Results of the recent report, The Social Mobility Barometer, which checks the nation’s attitude towards social mobility in the UK, have revealed that young people are feeling out in the cold. The report from the Social Mobility Commission has divulged that 51% of the 18-24 year olds polled believe that; ‘your background is a determining factor of where you end up in the future’.
The report has illustrated disparities between generations and how they feel about their chances to thrive based on their own personal merit, rather than their postcode or who their parents are. Only 40% of the over 65’s polled believe background is a contributing factor to your final social destination, which is arguably positive when compared with over half of young people who believe the statement to be true. More troubling still, the report finds that only 25% of the 18-24 year olds polled believe that ‘in Britain today everyone has a fair chance to go as far as their talent and their hard work will take them’. This is in stark comparison to the 45% of over 65 year olds who believe this statement to be true.
What has left our most recent generation of schools leavers so disillusioned that only a quarter of them believe that personally gained skill sets will afford them the equal repercussions, such as access to top universities and job opportunities, that common sense would indict they so deserve?
Rather than getting better, the situation seems to be getting worse, or it is at least perceived that way by the next generation. Is it possible, with the political to-ing and fro-ing in recent years, that young people are feeling bitterly neglected with their opportunities are slipping further down the political agenda. The emphasis has appeared to be on seismic political shifts, including the recent Brexit, the general election, and upheaval in political parties. There has been little time for ‘business as usual’ and this report is an indication that the shockwaves are being felt most harshly by the youngest.
At odds with the pattern of political inconsistency and upheaval, Justine Greening has remained as Education Secretary, in spite of her personal difference in opinion to the Prime Minister’s stance on plans for grammar schools. What has she been able to do for education whilst in post? In between periods of down time for snap elections and the looming elephant in the room that is Brexit, the Education Secretary has ensured the compulsory sex and relationship education in PSHE lessons, a welcome move in the sector and a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.
What about readdressing the social imbalances as shown in the report? Ms Greening’s stance on social mobility is positive. In a speech in January this year, she discussed her understanding of the deep entrenchment that lack of social mobility can present in communities, and the challenge faced in changing this view. With the results from this report however, that view is not only permeating through our younger generation, it is growing and multiplying.
A familiar face she may be, but with the Conservatives scrabbling to gain a majority vote, is there capacity to get the job done and concentrate on the issues of shortages, funding and class sizes, all possible contributing factors as to why our latest schools leavers are so disenchanted with their prospects upon leaving education? These have all been addressed by Greening herself, however, the action has yet to come to fruition and the result is the lost generation who truly believe that they are so limited by where they are from.
With little in the way of reassurance that the landscape is going to become calmer any time soon, the buck is lying with those on the front line, who are trying to deliver as broad a curriculum as their tightening budgets allow, to larger classes, with a huge variety of needs.