Friday, 7 September 2007
This is a more thoughtful piece of research by Donald Hirsch for the Joseph Rowntree Trust, deserving of rather more attention than the Staffordshire suppositions. Low expectations bedevil education in this country, and until we raise them among both teachers and pupils, we will not narrow the gap between the poorest and the best off youngsters. In fact, the evidence (pdf: see Table A) suggests that it is the skilled working classes who have gained most from educational improvements in recent years, but the bottom fifth (or probably tenth) have made fewer gains. Whether a wide-ranging children's review is the answer seems doubtful, though clearly both extended schools and Sure Start have a big role to play. Far more important will be maximising the number of youngsters who make the grade in the 3Rs as early as possible.