The Secretary of State for Education has said he rejects the argument that pupil achievement is overwhelmingly dictated by socio-economic factors – or that schools are powerless to help children succeed if they were born into poverty, disability, or disadvantage.
Michael Gove, in a speech at a leading private school, began by saying he finds it ‘remarkable’ how many positions of wealth, influence, celebrity and power are held by people who were privately educated. He said:
‘The sheer scale, the breadth and the depth, of private school dominance of our society points to a deep problem in our country – one we all acknowledge but have still failed to tackle with anything like the radicalism required. We live in a profoundly unequal society. More than almost any developed nation ours is a country in which your parentage dictates your progress. Those who are born poor are more likely to stay poor and those who inherit privilege are more likely to pass on privilege in England than in any comparable county... this stratification and segregation are morally indefensible.’
But he goes on to reject the idea that ‘deprivation means destiny’ – that schools are essentially impotent. Such fatalism is ‘profoundly reactionary’, Gove says, because it denies the possibility of progress through human action. There are a growing number of state schools proving that, with ‘the right teaching and the right values’, children from deprived backgrounds can outperform people’s expectations of them.
Source: Speech by Michael Gove MP (Secretary of State for Education), 10 May 2012
Links: Speech | BBC report | Guardian report