Segregated UK schools 'toxic for poor'
Published: 4th Apr 2012 14:46:30
Schools in the UK are segregated along class lines, creating a "toxic" effect for the poor, a teachers' leaders says.
This was set to worsen as government "austerity policies" pushed more children into poverty, Association of Teachers and Lecturers head Dr Mary Bousted warned.
Teachers alone were not responsible for poor pupils' under achievement.
The government says public spending must be reduced so as not to burden future generations with debt.
Dr Bousted said class remained a key determining factor in educational attainment.
In her closing speech to her association's conference in Manchester, the ATL general secretary described an education system "stratified on class lines".
The effect of unbalanced school intake is toxic for the poorest ”
"We have schools for the elite, schools for the middle class and schools for the working class.
"Too few schools have mixed intakes where children can learn those intangible life skills of aspiration, effort and persistence from one another."
She added: "The effect of unbalanced school intake is toxic for the poorest and most dispossessed."
Dr Bousted hit out at ministers for holding teachers solely responsible for the educational outcomes of the poor.
"If the poor don't make as much progress as the rich, it is the school and the teachers within it who are to blame.
"This, you and I know, is a nonsense. It is a lie which conveniently enables ministers to evade responsibility for the effects of their policies."
And she accused Education Secretary Michael Gove and the head of the school watchdog Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, of washing their hands of the causes of educational failure.
Teachers were straining "every sinew", she said, to raise aspiration and achievement, but struggled against the effects of poverty, ill health and deprivation.
She called on society to look at the effects of poverty on educational performance, saying: "These effects are real, they are present and they are dangerous."
Instead the coalition government was neglecting young people, with an increase of 110,000 pupils claiming free school meals and predictions of 200,000 more children set to fall below the poverty line, she said.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Segregated UK schools 'toxic for poor' . [Online] (Updated 04 Apr 2012)
Available at: http://www.manchesterwired.co.uk/news.php/1420657-Segregated-UK-schools-toxic-for-poor [Accessed 13th June 2013]
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