Fraser Nelson writes at The Spectator:
I often think of the Kinnock speech when I hear someone like Blower saying that poor kids can’t be expected to do so well. These (stunning, sickening) examples of how the poor are systematically failed by our education system really does call for the kind of anger that Kinnock envinced in 1987. It was a conservative, George W Bush, who updated Kinnock’s point for the 21st century. “Some say it is unfair to hold disadvantaged children to rigorous standards,” he said in 13 years ago. ” I say it is discrimination to require anything less–-the soft bigotry of low expectations”.
The bigotry of low expectations is alive today. If someone lives in a decile 1 area, then they are not expected to do well.
This is what separates British left and right now. The left, in its post-Blair phase, no longer very worked up about the poor doing badly at school. (“It may matter or it may not,” Blower said about poor children going to top universities). The standard left response is to talk philosophically about inequality in society, as if this has the slightest bearing on whether the sink schools ought to be tolerated in this day and age.
By contrast, the right are hopping mad about educational inequality. When the subject is raised in front of Michael Gove, it’s like flicking a switch. He blows his top.
Gove is doing an excellent job.
The difference between left and right, now, is that you will seldom hear a left-winger getting Kinnock-style (or Gove-style) angry about educational inequality. The right are so angry about educational inequality that they want to tear up the whole system. Now that Labour takes 80pc of its funds from the union, it seems to be on the side of the system, no longer on the side of those failed by the system. As Iargued in the Telegraph on Friday, the Conservatives can now claim to become the party of the working class.
Our school system is good for most students. But the bottom 20% or tail do worse than most other countries. We need to do what we can to lift their expectations and results.