Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Triumph of Comprehensive Education

Fascinating stuff in the Times about the Spatial Literacy project, which among other things allows you to map the incidence of your surname worldwide.

But it was this bit that struck me :

Sharon was the most downmarket name, followed by Michelle, Lee, Tracey and Darren. Using GCSE results to show areas where middle-class parental pressure was highest, the research suggested that Felicity, Katherine, Philippa, Penelope and Elisabeth were the poshest first names. “We believe they can be described as the poshest, though you could argue they are the cleverest,” Professor Webber said.

Professor Webber doesn't strike me as a stupid man. As a director of Experian and developer of the MOSAIC system, he probably knows as much about social class and geography as anyone.

So forty years after the privately educated Labour education secretary Anthony Crosland promised to close every grammar school in the country, a man who knows considers educational attainment to be the most useful shorthand for social class in Britain.


Verity said...

Eeeek! He missed out Jolene! And where's Dwayne - or Duwayne? And Cher and Cherie? What about Leanne? Hey, man! He doan kno nuthin' 'bout trailer trash names!

Verity said...

Billy Jo.

Verity said...

Any name a single black mother in Britain or America has made up for her child in the forelorn hope of making it special.

If only they could get it through their heads that Felicity and Jonathan would serve their children far better.

dearieme said...

At my daughter's school, there was a Charlotte surplus; at Uni they are Amy-rich.

Verity said...

Well, dearieme, to be fair, there is always a most-popular name every year or two. At least they're always traditional names.

For more downmarket names, I would suggest people who have named their children after neighbourhoods. The Clinton's kid Chelsea, for example, and Prince Williams' girlfriend who goes one step further by being named after the London borough, but spelling it cute: Chelsy.

Anonymous said...

This is Mr Chalk's Top Set Bottom Set in full effect.

Does anyone have a link to an archive of his old blog?

dearieme said...

Verity: I think you've got it. My daughter must have got out of phase with names by taking a gap year.