Poverty and inequality has to be the ‘big one’ in blighting the lives of countless babies, children and young people today. Where is there any sense of Coram’s outrage that in one of the richest countries of the world we have a system that denies hope for the most disadvantaged?
Inequality reigns supreme! Almost 40% of all children progress to higher education, but only 10% of white boys from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are do so. 82% Oxbridge students come from the top two social classes; independent fee-paying schools educate just 7% of students, yet 43% of Oxford and 37% of Cambridge students come from such schools. A quarter of MPs, more than half of print journalists, 82% barristers, 81% judges and 80% Supreme Court judges have been to Oxbridge; 10% of top jobs go to people from just 10 schools. Only 4% doctors come from disadvantaged backgrounds like me.
Why we have such poor outcomes overall for our children has to be the ‘elephant in the room’ question. In my view, there are four reasons:
- Political and public indifference to the importance of children
- National political focus for children being short term, ephemeral, inconsistent and, in the case of some policies, proved untrustworthy.
- Failure of effective political advocacy for children
- Bunkers and silos between Departments of State, sectors, professional groups and organisations.