Social Mobility and Youth
State-schooled workers may face a ‘class ceiling, that makes it hard for them to gain top jobs, research suggests.
It was with some interest that I read this headline. As you know, I work in schools with a lot of talented and gifted students, the whole aim being to get them into the universities normally reserved for the privately-educated children. And this is no easy feat, with most of them needing all A and A* grades at GCSE and at least an A*AA in their A-levels. These students work really hard to break the mould and win places at the Russell Group elite. And it isn’t easy to teach them to reach higher, when most of the messages they get are about “them being more than their grades” and the fact that it is who they are, not what they get, that matters. And while I can’t argue with that, this research shows me all I already know; that getting along in life is about who you know, not what you know and if you work hard and get into a top university you mix with people who will help further your career later in life.
And the research speaks for itself
Almost half (45 per cent) of FTSE 100 senior executives went to fee-paying schools, compared to just seven per cent of the general population.
More than one in four (28 per cent) attended Oxford or Cambridge, according to the study by diversity firm Equal Approach.
The report examined the school background of chief executives and chairs of FTSE 100 companies who were educated in the UK.
In the oil and gas sector, 60 per cent of the senior executives went to private school. Similarly, in the media industry, 57 per cent of chairs and CEOs went to private school.
So if you go to a university predominately reserved for those fortunate to receive a private education, doesn’t it go to pass that you will be mixing with the next CEO’s of huge corporations? Of course it does. It may not be right, but it is whether we like it or not how things are. That is why education matters in my mind, because a good education gets you to mix with the future leaders, and for any interested or maybe even pushy parent like myself, you want your children to mix with leaders.
I know lots of you may disagree with me, may think my thought process is flawed and you may be right.
Of course, the answer lies in making more opportunities available to bright, state-educated students; no-one would argue, but the situation is far much more complicated than it first appears. I mean, where does the real problem lie? Is it a lack of aspirations in state-educated children? Is it a stuffy attitude from the universities? Is it that private school children are pushed more by their parents and school? Is it that private school education is better? Is it purely about money?
It is about them all, but mainly it is about how to we increase social mobility. How do we ensure our bright, talented state school students are able to ascend the social mobility ladder as easily as their privately educated counterparts? And I am not sure that is such an easy one to answer, or even if it is something we desire as a nation so entrenched in the class system as we are.
When working with bright state school students, we have to involve the whole community and take a truly holistic approach, involving parents, schools, universities, community leaders, role models, young people themselves and a desire from the adults to want this to happen. It will require state and private schools to come together to form solutions.
It is possible; I do it and I see it but it is not easy. I work with children from Year 8 to see a change in year 11. It is not a quick, easy fix but one I believe we should put effort and resources into.
I would love to hear your thoughts.
Interesting article Rich People Just Care Less