Friday, February 17, 2006

Comprehensives 'not helping working classes'

If comprehensives improved social mobility, one place you'd expect to see the benefits would be Scotland because unlike England, we have no grammar schools at all up here. However, according to a report published by Professor Lindsay Paterson and Dr Cristina Iannelli of Edinburgh University's education department, abolishing grammar schools in Scotland had "no impact" on helping people move between social classes.

But their findings don't seem to support the return of grammar schools - rather, it argues that too much emphasis is put on education as an engine of social mobility.
"'If education could have an independent effect [on increasing social mobility], then Scotland should show it - but it does not,' the report said. 'The similarity of social mobility experience to England and Wales shows that wider social and economic reforms are more important.'

Professor Paterson said there was a danger that politicians were heaping too much responsibility on schools to remedy society's problems.

He said: 'Fiddling around with education systems does not in itself make much difference to people's social mobility chances. We tend to lump everything on to schools and want them to solve everything from drugs to health and relationships, but they're not that powerful.'"
Indeed they are not - and if comprehensives haven't done working class kids many favours, neither has this emphasis on the extrinsic social benefits of education. It may come across as pretty simple-minded but it's occurred to me before that one of the reasons for the declining social mobility between classes must be due at least to some extent to the fact that the social ladder is so much longer than it used to be.

No comments:

Blog Archive