According to research published yesterday the UK remains "deeply elitist" with most of our top institutions and organisations headed by small groups of people educated at fee paying schools and Oxbridge.
According to the report published by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission which surveyed more than 4,000 business, political, media and public sector leaders, many of the UK's key institutions do not represent the public they serve. Alan Milburn the Commissioner for Social Mobility and Child Poverty talked about just some of the issues that need to be address to change our culture. Is this really new news or is it sadly something we have been trying to tackle for a long time.
At Laughology we understand that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are far less likely to get good GCSE results. Attainment statistics from the Equity and Quality in Education: Supporting Disadvantaged Students and Schools Spotlight Report published in January 2014 show that in 2013 37.9% of pupils who qualified for free school meals got 5 GCSEs, including English and mathematics at A* to C, compared with 64.6% of pupils who do not qualify. Unpicking the deeply engrained biases and beliefs that impact on ability, hold us back from obtaining jobs and stop institutions from choosing varied candidates is as complex as the solution itself. It needs to be tackled in schools, wider education settings and workplaces with a deeper understanding into how and why we make decisions that impact on who we work with and what can be done to encourage diverse thinking and working practices that unlock the challenges and barriers faces.
The issue is so deep-rooted in society and culture that individuals can unconsciously carry a deeply embedded mind-set that they have less to offer in terms of ability and cannot match others from a more privileged background. We believe it is unacceptable for children's ability, and in turn their success in later life, to be determined by their social circumstances.
A complex range of factors have an impact on social and emotional development. We know from research that children living in disadvantaged families are more likely to be exposed to adverse factors such as parental substance misuse, mental illness, neglect, abuse and domestic violence. Consequently, they are more likely to experience emotional and behavioral problems that can impact on their development and opportunities in life (Farrington et al. 2006; Shonkoff and Phillips 2000). We believe the issues highlighted in the report need to be addressed through education and employment. Children from all backgrounds and from all educational establishments should be encouraged to become confident learners.
Children and young people who grow up in areas of deprivation can be hindered by the belief that they only live by the cards they have been dealt. Their perception of themselves and their opportunities are limited in response to their social environment. They don't believe in their own abilities. The cycle needs to be broken, ability is not the sole preserve of the privileged.
Workplaces need to be aware of this too. Our unconscious bias impacts on who we choose to work with in our teams. Awareness, education and training in this area will only prove profitable in the long term. Diversity in the workforce and in senior teams makes a company more flexible in its thinking and richer in terms of audience understanding and reach. However through years of conditioning and priming, the report proves that even in today's society, workforces are less diverse on every level. A more conscious effort into helping improve this is needed.
To find out more about how we can work with your school and workplace to help tackle this issue take a look at what already do here at Laughology for schools.