Accidentally listen to a politician speak on the radio or TV, or read what they’ve said in a newspaper and it won’t be long before you hear one of them play the emotive Social Mobility card. Now All Change Please! is of course all in favour of enabling members of the population to improve their position in life, but our politicians seem to have a rather different and somewhat skewed view of the electorate’s aspirations to all become judges, doctors, lawyers, journalists and, of course, politicians. And All Change Please! suspects that in reality the potential for social mobility is better now than it’s ever been? (Discuss…)
The latest culprit appears to be our esteemed foreign secretary William Hague – AKA The Hood – talking on the BBC Today programme:
The disturbing thing, I would say, is that in the 30-odd years since I was at a comprehensive school, it probably in those intervening decades will have become a bit harder for somebody from a comprehensive school to become the Foreign Secretary, or whatever position they aspire to.
That reflects on a long period of this country falling too far behind in the world in state education, and thankfully we now have the best Education Secretary in living memory – or longer – who is trying to put that right.’
To which the ever-dependable Tony Wheeler responded:
It’s not state schools that hamper, it’s independent schools that have indoctrinated parents, pupils and the most powerful into believing that it’s worth breaking young people in order to keep these jobs in the old firm/family.
I am a product of comprehensive education and the most important thing it taught me is that I do not want to be a senior politician or a Whitehall civil servant or a QC, or a senior banker or a hedge fund manager or any of the so called “top” jobs eagerly snapped up by the Eton and Charterhouse Tory boys. I know enough about what makes me unhappy to know that I would have to significantly break myself to be able to take on any of these roles.
As a teenager I had a big enough ego to believe I could’ve been anything I wanted to be but the idea of spending any time with this bunch of broken people was just stupid. I was having too much fun doing all sorts of exciting stuff and I wanted it to continue as long as possible.
It’s the Oxbridge elite (widely touted in this debate as in charge of all this stuff) who have mucked up the banking system, the health service the BBC, the transport system, power and water services. Their list of abject failures is endless. I think it’s time the proletariat woke up to the uselessness of this axis of evil and told them all to bugger off down the Job Centre…
And of course the reality is that during the 30 years since Hague attended his comprehensive school, standards have risen dramatically – from a time when a minority achieved O levels and the majority obtained second-best CSEs, to today when around half of children getting a grade A to C grades GCSE in at least five subjects. Let’s just hope and pray Hague has a better grasp of Foreign Policy than he does of Education.
Meanwhile Hague is not the only member of the gang. Here’s another politician who comes to praise Gove and not to bury him. Over the weekend the Torygraph published the following article by Boris Johnson:
in which he makes some interesting, if controversial, points, before spoiling it all by writing:
There are kids everywhere who have a natural, if undiscovered, flair for mathematics and the mental arithmetic that business needs. They just don’t have the education to bring out that talent – which is why Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, is so right to be conducting his revolution in schools.
Over the past 35 years All Change Please! has encountered many talented children whose artistic abilities have been side-lined in favour of academic subjects, but never one who has been held back from doing mathematics.
The belief persists that simply making mathematics – and other academic subjects – more difficult is in itself going to improve standards. Perhaps therefore we should somehow contrive to simply make parliamentary process more difficult, in order to improve the standards of politicians….?
Image credit (lower): Flickr Mark Scholl