. When you have someone, apparently very intelligent and who has been educated at great expense in the very best and most exclusive schools in the world saying that Britain, and our actions in the recent past, is the reason for a lot of the ills in the world today you have to wonder.

    What makes it even more delectable to we lovers of farce is that this very same person in the last month has launched our country on an ill-advised adventure that we know not where will end, except one can surmise it will end badly for all concerned, nor one that are we equipped to carry out.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 6, 2011 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      The difference between a private education, for the dimmer children, is that you will become a dim lawyer rather than a dim PA or a dim builder and similarly for bright ones. There is something to be said for a few bright builders and PA’s rather than yet more dim lawyer charging £250 per hour there is no shortage of them.

      Education give people knowledge (often incorrect knowledge like the green agenda so pushed in schools) but it rarely makes people have a much better intelligence and understanding. Most bright people can be detected quite young like good sport people and brought on. They do not change much though clearly they can learn Greek or how to translate “liver infection” into Latin or real off a few names of French artists works which gives them a certain superficial polish.

      Intelligence is mainly genetic as studies of identical twins have clearly shown.
      Spiders and Cuckoos are not taught how to survive by mum, dad and spider schools they are programmed to do it by evolution.

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 6, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

        After all Cameron Clegg and Osbourne must have had an education costing perhaps £1M at current prices between them. Yet they cannot apparently even work out at 52% tax 20% VAT, a big state and an inability to fire people even whey they are 92 is not really the best way to a get a recovery in time for the next election.

  4. Chris
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    It is in the independent schools where teachers “infect” their pupils with the required enthusiasm. Having dealt with three private schools during the education of my son, I have felt the positive energy within these establishments when visiting on parent-days. I can’t say I have ever felt that when talking to people with children at the local state schools.
    Regarding grammar schools, well I am sorry that the current government takes such a dim view of them; I went to one myself in the 60’s and 70’s, being from a modest financial background and having passed the much-maligned 11-plus exam. The school had good teachers and there was definitely enthusiasm for all subjects and sports activities. Discipline was also rigorously enforced, including regards school uniform.
    I am sure that quite a few inner-city children have the capability of rising to high-level careers; the question is, do they actually want to? The fact that these professions seem to lack members from working-class backgrounds may be due more to lack of interest rather than lack of opportunity.

    • John C
      Posted April 6, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Many years ago Channel 4 ran a series of programs called “That’ll tech ’em”.

      They got a group of GCSE students and put them in a 1950s class room.

      They were given an initial test on day one that many of them found difficult.

      The test was an 11 plus exam from the 1950s.

      The abolition of grammar schools was a fundamental policy mistake in this country. Yes, secondary schools were often a disgrace. The answer was to improve secondary schools and keep academic schools of excellence.

  5. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    How about stopping ever increasing taxation on personal enterprise and effort whilst subsidising idleness?

  6. Andrew B
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    If all this govt can come up with is
    a) send £650m of our taxpayers money to Pakistan, a country that clearly detests us and our way of life
    b) think they can change society by introducing rules for “internships” and introduce greater State intervention

    heaven help us, we are all doomed by the idiots who are currently running this country. The con trick by Cameron over the Conservative party by making a trendy speech without notes has cost us a Conservative government, leadership without any form of compass, moral or not,and more pandering to the lefty establishment.

    Over and out

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 6, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      Depressing but exactly right.

    • zorro
      Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

      Come on John, what about the £650m for Pakistan? Is this to appease the Pakistanis after Cameron was beastly to them when in India last year. Please inform him that we would prefer him not to use our tax money covering over his inadequacy or lack of historical knowledge.

      zorro

  7. Electro-Kevin
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    “That means finding ways to encourage sets or groups within comprehensives that can pursue academic excellence without interruption and with teacher support within the comprehensive framework.”

    Do not underestimate the amount of resources – especially time – which are thrown at dealing with wayward children.

    Whereas the Headmaster’s authority (perhaps his cane) and parental support were once good enough to keep a school in order now it takes millions in special teachers, drugs (Ritalin), dedicated classrooms and benefits … and that is after the problem child has gone through the full ‘discipline’ process and having already disturbed the education of the rest of their class.

    It was very difficult explaining to my boys when they were seven why little Johnny was getting to play Xbox all day and taken on special trips. Why couldn’t they do that too ? Why was such bad behaviour being rewarded and what was the point of them being good ?

    The behaviour is shocking, corrosive and infects other children.

    The headmaster in question could not exclude such children for some reason. Our teacher friend quit said school after twenty years of teaching, utterly exasperated that the best the headmaster could offer with the growing number of cases was “I’ll speak to the parents.” A collective sigh from the staff knowing that this would result yet another visit from a perpetually livid Mr Tribal-Tattoo-Face (if the dad’s around) or the angry, chain-smoking mother with ipod and hipster jeans vexed that her boy is being picked on yet again.

    The issue is not so much social mobility but why we should be so desperate to get out of our social class. Why a lower middle-class wage does not afford a living standard or an exclusion zone beyond families who have no respect for others and done nothing but leech off the state and cause trouble in the community – why a working class wage leaves one fully exposed to (and often worse off than) the aggressive, the pugnacious, the predatory, the ungrateful and the State sponsored.

    Sort that out and we’d all be better educated, far happier, more productive, more creative, more inventive and more satisfied staying within our own class.

    That the subject is now all about ‘social mobility’ is indicative of how much state policy has failed. That the working class used to be safe, proud, happy and were able to contribute in great ways to our country.

    Now it isn’t. So many of us want to get out. And a major part of that reason is the equivalence afforded to the under-class. The frightening neutrality of the state, the courts and the police and especially state school head teachers.

    We already have social mobility – that will not alter the fact that most of us will not be socially mobile for the simple reason that there is only so much room at the top.

    It will not alter the fact that the working class (and lower middle class) have been abandoned to the underclass.

    “We’ve given you social mobility” is a way for you to lay the blame on us for our misfortunes when in fact it is your class which has ruined ours and turned this country into a dump.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      I should add that I am jealous of class.

      I’m jealous of those who can find the time and the money to always be at the pub, to afford tattoos and a pitbull dog (not that I’d want either you understand) and they do this without having to get out of bed at 3am like I do.

      The biggest problem I have with my innately intelligent twins (they get it from their mother) is that they night see what I see and get jealous of it too. That all the legally engineered obstacles put in their path make them feel that the light is not worth the candle and that they decide to flunk out.

      Because failure is actually quite a good option nowadays.

    • Andy
      Posted April 6, 2011 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      This is spot on Kevin.

      We can’t all be at the top, we are not all equal in terms of aptitude and attitude.

      It is not possible for the state to carry out the effort on behalf of the underclass that many of us are willing to put into our children, dedicating every possible minute we have to enriching their lives, playing and educating them from an early age. (And loving every minute of it).

      As far as social mobility goes, I went to university (my parents didn’t) but currently I would not encourage my kids to attend anything other than one of the top 20. I think I would rather take the money that I will have saved to pay for them and fund them in starting a business or buying a house, or even putting it into a pension pot for them from an ealy age (I wonder if 36K + tax relief paid into a pension to the age of 18 would actually be a better investment “on average” than a degree?)

      Life aint fair,

    • Winston Smith
      Posted April 6, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      I fully understand where you are coming from. However, the political elite have not a foggiest

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted April 7, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Andy and Winston Smith.

        I was too ranty for my own liking. Please understand that my exposure to the consequences of soft government has affected me in three direct and protracted instances over the past year or two.

        I rather think that this country is in deep trouble and the least of it is the economy.

  8. Steve
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Surely you meant to write

    “That means finding ways to remind the Govt that it is nominally a Conservative-led administration.”

    Forty-odd years of tinkering with comprehensives have only shown that we as a nation kicked away the ladders of social mobility and fixing that isn’t possible without another structural shake-up.

  9. James Matthews
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    “less exams” (sic).

  10. alan jutson
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    John.
    Fully accept your suggestion that existing schools need to raise their game, both in quality of teaching, discipline, and the way the do things, but do remember that it is politicians who have constantly juggled around with the system over the past 50 years which have caused most of the problems, with their initiatives, changes, monitoring, introduction of new examinations, constant testing, and the removal of discipine, and the like.

    Face facts that some students, will forever be disadvantaged because of lack of family income. Some students live in cramped accomodation, have no access to computers, have no quiet space to study, or have parents who both have to work long hours to provide just the basics.

    Schools need to recognise life in the present times where in most cases both parents work, and be able to offer rather more than limited school tuition and homework.

    Schools should be more than just schools for the 6-7 hours a day that they are open. Why can they not be complete study centres, open from 8.00 am to 6.00pm (oreven later) where a simple breakfast can be served, where self study (but supervised) can take place after normal tuition hours, where homework can be completed, and questions asked when in difficulty.

    Its all very well setting homework for so called self study, but many parents virtually do the work for their kids, many have not got a clue how to help, and some simply do not have the facilites of space (bedsit etc) for such work to be completed should they wish, as they have other tasks, like looking after younger siblings and the like while Mum and Dad are at work.

    Teachers often complain about their work hours (even after having 16 weeks holiday a year) and having to set and mark homework, if they were to work normal hours, without homework (all work completed at school) then that moan would not be valid.

    Perhaps if we had students at school for longer hours, under study supervision, we may, just may, have fewer problems with them getting into trouble between the hours of them leaving school and parents getting home from work, and perhaps just perhaps, study under supervision would give them what they cannot get at home, which is space, time, and knowledgeable help.

    John there will always be failures in the system, but we need to try and make sure it is as low as possible.

    I have not mentioned teacher training, but the simple fact of life is that a teacher who is knwledgeable, is confident in their knowledge, and makes their subject interesting, engages much more easily with those who they are trying to teach.

    • Andy
      Posted April 6, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      I don’t need the state to bring up my children, I just want the option to have the state educate them.

      What the government should be doing is making it possible for couples with children to live on one income. Not having to have both parents in work would free up plenty of jobs for the genuine unemployed and reduce social securty payments from the £100Billion+ per year currently spent.

      • alan jutson
        Posted April 7, 2011 at 12:47 am | Permalink

        Andy, unfortunately both parents working is a fact of life nowadays for very many families.

        The days of Mum (or Dad) being able to stay at home to look after the kids as in decades past, is simply not possible if you are on the national average wage or les, unless it is supplimented by benefits of some kind.

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 7, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        If couples live on just one income they get less tax they want every one to work perhaps looking after other’s children or something. Then the state can take their cut from both and regulate and licence them both. Perhaps also ensuring they have the right ethnic mix of non sexist toys.

  11. a-tracy
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    What % of independent schools that get the best results don’t have selective interviews at 4 years of age, 7 when going into Juniors and again at 11 years of age, I know our local private school does. They simply reject anyone that doesn’t meet the grade at each stage. The parents of strugglers go to great lengths to pay for extra tuition, often sharing tutors in order to pass the next exam. I know parents that got their children ‘statemented’ with special learning needs in order to get extra time in independent school test – do you know what % of independent pupils get this extra time? Does this hot housing and buying advantage make the student the most intelligent in the Country?

    Are children that all do the same subjects in a restricted curriculum superior to others that have freedom to experiment and widen their learning experience? Or do they simply get selectors at top universities stamp of approval because they’re just like them and did their idea of the ‘right’ and only route they prefer? This route was a mystery to me until recently, you’re not told about this blinkered point of view held by our ‘betters’ if you’re just in the system.

    I know independent schooled teenagers that have really struggled in your ‘hard’ degrees at university and are switched to easier courses or encouraged to trade down to split degrees, with more units of say Business Studies than Maths or Computer studies with Maths. It makes me wonder if that’s why our banks failed because we promoted the wrong ‘ideal’ people.

    • Simon
      Posted April 6, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      My friends and I all attended a truly appauling 6th form college in Woking and all got bad results in our A-Levels .

      I was the first person in our family to be educated beyond 16 and with my bad grades got into a south coast Polytechnic where the lecturing was no better and accomodation unsuitable and left after a year .

      My friends came from families with parents and close relatives who had been to university . They stayed an extra year , resat their exams and went to good Universities and were in halls of residence for the first year .

      Their families knew the education system , mine did not and what well intentioned advice they gave me turned out to be mistaken and counterproductive .

      One fell into plum job after plum job which would only be open to graduates who went to the right Universities and studied the right unrelated subjects .
      I think he thought the good times would go on for ever and none of his experiences have prepared him for the economic downturn .

      If your family doesn’t understand the way the game is played the odds are heavily stacked against you .

  12. Euan
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    The coalition is doing well promoting social mobility. I used to be middle class but now most definitely working class. Every day we wake up to more tax and news that billions are being given away to Pakistan or the EU. We see absolutely no action on cutting the bloated public sector, so I suppose that working class kids will be able to get jobs as Neighbourhood Empowerment Coordinators and then call themselves middle class. There’s precious little chance of them getting a job in manufacturing or indeed any private company as all the successful ones will relocate somewhere that doesn’t tax them 52%+20%VAT + all the other stealth taxes. What I’d like is some geographical mobility to get out before we end up as another failed state on the boundaries of the EU empire.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 6, 2011 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Pretty good summary job and social mobility destroyed by big government, big taxes and endless daft government schemes, regulation and endless initiatives.

      Just start firing all the pointless people in the state sector now or it will be too late to win the next election.

    • Yudansha
      Posted April 6, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      … and £27000 tuition fees at university. That sure helps with social mobility.

      This country will end up run by well educated Scots who got their courses for free and will never have to support elderly and infirm parents financially.

      • alan jutson
        Posted April 7, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        Brown, Blaire (as I understand it) both have Scottish backgrounds, they introduced tuition fees !.

  13. APL
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    JR: “How do you promote social mobility?”

    More to the point, what mandate other than the leftist agitation does the government have to try to do so?

    On a different topic:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/05/nato-lacking-strike-aircraft-libya

    What do you think of Camerons decision to attack Lybia now that the US have pulled out of the ‘alliance’?

    • zorro
      Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

      I went to Chartwell today to see Churchill’s abode and experience a little bit of history. I thought of Cameron and then dismissed him quickly so as not to spoil my (or Churchill’s) day……

      zorro

      • zorro
        Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

        A beautiful house and setting

  14. waramess
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    You are right. Social immobility is not caused through poverty it is caused through poor educational standards and now the government seek a cure through meddling rather than sorting out the cause. They cannot be so stupid that they are unable to see that in the main the private sector has produced the quality the state sector is so lacking.

    But where to start? Not so easy, particularly when socialist studies have “proven” that many of aspects of private education do not improve a childs chances of success.

    Take class sizes for example where we are now told it is “irrefutable” that the size of the class makes no difference to a childs performance. I was educated in a state school where classs sizes were 40 or more. All my children were privately educated in classes of between 7 and 15. But…..the State system has got it right.

    When will we get a government that understands the State gets in the way. It gets in the way of good education system it gets in the way of a good health system, it gets in the way of a sensible interest rate environment, it gets in the way of sound money and it gets in the way of just about anything it trys to get involved in.

    Were we to privatise schools and just ignore the socialist rants that we cannot let people make money out of our childrens education, then we would serve the next generation well. We would reduce taxes and we would encourage people to take financial charge of their childrens future .

    Society would continue to support those in need but by saving the cost of educating the children of the middle and sometimes the upper classes would be able to devote greater resources towards the poor at a lower cost.

    It is of course of some import that the State has now the burden to bear of educating Camerons own children. When will our Socialist brothers learn?

  15. Iain Gill
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    yes but even in a city full of comprehensive schools all comprehensive schools are very much not equal

    the kids born onto the sink estate are forced into the worst comprehensive in town

    and its not even fair on the afluent middle classes because they cannot live where they want they are forced to move into the catchment area of the best schools

    crazy mixed up set of policies

  16. StrongholdBarricades
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    What is bullying and what is competition/envy? What is peer pressure? Where is accountability?

    I also think the ethos of schools need to be changed such that pupils entering secondary education at 11 are greeted with a simple slogan: We are here to open as many doors as academically possible for you, and we can help you to learn the information that will help you to pass your qualifications

    I am a great believer in asking teachers if they can get a pupil to actually open a book. Whilst this country is going to formally educate between 4 and 18, it is also necessary to reinforce the principle that learning does not cease at the school gate. All jobs require some form of “induction” and further training which has to be documented to comply with government regulations.

    An example I would give: when I asked a friend’s son what he wanted to become after his GCSE’s he said “something to do with computers”, and yet upon checking his subjects included getting an E in maths and english (provisional). Is this the fault of the student or the school not being able to affect his aspirations?

    Another one: a sixth former last year failed to get his required 3 A’s to go to study medicine, so was going to take a year out to retake even though his teachers had told him that he probably could only raise his grades by 1 point each, and he would be competing with next years students, plus he had no family members who had previous experience of doing medicine.

  17. Damien
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    John,

    According to this recent McKinsey report ‘Power of cities’ London has been placed at 5th place out of 600 biggest megacities in the world by 2025 with the population of London projected to grow to 15.8m and an economy of £1,235 trillion.

    My point is that this implies a fairly steady growth in the economy and the number of jobs that will be available. The issue of social mobility will be of less a concern as we will have an increase in highly paid jobs at every level including the top.

    I would rather that politicians stop fretting about social engineering and prepare the nation for the massive growth as recommended in this report.

    http://www.mckinsey.com/mgi/publications/urban_world/index.asp

  18. Michael Read
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    It also means closing down the Institute of Education and satellite teacher training institutions which are promoting a pedagogy – based on Marxist thought – to which you are rightfully critical and opposed.

  19. John B
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    We have a political class who do not understand science, biology, inherited characteristics, Evolution or Human Nature or history.

    They believe if you take 100 individuals at birth and give them identical upbringing and education, they will all turn out the same, just what they are subject to is the only thing that will produce the desired outcome.

    Aspiration and ability are there in varying degrees according to the individual and cannot be put there.

    Assuming that the only thing preventing people from success is parental wealth and that by promoting people from low income backgrounds will propel them into professions shows the extent of ignorance among the political class and that it is impossible to have a reasoned and rational conversation with those who are in Government.

    Those with aspiration and ability will be socially upwardly mobile despite all odds against, those without will not no matter how nurtured- that is the history of Mankind and explains why we have an expanded middle wealth population who mostly came from times where poverty had its true meaning, when education was not freely available, from backgrounds which were not particularly good.

    There are also plenty of examples of social downward mobility, particularly as a result of primogeniture, and the offspring of well off families who were dunces and/or scoundrels.

    Of course aspiration and ability can be thwarted by an educational policy imposed by idiots who think keeping the well motivated and able back allows the poorly motivated and poorly able to go forward.

  20. Bill (not Bill above
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    With Grammar Schools we had selection by ability – now selection is by wealth – big step back

    Problem was the secondary moderns were underfunded and required some focus. Instead we dismantled the lot and ended up with a mess.

  21. Neil Craig
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Grammer Schools or something even more elitist. The amount of damage we do to ourselves by putting more effort into pretending all kids are equally capable rather than selectively pushing the best to be better has been calculated.

    “It made an even bigger difference if the smartest 5 percent of the population got smarter; for every additional IQ point in that group, a country’s per capita GDP was $468 higher.”

    http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/are-the-wealthiest-countries-the-smartest-countries.html

  22. Alte Fritz
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    As a parasitic lawyer, I seldom find much common ground with lifelogic, but he makes a cogent point when urging a culture shift towards wealth creating activities. No social goal has been achieved just by the arrival of someone from very poor origins into a prominent position. That has always happened.

    Something will be achieved when we see an end to the huge proportion of council tax spent on children’s and adult services, in other words, to control the dependency class. When some of that money saved is spent on stocking libraries with challenging books, and when state education can, in general, look the private sector in the face, something more will have been achieved.

  23. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Academically gifted children from poor homes are very unlikely to flourish within comprehensives, simply because the majority of pupils in them are actively hostile to academic learning. If you want that type of social mobility via the education system, you have to reinstate the grammar schools, with initial selection at about eleven.

    Selection for life at 11 is wrong and we are duty bound to cater for late developers. Annual aptitude and IQ tests should be de rigour in comprehensives and we should develop systems that allow gifted comprehensive school children to transfer to a grammar school or to attend some academic lessons at grammar schools (possibly in the evening).

    Another essential in state education is to stream out duffers and disruptive children, also children who can’t speak English, so that they don’t hold up the education of the majority. There is a very good case for children whose mother tongue is not English to spend their entire first year at school getting their English up to speed.

    • Simon
      Posted April 7, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Too right about selection at 11 .

      The comprehensive I went to in the 1980’s had an A-band and a B-band and only one person got promoted to the A-band in 4 years .

      That is not because the school had a 99.95% success rate in assigning children to the correct band .

      Although the school gave up on B-banders at age 11 , two of them have since proved to be entrepreneurial and have become self made millionaires .

      I’m not sure 2 streams are enough , what do you think Lindsay ?

      We can cut down that last category by applying proper citizenship tests to immigration candidates . Dial 1 for English , dial 2 to get deported .

  24. Martin
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I’m disappointed. No mention of Professional Engineers, Scientists or Entrepreneurs in your list of desired jobs in your second paragraph.

  25. forthurst
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    “It has bought into the socialist view that elite academic schools should only be available for the children of the rich” Pure doublethink.

    Lack of social mobility is a consequence of the destruction of the Grammar schools. Many Comprehensive schools are not suitable for academically able children and neither is the examination system. Grammar schools taught academic subjects, good manners and good diction. The Grammar schools did not fail and many of the best ones subsequently became private schools as an alternative to their destruction. If there was a failure, it was in the local authorities not providing Technical schools, thus exposing marginal children to an unacceptably wide chasm at eleven and more significantly, an unacceptably arbitrary reduction in their life chances.

    The present system does not assist academically gifted children by design. Had there been such a designation, no doubt, JR as a child would have had ‘special needs’ and consequently received all the assistance that his inate abilties and propensity for hard work deserved; such a designation now is exclusively applied to the least able and least well behaved, whilst the able and well mannered are to be ignored apart from the attentions of bullies often from a different community. There is no point in trying to reform a system which is ‘for failure’ by design. Apart from anything else, why should a maths or science graduate don Kelvar when he can earn more, more safely, in industry?

    Mr Gove, our indomitable Education Sectretary, is concerned about reading: had he examined the most popular Eng. Lit. set books, he might have observed that they were distinguished not so much by the quality and range of the writing to stretch the pupils comprehension and facility, but rather an opportunity for simplistic moralising about ‘good’ and ‘evil’ and the exposure to gratuitous foul language. Apparently he is not concerned that toddlers are being taught comparative religion and comparative sexuality. Had Mr Gove heard of Cultural Marxism and its application to the character formation of the young through educational grooming, or had he known that under this philosophy, dumbing down is as much an objective as the creation of colour blind, politically correct, subservient automata, he might have also realised why we have absurdly easy exams full of questions about moral and cultural issues in which ‘good’ students regularly obtain A* results and he would have grasped the actual problem he faces. What use is an A* in political correctness when you have a problem to be solved by the differential calculus? Import a foreign graduate?

    In addition to the reintroduction of laws against treason, without which a nation cannot survive, we also need laws against cultual subversion so that when those on our payroll like educators and the BBC use their positions to undermine our country with various forms of cultural grooming and dumbing down, they can be brought to book.

  26. cosmic
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    There are two views of how to achieve fairness:

    Give everyone the same starting prospects as far as possible and let them go. Equality of opportunity.

    Nobble the successful and promote the incompetent on grounds of quota. Fiddle the criteria for deciding success case by case. Equality of outcome. This has inherent contradictions.

    Anyway, there comes a time when it’s better to declare that things are as fair as they can reasonably be and stop meddling. We’d reached that stage decades ago. Continually tinkering and pursuing a nebulous and never quite reachable goal of fairness, is a recipe for not achieving fairness, or anything much at all.

  27. Andrew Johnson
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Reintroduce Grammar schools. This will allow the brighter children from socially and economically deprived backgrounds to get on with their studies, and then follow the familiar path to good university, job, career or profession.
    Prior to this, I would make it mandatory for every MP, to make unannounced visits to each of the comprehensives in their constituency. Then sit in on various classes throughout the day as a visiting observer and see how difficult it can be for bright children to learn under the comprehensive system.
    I would also make it possible annually, for any children who want to, to sit an “11+” type exam which together with their course work could be used as the basis to transfer to a grammar school. This means, you don’t exclude those children who develop academically later.
    The figures are there for all to see. Since the abolition of most grammar schools, social mobility has fallen dramatically despite ~Conservatives and Labour throwing billions at the problem. Authorities who retained some grammar schools, have the highest performing schools in the country.
    Now, how much would that cost? Possibly less than the £600 million Mr Cameron is giving to Pakistan’s education system.

  28. Javelin
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    There a bunch of things that are very easy to fix
    1) bonuses for head teachers whose grades improve over a multi-year period
    2) schools log and report all bullying and fighting on their website – and school governors, police, social services and ofsted monitor this closely.

    3) children are streamed

    4) non EU immigrants get second chance at a job. Companies must be forced to employ EU nationals unless no person could be trained to do the job.

    5) house prices must fall by 40% to be affordable

    6) competition must be taught at schools

    7) teach pride in our country and ourselves and less guilt about wars 100 years ago. St Georges day as a national holiday.

    • Javelin
      Posted April 6, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      I think Nick Cleggs comments today about people getting jobs because of who they know is utter rubbish. I’ve worked in first tier banks(and now hedge fund) for 25 years and I’ve never known anybody get a job because of who they know. Of course recommendations happen (“do you know a person who can do xyz?”). I think is there is any nepotism going on it’s through consultants trying to get other consultants a job in their firm. Competition is fierce in the city as any recruitment agent will tell you.

      Where the City is failing is that it is NOT taking on enough graduates. I can’t remember the last time I even saw a graduate in the City. Well I reckon 10 in the past 10 years.

      Banks would far rather employ cheap IT staff from India – via the subsidiaries they have set up there. Nick Clegg should look at all the VISA loopholes before he makes unsubstantiated claims. I suggest he goes and stands in the middle of Canary Wharf and counts the graduates and non EU nationals.

    • rose
      Posted April 8, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      5) house prices must fall by 40% to be affordable

      If women didn’t all work, house prices would be lower. Now they have no choice, but collectively they have raised their cost of living themselves, particularly of housing. The BBC’s Womans Hour still promotes this East German drudgeryas enlightened and progressive – dragging tiny children off to creches, not having time to shop for or cook fresh food every day, not being at home to police the neighbourhood or look after the elderly… but has it been worth it? It means men too have less time for hobbies and charity, as they must do their share of housewifery. Are they happier for it? And, as David Willetts points out, it means less employment for them, and less of a role for them to aspire to and maintain high standards of behaviour and morality. The 1960s Feminists weren’t as wise as their supposedly unemancipated grandmothers, and over-priced housing is only one of the consequences of their thoughtlessness. Double Mortgage Tax Relief for everyone? Nigel Lawson’s feminist reform was like giving everyone playing Monopoly a bundle of money – how could the properties not double in price?

  29. Winston Smith
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Socialists foster the ridiculous notion of instant equality They look around and see people from different races, cultures and backgrounds and then want to see that instantly represented across all professions. It is unattainable, which is why they deal so much in superficiality and tokenism. They also are complete hypocrites because they always seek to circumvent the Marxist dogma used to legislate their utopian ambitions.

    Climbing the social ladder takes years and generations. My own family have struggled through my parents tough, working-class, inner city life to me getting into Grammar School and professional qualification, to providing a good standard of living and educational support for my children, which will hopefully, take them a step further than I managed. Now a bunch of privileged, upper class politicians with their socialist dogma want to punish my children for the manual labour and frugality of my parents and the hard work and prudence of my wife and I for achieving social and economic mobility. It makes me sick with anger.

  30. Terry Connolly
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the clear thinking – spot on. You and Adrew Adonis should join forces.

  31. David John Wilson
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    The system needs to recognise that the intelligence and ability of children is genetically inherited from their parents. This means that on average children of parents of a lower IQ will be of lower IQ. Lower IQ parents in general will also as a result be lower down the social and earnings scales.
    Once this is recognised resources can be concentrated on those children who break the mould. What we need is a reintroduction of the old state scholarship but heavily means tested so that it is only available to those at the bottom of the social scale

  32. RDM
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Everyone is focused on Education! Important, sure, but not the only problem?

    What about those who would force everyone into the “World of Work”, and not focusing on equipping people to take what ever opportunity that is available to them? What ever age they are? Or ensuring access to things like Collateral, Project Finance, Capital etc …

    Trickle down economics (& Class) is long dead, long live an Enterprise Culture where we don’t care what other people have, we are all too busy building our own wealth! Not just money, but independence, etc …

    Surely this is the best answer to the problem?

  33. acorn
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    A radical move would be to shut down the Department for Education. Let Dave “The Brain” Willetts MP, run a much reduced education division within the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. The two departments already share the FE Minister. Introduce an education voucher / passport system – value dependant on age – that would cover the sustainable operating cost of any nursery / school / technical college / university, public or private; let the Counties or the DWP administer that; whichever is cheaper.

    If big business wants to buy in at any level, vocational or academic; let them and make it tax deductible. Get a lot more 14 to 18 technical high schools going; we need a lot more skilled tradesmen and we need to start them at 14 on this path; merge the FE system into these schools. For the very able kids, the Russell Group universities are better at picking winners than politicians, regardless of which school they come from, so let them get on with it.

  34. Susan
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    State education over 13 years of Labour has caused standards to drop considerably. The socialist ideal of keeping everyone equal has resulted in this one size fits all education system. The brightest and the best, therefore, are never able to reach their potential in the state system. Exams are easier and students go on to take easy degrees that are of little use to the employer. The education system needs to be tailored to suit the economy, otherwise students come out of the system with worthless degrees. This in turn sees many stay unemployed as they do not have the skills the employer requires. Until some way is found to introduce the sort of excellence that private schools are able to achieve, this will remain the situation for state schools.

    As to children from really poor backgrounds, I believe you would not only have to solve the education problems, but social problems as well. An underclass has developed in Britian, who have little aspiration beyond the next benefit payment. The generous benefits system has encouraged this to grow. Just throwing more money at this problem, will only make it worse. Children from these families are deprived, but not of money, but of aspiration to achieve. They leave school with barely the ability to read or write to any standard in a lot of cases and become benefit fodder. A something for nothing culture has also led them to believe, that role models come in the form of celebrities rather than becoming a doctor or engineer. Education is no longer seen as the panacea to a better life. A bright poor pupil in this environment at school does not stand a chance anymore, as disruption in the classroom and lack of expectation from teachers blights their chances. Solving poor parenting, lack of aspiration, and introducing the work ethic into these households is a must before any progress will be made. This will be a very difficult task indeed, as it seems in many ways, the Coalition are continuing with the same policies in education, as the Labour Government had.

    Of course all of this effects our economy, as a good skilled work force is a must for the future of the UK. Otherwise skilled immigrants will be needed to fill the jobs our people cannot do, and young British born people will remain out of work.

    As the quality of education has declined in the state system, so has the quality of some of the teachers coming into the profession who have come from the same system. Some way must be found to make sure pupils are being taught by teachers who are of the standard required and are able to keep order in the classroom. Again, some teachers seem more interested in the equality agenda than good teaching methods, political bias does seem to be ever present.

    Social mobility dropped under Labour and I think it will be many years before it goes up again.

  35. English Pensioner
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    State schools rarely encourage competition among their pupils because it is “divisive” or “unfair” or “discourages the slow learners” with the result that the education is dumbed down to the slowest, leaving the bright pupils bored and restless. The state teaching ideology fails to recognise that some children are brighter than others, its the way of the world.
    Conversely, the Public Schools set high standards and try to encourage everybody to meet them and encourage the weak pupils to try to raise their sights. And I’m quite sure they don’t have all the electronic gizmos that modern schools apparently need for Power Point presentations and the like.
    Even 30 years ago, when our youngest daughter started school with a reading ability of a much older child because she was determined to be able to do anything that her elder sister could do, we were effectively told off as it was “very inconvenient”, an attitude, which to my mind, is typical of state education.
    I’m afraid that our grandson, at just turned two, is going to follow in his mother’s footsteps, which means that granddad will probably end up having to contribute towards a private school.

  36. Cliff
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    As I see it, based on watching and listening to my three grandchildren, our education system has been far too politicised over recent times. I feel it is no longer an education system but more an indoctrination system focused on leftie ideals and views.

    At this rate, following our Conservative PM’s (sic) latest announcement blaming us for all the ills in the world and then “Doing a Gordon” by throwing money at a foreign country’s education system, we may be better off sending our children to Pakistan for education.

    John, I thought we were broke and that was the reason we are all going to suffer stress over the next couple of years; where has Cast Iron Dave got this money from; has he borrowed it? Would this money not have been spent in our own schools, educating our own people in order to make us competitive in the world’s workplace? I know I’ve asked this before but, if I went into my bank in Market Place, Wokingham and said to my bank manager that I was completely skint, I had maxed out all my plastic and exceeded my overdraft but I wanted him to give me a huge further advance so that I could donate it to a foreign charity, what do you think he would say?

    Who do you think has the biggest ego; Clegg, Blair, Brown or Cameron? My own view is that there is little to choose between the four.

  37. Mike Fowle
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    I think most people’s view of education is very much shaped by their own experience, especially if they don’t have children. I went to a grammar school, which enthused me and imparted high standards. The problem comes from the large percentage who weren’t selected and were – notwithstanding the fine words about secondary moderns – written off. Social mobility is surely self evidently a good thing. But I am rather inclined to side with Waramess about the government just getting out of the way.

  38. Mark
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Present government policy will do an excellent job for social mobility. All those with talent are being given every incentive to be very mobile and emigrate.

  39. Adam Collyer
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    “The government does not want to create grammar schools in every town in the way John Major once promised. It has bought into the socialist view that elite academic schools should only be available for the children of the rich, and not for the rest.”

    Quite. Indeed, David Cameron called the defenders of grammar schools “deluded” in 2007 and accused them of “ideological self-indulgence”.

    UKIP, on the other hand, supports the setting up of new grammar schools.

  40. Richard
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Promote social mobility…. well abolish inheritance tax for a start, thus enabling parents and grandparents to pass onto their families what they have earned in full.
    Give people the right to buy their council owned property so they develop some capital to pass on.
    Promote wider share ownership and abolish of taxes on savings under say the first £5000 interest earned
    Bring back grammar schools, perhaps the greatest force for the liberation out of poverty for poorer families this nation has ever seen.
    Give every parent an education voucher for each child they have, to the notional value of a state education and allow them to spend it wherever they want.
    Abolish catchment areas and allow schools to decide who they want in their schools and allow them to expell who they want to as well.
    Allow schools to break free from the stranglehold of LEA and Local Council control and help the popular ones expand to meet demand.
    Give scholarships and bursaries from the state to deserving poorer students so they can go onto higher education.
    Simplify planning rules and building regs so that more affordable homes could be built for struggling first time buyers.
    Sorry if this sounds a bit…dare I say it…. Conservative…

  41. Bazman
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Cameron, Clleg and Osbourn got where they where by hard work alone? Yeah right.
    I presume ‘education is a code word for contacts, clearly everyone who went to Eaton or the like does not have a profession that needs education and anyone who went to a inner city comp was not in the Bullingdon club. The ruling elite maintaining a hegemony at many levels and no amount of ‘education’ is going to change this. Maybe lessons in confidence and other social skill might be more beneficial, when everyone is a rocket scientist then who will do the work? Many children are being sold a lie that if they get good grades which many cannot, who are being lied to even more, they will be OK. Often the children lack the social skills and background through no fault of their own to get the grades and even if they do are on little more than a paper chase. Their upbringing brings then down. What are we going to do about that?

  42. MG Stobo
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    Article is spot on but local authorities have known for the 36 years of my teaching career how poor many of their schools were .Directors of Education failed to confront their political masters who in turn convinced their electorate that a new school and/or extra resources equated to educational improvement .All shadow over substance.Pupil rights have displaced enforcement of decent standards of behaviour not just by staff but among pupils where all too often the bully wins.The telling question to ask a member of staff in any school is “Would you be happy to send your son/daughter to the school?” I have worked under head teachers whose silence answered the question,the greater indictment being their failure to even attempt to be able to say “Yes” .Finally a plea:dont blame the teachers as they must work within the guidelines laid down by the HT and he is the only person who can set the standards in the school.How many actually believe in the policies they are implementing?

  43. Javelin
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    The main Marxist educational psychologist is a guy called Vygotsky. He was a Russian who used believed that we internalize tools (language etc) from society. He believed in dialectic materialism and studied Marx and Engles – who talked about apes and how man evolved and used tools as part of their evolution to man. A flaw in left wing thinking is that they believe that society can function without social hierarchies. In the ape world there would be chaos with social hierarchies. Vygotsky – and modern educational psychology has almost nothing to say about social hierarchies. They have almost nothing to say about motivation and social movement – their only take on this is to believe entrepreneurs exploit the workers by owning the means of production. So without this theory the educationalists have nothing to justify their agendas.

    • Javelin
      Posted April 6, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      Sorry on that last sentence – they have nothing to justify a syllabus that promotes social mobility.

  44. zorro
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    John,
    An excellent time to comment on this subject……I’m just watching the Jamie Oliver show on giving wasters an opportunity to meet David Blair (helpfully set up by Mr Campbell) and generally spending money on spoilt, pathetic children who quite frankly make me sick. Other children who want to learn don’t get opportunities like this….I am frankly sick of your government and others from the last forty years who have ruined our children and our future. These children lack love, discipline, friendship, respect, humanity and most other things which could make them into decent human beings. They are not alone amongst their kith and kin. God help us all. The language is sublime….everything that is wrong with this country. These children ‘deserve’ nothing…..The education system should be there for those who want to learn. Grammar schools are best. Cameron and Clegg are wrong and will not improve the lot of this country. For those who don’t, let social darwinism take its course…..yes really

    zorro

    • Bazman
      Posted April 7, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      ‘These children ‘deserve’ nothing….’
      They might not see it that way and think they deserve your car. What are you going to do about that? Lock them all up?

  45. Jon Burgess
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    If we can agree that education is for the benefit of the children being educated (and I’d argue that for the comprehensive zealots their prime motive is egalitarian social engineering to the detrement of all children), then anyone with any common sense realises that gifted children should be taught together and encouraged to compete with each other in the pursuit of excellence and in an environment that encourages learning. This equally applies to acedemically gifted children and those less acedemic but gifted in other ways.

    Do 50% of children need a university education? Of course they don’t. This was a ploy by Blair to try to fiddle the youth unemployment figures, but which has ended up ruining what was once free university education to a select few who benefitted most from it.

    The removal of corporal punishment in schools was a mistake and should be reversed. It has led to no discipline and all children now suffer because of this. Is this what was intended? Was protecting troublemakers from a smack with a slipper on the backside really worth it?

    The grammar school system was not perfect but was far superior to what we have today. How many poor children benefitted from this system? How many grammar school children made it to the best universities? Many many more than do now from bog standard comprehensives.

    Now the only selection in schools is by wealth; by buying into the catchment areas of good schools, by miraculously becoming a convert to a certain faith to get into the local good faith school. Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly comfortable with people paying for private education for their children. What really grates, however, is someone like Blair or Cameron who could afford private education, but instead chooses to take a state school place for their children from one of the few good state schools. Hypocrites. But then again, Mr Cameron claimed his full entitltment for the mortgage interest on his second home, didn’t he?

    If the conservative party have abandoned selection by ability, then that’s their problem (and shame on them for doing so and being so shy about it. When was this decided, by the way?). One other party that I can think of still supports this fundamental concept and the conservatives deserve to lose the votes of those people who would like to see selection return to schools.

    What do you say Mr Redwood? Do you support the conservative party’s surrender on education, or do you support selection by ability?

  46. wab
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    “How do you promote social mobility?”

    The Russell Group of universities should announce that no child of any cabinet minister will be admitted and instead their places given to “poor” students, no matter how badly the latter have been educated by the State system. If the idiots running the country allegedly believe in social mobility, in spite of the fact that almost all of them are prima facie examples of people who got ahead in life because of who they knew rather than what they knew, then they and their families should be the first ones to make the sacrifice.

    • Mark
      Posted April 7, 2011 at 12:01 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately the PM has already signalled that he is in the line of politicians who are prepared to sacrifice the education of their children to political expediency.

  47. CHEESED OFF
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    If the Educational template in state schools were to be the duplication of Independent schools’ methods and general ethos the execution would fall naturally into place.

    If the policy were defined as ‘An Independent School education without the all the expense’ parents and the general public would easily understand and support it – and we’d be getting somewhere at long last.

    It’s been said here before and I have no qualms at going on saying it til someone listens!

    • Simon
      Posted April 7, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      Would a copy of the public school system work if it didn’t also include the element of financial sacrifice on the part of the parents ?

      There is an element of carrot and stick here isn’t there ?
      – public schools doing a better job of inspiring pupils to learn
      – children knowing their parents have made financial sacrifices makes them try harder

      I suspect most parents who send their kids to state schools believe they are outsourcing all responsibility whereas those who are paying through the nose make sure the money isn’t wasted , take more interest in their childs education and demand higher standards of the school .

      As a nation we’ve got to review our priorities .
      Why for instance do we pay police officers so much more than teachers ?

  48. backofanenvelope
    Posted April 7, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    I actually went to a Secondary Modern; I joined the RAF, spent 22 years in the ranks, got commissioned and retired as a Senior Officer.

    When I left full-time education in 1953, we had a system that worked. Grammar, Technical, Secondary Modern, Further Education, night school and correspondence courses. Its faults were easily rectified by more funding. Someone decided to scrap the lot and introduce comprehensives. Step forward the politicians.

    Re-introducing the assisted places scheme and rapidly increasing the number of grammar schools would be the quickest and easiest way of increasing social mobility.

    • Bazman
      Posted April 7, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      The system looked after you and at the end gave you your secret RAF pension, but what about the majority of the population who will fail the test?

      • Jon Burgess
        Posted April 8, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

        They fail the test and get on with their lives doing something other than going to university or running the country or working in a bank. Maybe they set up their own business like Richard Branson did, or maybe they do what the contributor did and join the forces, or maybe they just become some kind of deadbeat loser. But whatever happens, it’s their life and their choice.

        Unfortunately life can be hard. Some people get on, most get by and some don’t. But that’s life.

        The point of the above contributors note was that he didn’t get to grammar school, but was still successful. It didn’t matter. But what did matter was that secondary modern schools still managed to teach more than most comps do today. A lot of that is down to discipline (or the lack of it now) and the rest is down to the destruction of any kind of ethos of excellence, competition and aspiring to gain knowledge.

  49. rose
    Posted April 8, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    I agree with your remarks on academic excellence and scholarship. But more needs to be done too to restore respect for and skill in manual work. We are fast becoming a can’t do country which just imports engineers et al. Gordon Brown was wrong to say he wanted more people to be middle class, and John Major was wrong to want half the population to go to university. Where would the Germans and Japanese have been if they had disdained manual skill in this way, and allowed it to wither on the vine?

  50. zorro
    Posted April 8, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Let them try it……they wouldn’t need to be locked up.

    zorro

  51. J Cleaver
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    It’s a bit depressing to be told that “your email is NEVER published.” Was it worth writing this, then?

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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