Responding to Alan Milburn’s report on social mobility Sajid Javid, writing in ConservativeHome today, argues that the most important factor is not government but “pushy parents”
As the son of a bus driver and seamstress, Javid praises his working class parents for valuing education and pushing him to succeed. He writes:
“Whilst government has a role in improving social mobility I do, however, believe that parental involvement is the single most important factor. My parents were working class “pushy parents”. They didn’t want me to have the life they had. They knew that the only way to “break the cycle” was to get educated. So they pushed and pushed to make sure I studied at every opportunity.
When the Conservatives come to power next year, as well as improving the state education system, just as importantly, we also need to find ways of encouraging working class parents to be more engaged, involved and interested in their child’s education.”
Javid has surely got a point that parents’ ambitions for their children does make a difference in many cases, but one unanswered question is what specific role can the government play that will change the mentality of parents behind the closed doors of their households.
And surely the most glaring omission of all is that if there are not enough school places now, with all those ‘pushy parents’, how will that improve if many more parents are fighting after fewer places.
Lecturing parents about how to raise their children is destined to go down like a lead balloon, just as the last the ‘back to basics’ moral crusade of the Major years backfired spectacularly in the wake of a series of scandals involving ministers.
Unless right-leaning policy wonks can flesh out exactly how a future Tory government could both influence the behaviour of wayward parents and address the far wider problem of inequality of education, I fear Javid will be sounding like an old fashioned grammar school protege – “if my parents can do it, so can anyone elses’” – a mantra that generates more heat than light on a difficult subject.
Filed under: Family