Let's debunk the 'good school' myth

Alex Macdonald

Your article "The 'good school' myth" (6 April) on the ineffectiveness of schools in overcoming social disadvantage did not identify the real reasons why some socialcultural backgrounds are advantageous. The article simply showed that academic success is associated with household wealth: this is a classic correlational rather than causal relationship.

Children do not achieve because their parents have greater wealth - access to money is simply an intervening variable. In reality, children from wealthier homes benefit from the more stimulating, supportive environments that wealthier parents tend to provide, not from the simple existence of wealth. It is fair to say that money facilitates the creation of such environments, but it does not in itself explain the possession of parenting skills that can be expressed irrespective of social class. Little money is required to talk to children, take them to libraries, watch an educational TV programme with them or take them for a walk in the woods.

The simple, perhaps unpalatable, truth is that lower-class parents often lack the knowledge, skills and willingness to support their children. We should be more demanding of parents and less willing to make excuses for their irresponsibility in having children they are unwilling or unable to support.

Alex Macdonald, Watford, Hertfordshire.

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Alex Macdonald

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