Education Underclass

(183 Posts)
OddSins Thu 28-Nov-13 18:02:53

Having exhausted the "Superclass" thread, there seems to be support for this conversation.

By way of approaching it. Do we agree there is one, who are they, why does it exist and what can we do?

Ill leave my tuppence worth to later.

SatinSandals Thu 28-Nov-13 19:19:53

Yes, you can spot them at 2 years and that is where the money needs to be spent. It is the children who are not talked to and not stimulated, who have no idea how to share and get on with others-that is those growing up in households where the parents have very poor parenting skills, for whatever reason.

LEMisafucker Thu 28-Nov-13 19:22:38

Oooh a judgey thread . cosmic!

SatinSandals Thu 28-Nov-13 19:33:57

It is a fact and a shame that they are not picked up really early, it would be a huge saving later on.

pointyfangs Thu 28-Nov-13 22:29:19

I agree with SatinSandals - there are a lot of poor parents around. It isn't their fault, many never had anything good as a model. These are people who need money and time and support invested in them - it will make their lives better as well as helping their children. There's nothing judgey about that, it's just a manifestation of the enormous social and economic inequality that still exists in the UK.

Some of these parents are affluent and middle class and still not good parents.

SatinSandals Thu 28-Nov-13 22:34:48

Exactly pointyfangs.

ReallyTired Thu 28-Nov-13 23:06:56

I think you have to be careful what you judge as good parents. An inablity to read and write or having a low IQ does not mean that someone is automatically a bad parent.

SatinSandals Fri 29-Nov-13 07:09:55

That is not what we are talking about, ReallyTired. I know MN has this peculiar obsession that the more accomplished your child, the better the parent must be, and if you get one to Oxbridge you must be superb, but that is not how it works!!

An inability to talk to your child, however simplistically, an inability to empathise with their needs and plan for them. An inability to recognise they have needs that are separate from your own.

The amount of children who are arriving in nursery (usually school nursery, as other nursery or pre school options may not have been explored) who are pre-verbal and wholly unsocialised (in relation to their peers) is a great worry. This does impact on their development significantly.

pointyfangs Fri 29-Nov-13 08:30:17

ReallyTired agree absolutely - it is not at all about intellectual ability or the lack thereof. It's about being able to nurture your child, recognise what they need, provide it if you can and seek help if you can't. I used to work in an area where there was huge deprivation - much worse than where I live and that is pretty bad in places. It was not at all unusual to come across families where the default tone of communication to a child was shouting and swearing. I reiterate - I don't necessarily blame those parents because they probably never learned how to do it differently, but the fact is that they are rearing another generation who will not function in society.

However, even in that area those families were a minority - but they still should have had help to break that cycle.

SatinSandals Fri 29-Nov-13 08:39:25

Exactly, nothing to do with money or class, except that those with money can delegate, it is attitude and poor parenting skills. Those with the poor parenting skills are generally part of a vicious circle and they had no role models.
They are easy to spot. It isn't a question of being 'judgy', it is a question picking them up and giving them the best of nursery care in small groups very early. If not they are lagging behind by 5 yrs and only the exceptional get through the education system and break free of the cycle.

wordfactory Fri 29-Nov-13 09:51:38

I actually think the majority of DC in the uk are in the educational underclass. Yes, there are stratas within that underclass which allows the powers that be to get away with it.

Slipshodsibyl Fri 29-Nov-13 09:57:55

Word that is a big statement. Would you define it a bit more please?

LEMisafucker Fri 29-Nov-13 09:59:34

My dd had speech delay and struggles at school nice to know that people think she is part of some sort of underclass and her parents dont/ cant interact with her. So yes this thread feels judgey to me

wordfactory Fri 29-Nov-13 10:12:08

slip I think a relatively small number of children in the UK are receiving an education (and I'm using the word in its broadest sense) that will facilitate a life with the most meaningful of choices.

The rest receive an education that will not facilitate this.

Within that large group there are stratas. The highest will recieve a better education that will facilitate some choice. The next strata down a few choices etc until the lowest strata are left with no choices. The disenfranchised, if you will.

However, this large group have far more in common that they wish to believe, in that they are excluded from the small group with meaningful choice. But rather than waking up to this, they will argue amongst their stratas (pace this thread) seeking superiority from the stratas below.

They will also do the small group's job for them by excluding themselves and saying 'well I wouldn't want to be in that group anyway.'

I agree with Tony Parsons on this (and you will never ever hear me say this on any other subject). The underclass, the working class, the middle class are one, if only they could see it.

pointyfangs Fri 29-Nov-13 10:24:06

LEM it may well be that some people will think this, because they don't know you. That is not what this thread is about though - it's about what we can do to help those parents who struggle to build the sort of family most of us would see as 'normal' - as in, one with loving parents who do everything in their power to support their children, no matter how tough the start they have had in life. You clearly fall into that category, and it is a shame that people who look at you in passing don't see that.

Slipshodsibyl Fri 29-Nov-13 10:46:41

Thanks for explaining Word. When you say middle class, would you include your own immediate family in the this group or somewhere else?

pointyfangs Fri 29-Nov-13 10:53:42

I think wordfactory has a huge point about education in its broadest sense. It isn't about only people who go to Eton having life choices, a lot of it is about what happens at home too. Education doesn't start and end at the school gate, and given the enormous pressures on parents to keep a roof overhead, food on the table, the heating on etc. it is not surprising that in many families there just isn't that continuation of what education should be.

It isn't about museums and stately homes either, it is about talking to your children and getting them ready for the world out there.

Money is definitely an issue as well - we live in a world where opportunities do depend on finance. Look at unpaid internships - how many parents can afford to fund those for their children? We couldn't, and we are resolutely middle class and consider ourselves quite well off.

Metebelis3 Fri 29-Nov-13 11:24:08

word Do you genuinely believe that any child who doesn't go to a top ranking private school (so that would include your DD too, right, because she isn't at a ferociously selective day school, you've said in the past) is part of the educational underclass? Or do you believe that any young person who doesn't go to Cambridge or Oxford is part of the educational underclass?

I do agree with you that many people kid themselves about their situation - including those mis-esteeming the middling- poor 'grammars' in some parts of the country, the poor private schools we see almost everywhere, the people who talk about 'RG universities' as if that mattered (if you are afraid to name your uni then it's not top tier - and there are unis that aren't in the RG, e.g. UEA, that are much better regard than unis that are (for some subjects at least)). But that's not the same thing as everyone who isn't stinking rich being part of an educational underclass - people from schools that aren't Eton can and do get the opportunity to join the 'global elites' so favoured by some posters on here (why, I really can't say).

wordfactory Fri 29-Nov-13 11:29:16

slip I think my own family are a bit of a muddle.

I see the middle class as that traditional strata of society that we might call the professional class. Unfortuanely (for them) as pointy says, they tend not to have enough cash to penetrate the small educational grouping.

We are not part of that group. I was brought up on one of the country's worst council estates. I was working class, latterly underclass.

I then got myself educated and earned a lot of money. DH ditto. We're not middle class, though. We don't hold their traditions and values. We don't share their anxieties. We don't give a toss about the indicators of being middle class.

We have penetrated the small group by virtue of money (predominantly), knowledge and desire.

wordfactory Fri 29-Nov-13 11:53:06

met I don't think only a handful of schools and Oxbridge are the only entry point. But I do believe the doorway is becoming narrower and narrower. Young people approaching from different routes (and there will always be people who do this) still need to know where the door is and how to work out the operating code.

Is my DD part of the educational underclass...tough call. I happen to adore her school. However, I can see that for some of the girls in it, it offers no more access to the entry point than a good grammar school. So...

DD has made the call herself and decided to decamp at 16 to her brother's school. That's her choice.

pointyfangs Fri 29-Nov-13 12:04:08

I agree with your point about knowledge, word. I think the term is 'cultural capital' - knowing how to behave in certain situations, having the social skills to be able to fit in, having a range of background knowledge about science, the arts, music, politics, current affair, being able to hold one's own in a serious debate - these are all key skills.

If our DDs find their opportunities, it won't be predominantly money that does it in their case, it will be knowledge and drive. But acquiring that knowledge if it is not available in your household is hard. I admire you for having managed it.

TheSporkforeatingkyriarchy Fri 29-Nov-13 12:07:40

It isn't all about money or class and it isn't all about the parents, it's also about society as has been pointed out.

It benefits those at the top to have a mass undereducated population both to do the jobs that they require but don't want to do themselves to maintain their status and comfort as well as to maintain the hierarchical status quo. It's getting to crisis point now with far too many in the educational underclass to fill needed specializations and still they do little but play around the edges of educational and social reform because it benefits

I live in an educational black spot. Of the secondary schools accessible to us, only one gets over half of their students to the basic standard of 5 good GCSEs or equivalents - and that's a selective school with an entrance exam. It does help by taking their first 50% from those in the 5 poorest wards, but it's obviously massively oversubscribed because it's pretty much the only game in town in our inner city. There are a few other 'nice' schools at the edge of the city, but most are quite poor and known more for their violence and self-harm problems (sadly even that best school have had recent reports of horrificly violent bullying). Even more sad is that the services don't expect more or push for more.

My children have had someone whose job it is meant to be to help lift them out of these issues and help parents that are being described (as my kids are young carers who have dealt with bullying and social isolation) and she plain said that bullying was just something everyone has to push through and that the education standards of our area are just what should be expect in this area. She gives far more effort in wanting to get the house redecorated than in dealing with their social isolation and gaining access to community resources. Seriously, she went on about how nice it would be to get the laundry area painted, about new bedding and planting flowers, but try to get her to talk to the kids about their difficulties in the area and how to connect to community resources always gets brushed off. It's become quite upsetting especially to have someone who is meant to helping to improve my kids' chances and lives talk more about the colour of their bedroom walls than my kids' actual concerns and desires for friends and connecting with others. Daft yet typical of what we've dealt with. Doesn't even help with the work, just gives us ridiculous timelines that don't take our disabilities into consideration. Very frustrated with with official help falling apart and causing more pain at the moment.

We say parents should do X, Y, or Z, but society rarely actively encourages these things. It's all about productivity and short-term fixes (like doing up a bedroom), and pushed a million and one things that can do the job better, and the media rarely shows a well functioning family actually doing these things and facing these issues. There is no mirror or window or any real encouragement beyond a finger wag that they should know better or shouldn't have kids in the first place. There is little practical or reflective that support the things that kids need because it's easier to complain and continue the status quo than consider what is actually needed and helping to set up system that make that happen that actually work long term.

My kids are the bottom of the statistical barrel educationally, and yet are as aspirational as any other (far more than I was at their age and I had far more though no educational encouragement). My DS1 wants to built robots and robot suits to help and protect people, DD1 wants to be a doctor (well, a doctor-pilot-artist). They should be able to be able to have a fair crack at trying, but really I don't know if the doors will be open for them to do so. I can only try my best but there are a lot of barriers in place that don't need to be there, but those that benefit from the system as is are not in any rush to help pull them down.

Metebelis3 Fri 29-Nov-13 12:19:03

Word It still seems to me that 'the door' is wider than it was when we were kids (I am assuming you are the same age as me, you may of course be younger or older, your DCs are slightly older than my oldest ones, I think...) Wider for girls anyway. Wider for well educated non working class girls than it was for super achieving working class girls back in the day.

However it is incorrect to assume there is only one paradigm for success. You yourself decided to take a different path than the 'one true global elite way' so beloved of some MNers. Not everyone wants to be a politician, a diplomat, work for the magic circle (and many are called but few survive) or the Big 4 (ditto) and I don't think acknowledging that fact is hiding ones head in the sand over exclusion. There are far more attractive (to many) and lucrative (to some) careers which are more exclusive, less tied to education and more tied to nepotism and 'who you know'. By a quirk of fate I have a lot of friends from my, it turns out, not so misspent, more 'ahead of the curve' youth involved in writing/drama/production. Many of them work with broadly the same people most of the time. Now, that's an exclusive niche. But this happens all the time, in many different areas...I think my point is more, there are other lives than the ones presented to us as the only ones that are worthy of aspiration.

wordfactory Fri 29-Nov-13 12:31:43

met you're right. Things have improved in terms of access for women, ethnic monorities etc.

I'm 46 BTW.

But in some ways I think things are harder. I went to Oxbridge when competition was not remotely as stiff as it is now. And it was free!

I tumbled out of university and headed to the city, choosing between offers. They actually paid us through law school, such was the hunger for fresh blood.

No internships necessary.

Yes, I turned away from the industry, but I had a meaningful choice. I had already penetrated.

These days, it would be almsot impossible for someone from my background, nay most backgrounds to do what I did. For the vast majority of young people there's just no meaningful choice.

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