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How do we overcome the class barrier and reach out to our outstanding working class students?

Discussion in 'Shape the agenda' started by Nouri, Jul 30, 2019.

  1. Nouri

    Nouri New commenter

    As teachers, we have a saying "no barriers". We do our utmost to make sure every child prospers with their education, investing time and energy into breakfast clubs, lunchtime clubs and intervention sessions after school, so that they can realise their potential. We teach children about resilience, pride, respect, involvement, determination and excellence. We inspire our tutor groups by giving them the names of Russell group universities. We even go the extra mile and take them to visit these universities, to help them believe that for working class children it does not just have to be a dream, it can become a reality.

    However, it appears that the barriers for a working-class child, no matter how inspired or talented, do not stop once they reach a Russell group university or even when graduating with a first class degree. In order to reach the ‘elite’ roles in society, (judges, senior civil servants investment bankers, higher managerial roles), they must persevere and show they have developed the necessary social standards, dropping working class accents and mannerisms. Social codes and a polished accent are still almost mandatory and will be the barrier at their interview stage, within many organisations in banking, the media and certain public institutions.

    Yet we never stop hearing from the establishment, its institutions and Westminster that they are encouraging diversity and inclusion. It seems to me we need radical thinking, and we need to encourage the potential in each one of the children. We must prioritise variables such as intellect, character, and talent, instead of obsessing over the superficial, such a posh background and an accent that fits with the organisational norms and culture.

    In other words, it is time to say, your future does not depend on where you come from but what you can contribute to the organisation with your talent, intellect and character. After all, this is 2019, not the Middle Ages where each citizen knew their place in society.
  2. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Schools spend a lot of time teaching children to write clearly. Schools spend little or no time teaching them to speak clearly, and to avoid mannerisms such as 'know wha' I mean?', 'It's important, like' and the perpetual glottal-stopped t.
    colpee and jarndyce like this.
  3. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    How do we overcome the class barrier? Simple, get rid of all form of fee paying schools. Make all education equal.
    An organization can get into trouble if it shows bias in it’s hiring policy. Organizations which exclude women or black people rightly face legal recourse. Why not apply the same thinking and prosecute organizations which exclude working class or state educated applicants.
    Channel 4 has a terrible record of not recruiting working class or state educated employees.
    Dodros, afterdark and bonxie like this.
  4. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Resulting in parents who want better schools for their children sending them to schools overseas? (Just as many wealthy parents from the far east currently send their children to English boarding schools.)

    If you want to make education equal, you need to raise taxes high enough for state schools to be able to spend the same amount per pupil as independent schools (an average of £14,466 per annum for an independent secondary pupil versus an average of £6,200 per annum for a state-educated secondary pupil).
    jarndyce likes this.
  5. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    Or tax breaks for fee paying schools could be removed bringing in some extra tax which could be spent on state schools. The idea that fee paying schools are treated as charities is ridiculous
    Dodros, afterdark and bonxie like this.
  6. koopatroopa

    koopatroopa Senior commenter

    This is what needs to change, not something we can do in schools. If society continues to value traits perceived as upper class, and insist candidates ape them, nothing will improve.
    katykook likes this.
  7. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    They are not automatically treated as charities. They have to convince the Charities Commission that they do charitable work, largely through providing free and reduced-fee bursaries for children whose parents would not oherwise be able to afford the fees. About 75% of independent schools have charitable status and award £350 million a year in bursaries. Removing their charitable status would mean losing those free places and would only result in the government receiving an average of £100 million a year in extra tax over the next five years. The number of independent schools seeking charitable status is dropping at the rate of about 2% a year, because the tax saving is so small compared with the cost of providing bursaries to justify charitable status.

    Stopping schools from reclaiming VAT might produce more, but that would mean state schools as well as private schools having to pay VAT.

    Basically, what you need is legislation to stop people spending their own money as they wish. It could include other useful things such as making it illegal to fly overseas for holidays in order to help tackle global warming, and outlawing the purchase of champagne or any alcohol costing more than £5 a bottle, and making it illegal to purchase private transport such as cars. Long Live the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, comrades!
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2019
  8. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    " The number of independent schools seeking charitable status is dropping at the rate of about 2% a year, because the tax saving is so small compared with the cost of providing bursaries to justify charitable status."

    So their claim for charitable status is a purely fiscal calculation, no trace of altruism anywhere.

    If every student went to a state school, there would be no elitism. It is beyond doubt that the "polish" sought by the elite employers, is largely learned at school. Hence the ridiculous situation that government cabinets are largely drawn from only a handful of fee paying schools and Oxbridge.

    In my opinion, the fundamental question is simple. How much money is the government willing to spend to destroy the class barrier?
    katykook, Dodros and afterdark like this.
  9. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Teachers that those pupils can identify with. Little else will work.

    I work with challenging working class pupils and have done for many years now. If they can identify with you and see that you are genuine, value them as people, have had some similar elements in your own background and don't bull-**** them, it's an easy job to win them round and make amazing progress. If they can't identify with you and you don't really get them, then forget it.
  10. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    So do you think it better not to choose people from the top two universities in the world, according to this year's Times Higher Education Rankings? Might it be better to have people who never went to university, like Ian Duncan Smith, Nigel Farage, Alan Sugar, James Dyson and Richard Branson?

    Don't you believe it. There are state schools and there are elite state schools, as many famous MPs know very well when finding places for their sprogs. The Benns at Holland Park, the Blairs at London Oratory, the Gove girl at Grey Coat ... and many, many more.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2019
    border_walker likes this.
  11. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    You lefty, advocating tax rises.

    It might not stop elitism but it would be massive step in the right direction.

    No. Finland reached the top of international tables by barring schools from charging fees.

    Some years back, there was a lot of media hype in the UK about why are Finnish students "doing so much better than" UK students, with the distinct undertone that media wanted to paint a picture of UK teachers as Sh.yte. But then along comes Micheal Moore bumbling into the facts and what a telling tale it was. Cue virtual media blackout on that one in the UK.

    You seem to be blending socialism and communism together.

    Tory governments have a long history of increasing the Tax burden of the poor. The poor in the UK today don't have to worry about spending money on overseas holidays, they are queuing up at foodbanks. You seem to be a little out of touch with the realities of being working class.
  12. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    There was a BBC video about this recently

  13. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    There is much research which shows that diverse teams come up with much better solutions quicker than teams made up of similar people. All of the Eton boys will think like Eton boys and come up with answers affected enormously by the Eton culture. They are incapable of thinking in a way that a council estate kid fighting the school system all the way to university might think. The combination of council estate kid and Eton boy in the same cabinet could result in unique solutions. I guess we will never know.

    Oxford PPE is way over-represented in government. Career politicians trained to be politicians and little else. I do believe that government should represent their electorate. Black, white, gay straight, state school and fee paying school, they should all be represented. The massive over-representation of the 9% of privately educated UK people in the government ( and in the media) is, in my opinion, a major reason for the perpetuation of the UK class system and it's intrinsic socio-economic segregation.
    katykook, Nouri and Dodros like this.
  14. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    There were no Old Etonians in the cabinet when Theresa May resigned. Technically, there is now one (the prime minister), although there are more among those who, while not being cabinet ministers, are allowed to attend cabinet (Dr Kwasi Kwarteng, Jo Johnson and Rees-Mogg).

    About half the current cabinet went to state schools: Sajid Javid, Liz Truss, Dominic Raab, Priti Patel, Andrea Leadsom, Gavin Williamson, Grant Shapps, Mark Spencer, Oliver Dowden, Alun Cairns, James Cleverly and Baroness Evans. I agree that the proportion might be bigger and that the tendency to prefer people who read PPE at Oxford encourages a sort of in-breeding. But refusing people just because they went to the world's top university is probably not a good idea.

    Whether you could get more "council estate kids" not only interested in politics, but willing to stand as Conservative MPs and be appointed to the cabinet is debatable. Even Labour finds it easier to recruit from the socialite circles of Islington and Barnsbury. A job that includes being slagged off daily in the press and on social media is unlikely to appeal to many.
  15. Nouri

    Nouri New commenter

    When your social justice system is not helping to bridge the gap between what we label as "council estate kids" and those from "Eton/Harrow kids", this helps to undermine the true meaning of equal opportunities for ALL. This can lead to mediocrity in the long term as personnel in the City and certain British institutions are not appointed for their merits but because of their networking (sometimes going back generations).
    The latest financial crash caused by certain elitists privately educated and well connected financiers is an example in mind. Then as a society, we had to bail them out!
    Time to judge people on what they have to give and not on where they come from, whether they belong to the likes of Bullingdon Club or not and what social mannerisms they bring with them! Ticking for the superficial is not the best criteria for a successful organisation in the long term.
    Jonntyboy likes this.
  16. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Can you prove that? Applicants who have received a private education generally tend to do better because (1) most of the well-known independent schools are highly selective (2) smaller class sizes and better facilities result in many getting better GCSE results (100% A*-C is not uncommon) and better A-level results, which in turn leads to more getting places at the top universities.

    And there was everyone thinking that the financial crash was caused by sub-prime mortages in the USA.
  17. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    I have many times been in meetings full of privately educated, well spoken half wits who could barely tie their own shoe laces. I have also met many very clever working class graduates who had no chance of ever achieving their potential because of the prevailing class system. This was particularly true when I lived in London.

    I watched an excellent program about a working class architect who wants to build proper social housing. His whole premise was that there is a whole class of people in the UK who will never be able to own a property due to carefully inflated property prices who will only ever be able to rent housing which is totally in the control of private landlords who charge enormous rents. The architect wants to build quality council housing in the UK like they do in Austria. Most telling was the interview with the housing minister who confirmed that the government will not be building council houses, instead they will hope that developers will build 'affordable' housing as part of larger private developments. I just cant see one of the Eton boys ever feeling the urge to improve council housing for the masses.
  18. Jonntyboy

    Jonntyboy Occasional commenter

    I can hardly believe that anyone posted this on here. Are you really involved in education? Have you really thought it through, or is it simply a repetition of something someone once told you when you were young?
    "Make all education equal" seems like some kind of meaningless mantra that George Orwell might have satirised.
  19. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    I am involved in education. I write what I believe. My beliefs are based on a lifetime of experience of discrimination based on educational background. I have taught in some of the most socially deprived areas of the UK. The students I taught in those schools had none of the advantages which Eton kids have and that to me is wrong.

    If state schools were funded properly there would be enough teachers so that teachers have more planning time, school buildings would be properly maintained, there would be teaching assistants to help the growing number of students with learning issues, schools could present students with a diverse curriculum containing art, music and computing. I am particularly worried that less than half of English state schools offer GCSE computer science.

    Currently the state sector suffers from poor salary and ridiculous workload and teachers are voting with their feet. I am one of them. The government is perfectly aware of this and chooses to do nothing.

    Education is the key to social mobility. Getting rid of all fee-paying schools would equalise the opportunity to access the same standard of education. Only educational bigots want to retain the Etons of this world which are simply an anachronism.
  20. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    I think most people would prefer to see state schools raised to the level of the best independent schools, rather than everyone dragged down to the level of Hell High.

    However, you are deluded if you imagine that everyone would have access to the same standard of education if fee-paying schools did not exist. You need only look at the way that parents who can afford it move into the catchment areas of the best state schools in order to avoid their children having to attend undesirable local schools.
    Jonntyboy likes this.

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