Difficulty in paying for basic essentials, never mind school-related costs such as uniform and transport*, can result in children not attending school regularly, says the charity Buttle UK. Poverty also prevents poor children from studying certain subjects and taking part in out-of-school activities if these could incur extra cost to parents, the charity finds.
Battle UK surveyed 1,200 support workers across the UK and found ‘a worrying picture of the education system as an unequal playing field’.
If children are to benefit from education, they must attend. That’s obvious. If they don’t come to school regularly, they’re likely to underachieve.
Nevertheless, the government expects all schools to ensure that disadvantaged achieve the same results as more advantaged children. It’s called ‘closing the achievement gap’.
The Department for Education’s response to the report was rather half-hearted. That’s not unexpected, perhaps, given current proceedings in Parliament. But even this lack-lustre comment managed to reprieve the false statement about ‘66%’ of schools being good or better in 2010.
Last night, the father of the House Ken Clarke, purged from the party he’s served for decades, accused Boris Johnson of lying:
‘I do think the Prime Minister, with the greatest respect, has a tremendous skill in keeping a straight face while he’s being so disingenuous.’
In this context, it appears a minor quibble to complain about incorrect data being regurgitated by the DfE. But this distortion of data, deception and false information has been pouring from the DfE for years, particularly under the tenure of Michael Gove, who now sits on the PM’s left hand on the front benches.
Today’s Times carries a cartoon showing Jacob Rees-Mogg lolling on the front bench in the languid attitude he adopted two nights ago. Next to him are Sajid Javid, ears enlarged, Boris Johnson, eyes blinded by hair, and Michael Gove, goldfish mouth gulping. They resemble a subversion of the three monkeys who hear, see and speak no evil. The caption is in a speech bubble floating from Rees-Mogg’s mouth:
‘What’s all the fuss about? I’m not the only lying front bencher!’
BREAKING NEWS: Jo Johnson, the PM’s brother, has just resigned his Cabinet post and will not stand again as an MP. The Times reports he is unable to reconcile family loyalty and the national interest. That says it all.
*Children under 16 outside London can receive free transport to their nearest school if their home is over distance from that school. This stops at age 16 and affects all 16-18 year-olds in rural areas. 16 and 17 year-olds living in London receive free transport for all bus/tram journeys, not just to go to school. Younger children can also benefit from free travel in London. John Howson discusses this unfairness here.
NOTES: Roger Titcombe argues that the ‘attainment gap’ is a fallacy. See here.