Thursday, June 15, 2006

Keeping Poor Kids Powerless

Can't understand it. The comprehensive system is producing the best-educated generation in our history, yet social mobility is declining - and has been since the grammar-school cohort dried up.

Fewer state-educated kids make Oxbridge than forty years ago. And fewer state-educated kids are getting to the top in journalism.

More than half the UK's top 100 journalists went to private schools, a survey for an educational charity says. The Sutton Trust, which helps youngsters from underprivileged homes, also said that more than half of those with degrees had been to Oxbridge. The proportion privately educated had risen since 1986 from 49% to 54%.

The trust's report said: "A common perception among leading editors we spoke to is that the gap in ability between those from private schools and those from state schools has widened over the last few decades. Young, independently educated aspiring journalists, they argued, are just more confident, knowledgeable and self-sufficient at an earlier age than their state school counterparts."

So the privately educated children of the Toynbees and Aaronovitches should have no trouble following the Hattersleys, the Rozenbergs (Mr Melanie Phillips), the Lee-Pollards, the Corens, the Davieses and a host more into the hereditary guild of British journalism.


Joe90 said...

Be interesting to know two things:

First, what proportion of leading editors themselves went to public schools.

Second, what proportion of children today are educated in public schools compared to, say, thirty years ago.

Rick said...

It's is obvious - Grammar Schools were the main route to advancement for pupils in The North. Most public schools were in The South.

Having gone to a Grammar School I rubbed shoulders with the Camerons and the Osbornes at Oxford...........the structure and discipline and competition made it possible to get to places that less effort and direction could not have attained.

Look at what Trevor Brooking said about SportEngland and the proportion of Olympic Athletes from independent schools; and the proportion of doctors, physicists etc.

It is the Independent Sector which now teaches Real Science, has real playing fields, and structures education for learning. The Grammar School started out in the 1st Elizabethan Era and was destroyed in the 2nd Elizabethan Era.

dearieme said...

Judging from the tales of my daughter's friends, it would appear that the gap between Oxbridge and the rest has also widened in recent decades - at least in Arts subjects.

Anonymous said...

Could it be that the multi-culti, broadminded Editors of Newspapers such as The Guardian and Independent, like people who are like themselves (public school educated, very PC, and speak proper). I've always sensed a disdain for "commoners" amongst our intelectual elite.

Funny how the Metropolitan Elite have kicked the ladders away, keeping the "chavs" and "commoners" where they belong.

Rick said...

Funny how the Metropolitan Elite have kicked the ladders away, keeping the "chavs" and "commoners" where they belong.

That was their dream - most of these public schools were academic dross pre-Comprehensive. They were revitalised and those who could pay felt relieved that the dreaded meritocracy had been defeated

Martin said...


You forgot the Dimblebys and the Snows.

Clematis Fraud said...

Do (or did) Ms Toynbee's children go to public schools?

Please tell me this is not so.

Anonymous said...

The neo-Marxists who run the country realised that grammar schools lifted the brightest people out of drudgery and into the professions. This was bad news for the adolescent upper-middle-class socialists who yearned for revolution.

Instead, potentially bright and articulate sons and daughters of the working class were to be kept where they were born, so that frustration could amplify their 'talents' and lead the working classes into revolution. Oh, and it also just happened to eliminate competition for mediocre middle-class children competing for public sector/media positions, of course.

Also, by another amazing coincidence, it happened to keep an enormous group of people in a position of dependency on "well-meaning" middle-class liberals, who would be provided with lots of opportunities for vigorous hand-wringing.

Anonymous said...

Dearime, I don't think "arts subjects" are going to move a nation forward.

Anonymous - the last anonymous before me - yes. Agree completely. There has never been such a manipulation of an entire population than in Britain. Perhaps because we're this famous island nation, which now doesn't mean a thing. Too bad we spent so much time defending it and our culture and values for so long when we could have simply sailed off to the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Oz, Singapore, India ...

Rick said...

There has never been such a manipulation of an entire population than in Britain

The late Economic-Planner John K. Galbraith once said the only two peoples on which economic experiments could be conducted without revolution were the British and the Chinese

Joe90 said...

Anonoymous wrote: "The neo-Marxists who run the country realised . . ."

It is quite possible that attempts to get rid of the old tripartite system of education have resulted in some of the effects you describe, especially the reduction in social mobility which has been observed over the past two or three decades. And doubtless that works out to the benefit of the middle classes.

But it strains credibility to suggest that was the intention of people like Crosland. He was upper-middle-class and went to public school, but he was hardly an adolescent nor a 'neo-Marxist'.

Branding Fabian socialists and the like as 'neo-Marxists' is the right-wing equivalent of leftists spluttering 'Fascist!' or even 'Nazi!' at anyone who, say, disagrees with policies of mass immigration. The notion that the world's fourth biggest capitalist economy is run by 'neo-Marxists' is absurd. New Labour aren't even social democrats.

Grammar schools had/still have a lot going for them. But no-one here has mentioned the other side of the coin: the old 'factory fodder' secondary moderns to which children were consigned on the strength of their performance in the 11-plus.

Would you want your children to go to a secondary modern if they didn't do well in an 11-plus exam? I'd want mine to have a bit more time before they were slotted into place for the rest of their lives.

dearieme said...

An anonymous: the Arts subjects are what journalists tend to read. The gap in Sciences may also have widened, but I don't have a source on that.

Hilary Wade said...

Joe90 - I believe there was also a thirteen-plus, two years on, to give a second chance to those whose academic abilities didn't materialise straight away after junior school, but were latent nonetheless.

Anyhow ... even having another member of your family, (not necessarily yourself) going up to grammar achool was an asset. Have you read "The Family from One End Street?" The second child, Kate, gets a scholarship; and this, for all the children, opens a door to a completely different world from their own - social mobility in action.

Rick said...

Toynbee had chaotic parents - she was at a private school originally but failed the 11+ then was sent to Holland Park Compregensive because her parents could afford the real-estate.

She got to St Anne's, Oxford where she dropped out................looks like she never really got to grips with the notions of having to apply herself and work - probably too opinionated from upbringing

Anonymous said...

Lucky for Toynbee that she had parents wealthy enough to buy their way into a good area, but that is the Liberal/Left hypocrisy on education writ large: selection on the basis of ability is the ultimate evil, but selection on the basis of your wealthy liberal parents' bank account is just fine.

Tom Paine said...

I have checked on the school's website because (as one of the first people educated in comprehensives) I realised the Polly is too old to have been to one. Sure enough, it has not been a comprehensive long enough for her to have attended it in that guise.

Besides, it's inconsistent with the fact that she failed the 11+ (evidence, along with Prescott's much bitched-about failure, of the validity of the exam). I have corrected her Wikipedia entry.

How interesting that despite having been sent to what Joe90 called a "factory fodder" Secondary Modern, she went onto Oxford!

Grammar Schools were a way up for the workers, but Secondary Moderns were clearly not a way down for the privileged scions of the ruling class - even those whose parents were too mean or too doctrinaire to pay for private education - however stupid they were.