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Russell Hobby

Knocking on the glass floor

Schools do a great deal for mobility but need support, says NAHT

Posted by Stephanie Broad | August 05, 2015 | People, policy, politics

NAHT has responded to the findings of a report by the London School of Economics for the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, which has exposed a ‘glass floor’ in British society that protects less able, better-off children from falling down the social ladder as they become adults. 

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “The findings of the report are concerning. Schools work hard to create chances for pupils from all backgrounds but they often face an uphill struggle against poverty and lack of social capital. Recent reports from the National Audit Office suggest the gap in attainment between advantaged and disadvantaged pupils is gradually narrowing, but academic attainment is only a factor in later success. 

“Innovative schemes like Primary Futures, that brings speakers into schools to encourage children to aspire to career choices they may not otherwise have considered, and the Brilliant Club, that works to widen access to top universities for outstanding pupils from non-selective state schools, are creative ways of helping. 

“PSHE is another important area where children from all backgrounds can develop the ‘softer’ skills that can make all the difference and should, we believe, be made a statutory part of the curriculum. 

“But we cannot ignore family income, which shapes or limits opportunities. NAHT’s recent survey of its members showed that state primary and secondary schools are already intervening where they see families struggling to make ends meet. The cost of this intervention was estimated at £43.5 million this year. Children struggle to reach their full potential when they are hungry or the situation at home is not conducive to study, and recent cuts can only make this worse. ”    

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