New research from the Orwellian sounding Centre for Social Justice has stated that children from the poorest homes risk becoming an educational underclass. The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) study was produced by a panel of educationalists, chaired by Sir Robin Bosher of the Harris academy federation. The report damningly states that ‘an abysmal start leaves children unready for school.’ The report goes on to demonstrate this by stating that some children arrive at school in nappies and behaving like toddlers. The Think Tank Director Christian Guy drew his conclusions from the report identifying that “White, working-class boys are in danger of becoming an educational underclass,”
The report which is heavily critical of parents identifies broken homes and disengaged parenting as the cause of this ‘educational underclass’. The study talks of the impact of family breakdown on children and how much they can be damaged by instability in their home life. The lack of a male role model in families is also described as a factor affecting pupils’ behaviour. “Emotional neglect” from disengaged parents is also a damaging factor for children’s development, says the study.
So lets say a big well done to the Centre for Social Justice for identifying there is a problem that school’s already knew was there. So what have they done about it. Put pressure on the government. Started campaigns targeted to inspire these parents who they are blaming? No. They have created a label. A label that now writes children off at the age of 4.
This phrase educational underclass is truly damaging. I am not saying that there are not issues that need addressing and that parents have no responsibility for ensuring their child is toilet trained, can communicate and concentrate when they start school. The report identifies that there are 700,000 children living with parents who are “dependent drinkers” and 335,000 with “dependent drug users”. This is scary and action must be taken. However, this is not the fault of the children, yet it is the children that are being socially labelled in such a negative way.
Sometimes semantics are really important. Britain historically divides itself through class. Surely the Centre for Social Justice have a responsibility to take this into consideration, and word their reports with more social sensitivity. Their phrasing of educational underclass immediately creates barriers to improvement as marks children out as being different.
A Department for Education spokesman said: “This government is taking decisive action to support disadvantaged pupils and close the unacceptable attainment gap between them and their peers. We are increasing the pupil premium to £2.5bn a year and doubling the number of disadvantaged two-year-olds eligible for free nursery places to 260,000.” I think this can only be a good thing as we cannot ever provide to much funding to our children. Yet, no amount of funding in the world can recover the damage if a child is labelled so negatively.
But this educational underclass has already been created and labelled. Sadly it is here. At YogaBugs we never write children off. We know that within just 10 weeks we can make a big impact and bring about positive change with every child. Over the course of a school year, our ‘Impact & Change’ programme would lift every child out of this disgustingly labelled educational underclass.
So Sir Robin Bosher and Christian Guy, perhaps you need to get in touch with YogaBugs because we will not allow an educational underclass.