Social mobility is a hot topic for us this month as there is no doubt that Britain's social progress has stagnated over the last half-century.
One in six children living in poverty will continue to be labelled as "born to fail" if Britain doesn't overhaul its "exclusive" education system and radically re-think the approach to social mobility.
It's time we had some new thinking to some old questions...
Why are the working class STILL not valued as partners?
If, as a nation, we cared that many children under achieve or fail, we would engage in a partnership between parents, carers and the teaching community in a structured way and value all parents and carers as equals.
Why do working class children not achieve?
There is no evidence that the working class cannot achieve - in education, employment, housing and health. What there is, however, is a lack of societal ambition outside of spurious targets set by decision makers (like university entry) that only concern 50 per cent of the population at best.
Why is school considered irrelevant by the working class?
The current school curriculum in England and pedagogy is built upon middle-class values and lacks social and cultural relevance to the most disadvantaged children and families. This presents more barriers than opportunities.
How do we meet targets to get more working class young people into university?
We don’t. It is one of the greatest social injustices of our time that in modern day Britain the prevailing view, particularly by those in power, is that the working class are failing and need to be rescued from their situations.
Who can ensure another generation of working class children are not failed?
The power rests within us all. With new thinking, mutuality, respect and collaboration working class children can succeed from birth, at school, in post-16 study and in the workplace.
We must move fast and galvanise society to act against what is ultimately the social injustice of our time.
Why are our children still born to fail?
In her new book, ‘Born to Fail? Social Mobility: A Working Class View’, Achievement for All CEO, Professor Sonia Blandford, takes the current conversation about inequality in Britain and looks – through her own personal lens and wealth of professional experience – at what we’ve learned (and what we have failed to learn) about the working class in Britain, the true meaning of social mobility, and what the impact – if we can get it right – could have on us all.
The launch of this common sense manifesto coincided with a discussion panel on social mobility at the Conservative Party Conference run in partnership between Achievement for All and the Education Policy Institute (EPI). Leading voices in education took part in the debate on disadvantaged and vulnerable learners incuding Robert Goodwill MP, Minister of State for Children and Families, Rt Hon David Laws, Joan Deslandes OBE, Head at Kingsford Community School in East London and Laura McInerney, Editor of Schools Week.
Speaking about the book, Laura said:
‘Blandford may be the first Professor to have failed her English qualification five times – but this heart-ripping, brain-provoking book uses words perfectly to explain why class is not the same as disadvantage, why social mobility isn’t something well-educated teachers can hand to chosen children but is something every child must be helped to choose for themselves, and why something as simple as playing the cornet in a school musical can be life-changing. Practical, hard-hitting, and packed with evidence, this is a manifesto for looking again at how we really make schools work for everyone.’
Laura McInerney, Editor of Schools Week
The forward of the book is written by Rt Hon David Laws.