Social Mobility – the Coalition’s great leap back

by Dan Johnson

The question ‘how many black people go to Oxford?’ sounds like the beginning of a very bad joke, unfortunately that joke is our education system and no-one is laughing.

Oxford isn’t racist, I don’t think it’s sexist, I don’t think it still has the same attitude to class that many perceive it to have. The problem isn’t the universities, it’s the government. Universities can only accept people who get the grades, and the grades of everyone in state schools depends on the funding going in to the schools, the teachers, the headteacher and their parents at home.

I should declare an interest; I’m a governor at both a further education college and an academy in my hometown of Thornaby, they are both great institutions that do a great job with the tools they are given. Unfortunately there are going to be fewer tools in future.

SureStart closures will affect those who can’t afford anywhere else, and will also remove valuable training opportunities from young mothers.

EMA has been removed from those whose family earns above the free school meal threshold (£16,190), so if you have two working parents who are both on the minimum wage you won’t get a penny, how’s that for targeting? It now emerges that the new rate won’t be £38 a week: it’ll be £30; it seems Nick Clegg thought that state schools were like private schools and only have lessons for 31 weeks of the year.

The ‘pupil premium’ will take money away from poor pupils in poor areas and give it to poor pupils in well-off areas, and that’s before you factor in an increase in the number of pupils.

The Tory answer to social mobility is to bring back grammar schools. We can see first-hand how grammar schools work, just look to Northern Ireland. The most able pupils do marginally better but the least able to significantly worse. Thankfully the government is resisting the call, but it is still creating a two-tier state system with the introduction of free schools and the roll-out of academy status to top-performing schools.

We need a well-balanced work force in the future and that requires better schools and a better start in life for many children. I don’t really care that Nick Clegg had an internship with a Finnish bank (he may need the contacts in 2015), what I care about is the scorched earth policy this government is leaving to the next generation.

Dan Johnson is the Labour party candidate in Stainsby Hill, Thornaby in the local elections this year.

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2 Responses to “Social Mobility – the Coalition’s great leap back”

  1. Julian says:

    “The problem isn’t the universities, it’s the government.”

    OK. So which government is the cause of there being so few black people at Oxford? Those who are studying at Oxford now presumably applied in 2009. It doesn’t look as though EMA and SureStart were much help.

  2. iain ker says:

    ‘…what I care about is the scorched earth policy this government is leaving to the next generation.’

    I think you’ll find that it was the last government that scorched the earth. Who can forget Liam ‘I Want My Skimmy Cappuccino At 11 Sharp Or Else’ Byrne and his ‘There’s no money left’ note.

    And here’s me always saying that the (Pretrendy) Left don’t do comedy.

    Mind you, do you know anyone who’s ever been to a Mark Steel concert no me neither.

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