Working class children must learn to be middle class to get on in life, government advisor says

The Telegraph is reporting comments from a government adviser suggesting that a lack of cultural experiences such as visits to restaurants and theatres and the way they dress are holding working class children back…

Working class children must be taught to think and act like the middle classes if they are to get into the best universities and top professions, a Government adviser has said.

Peter Brant, head of policy at the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, said that children from poor homes need help to change the way they eat, dress and conduct personal relationships to get ahead in life.

In a post on the commisison’s blog he said that bright children are less likely to apply to top universities because they are worried about “not fitting in”.

He said that they need to become more comfortable with middle-class social setting such as restaurants, theatres and offices if they are to succeed…

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has said that state schools must set their standards “so-high” that they become indistinguishable from the best fee paying schools.

However, Mr Brandt said that middle-class politicians are placing too much focus on education, and often fail to realise the need to make poorer children feel “comfortable” in middle class settings…

Mr Brant suggested that visiting different places, watching plays and having varied hobbies can help give working class children “shared cultural experiences” with those from middle-class backgrounds.

He said that young people from working class backgrounds have less “nuance and casualness” in their relationships with other people. They also wear different clothes, eat different food and visit different restaurants.

He said that these factors should not be ignored because of the government’s focus on GCSE results and educational attainment.

“One helpful thing would be more awareness of this as a potential issue – it can often be unappreciated by policy makers who mostly come from middle-class professional backgrounds.

More at: Working class children must learn to be middle class to get on in life, government advisor says

Your thoughts on these comments from Peter Brand – is he making a fair point and, if so, what can be done to overcome the issue? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…

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Categories: Policy.


  1. cllrsamwebster

    SchoolsImprove maybe some Government Advisers should be working class, maybe then some of them would understand how the real world works.

  2. GWMainprize

    DCC_ianthomas Any arguments re ‘class’ seem ridiculous, regardless of where they come from or what they’re being used for.

  3. LobbyComm

    getcarter66 SchoolsImprove Tories turning clock back again. The good old bad old days. Elitism and class begore ability. #REMEMBER

  4. LobbyComm

    RC_Garrick getcarter66 SchoolsImprove Pick out the best and leave the rest behind. Working class to be ashamed of~most must know place 🙂


    getcarter66 LobbyComm SchoolsImprove If #Dennis Skinner MP took that advice he’d be just another cloned Tory dick like geraldhowarth

  6. GillHitchin

    DCC_ianthomas It’s the old cultural and social capital debate. My fave sociological idea. Can have them regardless of class and economics

  7. mattpearson

    The neoliberal policies of both Labour and the Conservatives for the last 25 years and a concentration of UK economic activity on finance rather than manufacturing, and a constant drain or resources from all parts of the UK to London has ensured that child poverty has been steadily rising.  The last time I looked visiting the theatre, having the right kind of clothes and eating out all cost money (a lot of it sometimes).  The reason that working class families do not behave the same as middle class families is because they don’t have the same amount of money.  The catastrophic rise in the use of foodbanks (many visits are from families with children), speak to growing numbers within society without sufficient money to feed themselves. If Peter Brand thinks that forking out for a trip to see ‘As you like it’ will somehow magically transport those kids into a middle class sanctuary of wealth and prosperity then he’s so out of touch he really should consider a career in politics.

  8. Given the embarrassing ineptitude and sociopathy of the upper middle class incompetents littering the corridors of Government, Boardrooms and Public Bodeis these days I suggest that we try it the other way round. If Gove and his SPADS had learned to think, eat, dress and socialise like the children and young people I taught in Darlington and Middlesbrough our nation would be a happier, livelier and more prosperous place.

    Too much schooling, not enough education.

  9. thislast

    SchoolsImprove There is a bitter irony in noting that the DfE is now stuffed with badly-educated toffs flaunting their ignorant sociopathy.

  10. RC_Garrick

    LobbyComm getcarter66 SchoolsImprove I get the impression that the aide in question needs their horizons expanded….

  11. TheoKL

    mattpearson although it’s complete tosh … when a site called ‘schools improvement’ takes it seriously ……then we have to worry

  12. mattpearson

    TheoKL the original story was in the Torygraph. Fits with dominant narrative of the poor being feckless and ignores structural poverty

  13. MLBrook

    cllrsamwebster SchoolsImprove talking about my experiences, and printed it on their front page, without caring how it may feel to me.

  14. MLBrook

    cllrsamwebster SchoolsImprove if you read Peters blog post, much of what he wrote was a summary/quoting from my post

  15. Rustylink1

    deputycgreen Sherbs1 I shd add I’m not certain that always represents improvement for individuals, the community, or cultural diversity?

  16. Rustylink1

    deputycgreen Sherbs1 I’d prefer to tackle same issues by focusing on bolstering the self-confidence/estime of individuals. More difficult?

  17. Sherbs1

    Rustylink1 deputycgreen That task is made allthe more difficult because wepersist with a system that generates low esteem in large numbers

  18. deputycgreen

    Rustylink1 Sherbs1 Although this is a little depressing, I think in modern society it’s essentially true.

  19. Henrouss

    deputycgreen Rustylink1 Sherbs1 meh. We all put on our interview suit to get a job. Once you’re the boss you wear what you like 🙂

  20. Rustylink1

    deputycgreen Sherbs1 Unfortnatly clothes are used by society &organizations ..a method of confining individuals to enacting a defined role

  21. Rustylink1

    Henrouss deputycgreen Sherbs1 You can almost define nature of organizations by degree of conformity to a ‘dress code’, or length of hair!

  22. deputycgreen

    Rustylink1 Sherbs1 Whilst this article is speaking to a basic truism, is it not also incredibly patronising? 1/2

  23. Rustylink1

    deputycgreen Sherbs1 Agreed. In effect it reflects a very smug &unself critical view of the world. Also exemplified by French elite values

  24. Rustylink1

    deputycgreen Sherbs1 It is, however, difficult to identify UK working class attitudes & values in Gsy.

  25. Sherbs1

    Rustylink1 deputycgreen Agreed but as many of you remind me ‘This isn’t England’ However our working class values are alive and kicking

  26. shmpu4normlhair

    deputycgreen Depressing that access to theatre is “middle-class” – seen a lot of successful actors from w/class bgs bemoaning it recently

  27. DCC_ianthomas

    GillHitchin squarely I don’t understand how one can have such an opinion and want to be deemed credible

  28. SarahEArmitage

    DCC_ianthomas GillHitchin agreed and irrelevant as let’s face it – students can’t afford restaurants anyway!

  29. Rustylink1

    Sherbs1 deputycgreen Alive &kickng in it s worst form in France,but In Gsy the philosophy of UK working class has never really taken hold?

  30. JoNoGo

    SchoolsImprove Born working class, still am, went to a secondary modern but I go to the theatre, can read music and have kids at unis.

  31. Rustylink1

    deputycgreen Sherbs1 Not sure about that. Perhaps nuanced relationships with different categories of individuals and figures of authority

  32. EducateMiss

    SchoolsImprove new game – guess the class status of the advisor that came up with this suggestion.

  33. NigelUtton

    peter_brant OwenJones84 helpful, thank you. The attitude of the paper does not reflect what you said. That is what we need to fight.

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