1. Parents' background determines life chances
of children, report says
By Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent The Telegraph 12 Jan 2009
A child's chances of succeeding in life are still largely determined by their
parents' income and social standing, according to a commission's new
report. The report paints a damning portrait of Labour's failure to improve
social mobility over the last decade.
In his report, commissioned by the Liberal Democrats, Mr Narey will reveal that just over a third of
pupils eligible for free school meals go on to gain five higher grade GCSEs, compared to slightly less
than two-thirds of those who are ineligible. The proportion of children from poor backgrounds who
go on to graduate from university has risen by just three per cent under Labour compared to a 26
per cent increase among those from wealthier backgrounds.
Mr Narey said: "Despite progress in reducing child poverty and heavy investment in education, a
child's chances of success in Britain today are still largely dependent on the background and earnings
of their parents. Education has been seen as the great leveller but children from poor and
disadvantaged backgrounds all too often end up in the worst schools and achieve the worst results.”
"As we face the challenge of the present economic downturn, there are those who argue that we
cannot afford more investment to give disadvantaged children more equal life-chances. This
commission argues that we can't afford not to. Every political party is claiming that they are the
party to improve social mobility. We now need to see this matched by action which ensures that any
child born in any family in the UK can fulfil its potential."
Measures to promote social mobility will be set out in a report, with ministers identifying limited
access to professions such as the law, medicine, the senior civil service, finance and the upper ranks
of the Armed Forces as a major obstacle. Among the issues they will focus on is the unfair advantage
gained by the children of well-connected middle class parents who are able to arrange work
experience for them, or fund them through unpaid internships.
It emerged last week that Geoff Hoon, the Transport Secretary, paid for his teenage daughter to
undergo coaching sessions to help her prepare for Oxbridge interviews.
Other issues to be considered include financial obstacles to access and progression, the role of work
experience and internships, recruitment practices and what can be done to encourage new
applicants for certain jobs. Mr Milburn said he wanted to ensure that "the best people, regardless of
their backgrounds, have a fair crack of the whip".
1. What does the term social mobility mean?
2. What are the differences in university attendance between the class groups?
3. In what ways do middle class parents help their children?
4. What have the government done to try and aid equality?
5. What issues may get in the way of a child achieving?
6. Give your view on the equality situation and explain your answer.