How can schools help working class children in an education system that’s failing them?

“I really don’t care – do you?” That was the slogan printed on Melania Trump’s jacket (from Zara, fashion watchers) that made headlines back in the summer when she visited detention camps for migrant children. Kevin Harcombe, a Teaching Awards winner and headteacher writes in Teachwire.

It also happens to be a neat summary of a malaise in our schools which Ofsted boss, Amanda Spielman, and her predecessor, Michael Wilshaw, are laying squarely at the feet of non-migrant families, ie white working-class Brits.

“I’m working in parts of England with white British populations where the parents don’t care. Less than 50% turn up to parents’ evening. Now that’s outrageous.” said Wilshaw.

They are often exhausted, battling against the odds to simply survive in a system that seems massively rigged against them.

Certainly, some parents have little respect for schools and teachers, but why are we surprised? Teachers are ‘experts’ and even Michael Gove has had enough of them (though not as much as we’ve had enough of Michael Gove).

What can schools do? We must relentlessly raise aspirations and explicitly sell education to unwilling buyers – the children, if not the parents – as a way to a better life, in terms of self-fulfilment and possibly in material terms too.

If parents are too useless or knackered to support their child’s education, you either give up on the child or do something about it for their sake, just as we do with safeguarding.

Not supporting your child in education is as neglectful as sending them to school dirty or hungry. It’s hard teaching such children, but whichever children turn up on your school’s doorstep is what you have to work with. If you can’t get the parents on board, bypass them for the sake of the child.

When an educational statistician was asked what students need to do to maximise their chances of achieving the best grades, she said, ‘Be born to middle class parents.’ We’re talking accidents of birth here.

Read the full article How can schools help working class children in an education system that’s failing them?

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

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