At the chalkface: One in five

If pupils are too poor or “challenging” they’re somehow chucked out. It’s all the go. You don’t want to screw up those league tables. So “poorer” children must be excluded… Ian Whitwham, a former inner city London teacher writes in SecEd.

“Poorer pupils far more likely to be in failing schools, finds research” – so goes the limp and dismal headline. Well, knock me down with feathers. This could pertain to anytime in English history. I don’t know which is more depressing, the fact or the findings.

And it does beg a few questions. “Poorer” than what? What is a “failing” school? One with “failing” pupils? What’s a “failing” pupil? A “poorer” one? Do “poorer” pupils cause schools to “fail”? Murky stuff. 

In England “poorer” pupils are nine times as likely to attend an “inadequate” school as the wealthiest. 

Other dreary headlines confirm these things: “New exams favour the rich.” Don’t they all? “Disadvantaged pupils doing watered down curriculum.” It was ever thus. We had Secondary Moderns in my day. “Schools funding will hurt poorer pupils.” I thought it was meant to do rather the reverse. “State schools more socially exclusive than ever.” Enough already!

We are creating an underclass with nothing to lose, who will probably have a career of gangs, drugs, deep maladjustment and jail. They will swap school for jail. They go from ill-nourished pupils to fully fledged criminals.

Zilch is being done about this. Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, chirps up: “No child should be held back from reaching their potential because of their background.”

Well, knock me down with another feather. There’s no fooling her. So it goes.

Read the full article At the chalkface: One in five

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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