There has been much in the media about schools and education recently and Michael Gove the Education secretary has been making the headlines with comments like “Rich thick kids do better than poor clever children when they arrive at school (and) the situation as they go through gets worse.”
The Institute of Education tested children aged 22 months and again at the age of six years. It found that on average toddlers with low ability from the richest homes overtook high achieving children from the poorest backgrounds within a few years. The gap widens throughout school, research has found. By the age of 16, children eligible for free school meals are half as likely to get five decent GCSEs as pupils from wealthier backgrounds.
For the government there are clearly problems here, if you wish to have a society that provides equality and opportunity for all regardless of your background then something is going wrong. However what struck me was the implication that after being tested at 22 months you should be successful at school, because at 22 months you had ability. How exactly do you measure ability at 22 months anyway?
This is not a story about rich verses poor, and how the rich are using their sharp elbows to force their way to the top. This is a story about how anyone, almost regardless of ability can go onto achieve if they try, work hard, have the right environment, are motivated and inspired. The implication is that this message and these qualities are being provided by the parents of the “Thick rich kids” or they are paying for it outside of the traditional classroom.
I sometimes think that trying hard or putting in a lot of work is thought of as not as impressive as being naturally talented. Yes it is great to see someone who has a natural talent, performing to the best of their ability, but show me a top sportsperson who, regardless of talent does not have to work hard and put in hours and hours of practice. If you pass an exam you should be proud of how much effort you put in and how hard you worked. The student who has more ability and fails but is happy, knowing they could have put in more work has much to learn.
So please celebrate hard work and be proud of what you have achieved knowing that you got their by working as hard as you could.