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Not so middle class, Mr Blair

Do schools fit into the PM's vision of society? Sarah Cassidy and Shaoni Bhattacharya asked them

The new meritocratic middle class includes millions of families who were once considered working class, Tony Blair told a left-wing think-tank last week. Almost half of Britain's families are now classified as middle class, up from one in three when Margaret Thatcher came to power 20 years ago.

But while the statistics back the Prime Minister, this social revolution has passed many schools by. Social polarisation means that many struggling schools now have even fewer middle-class pupils.

An influx of middle-class pupils would have an impact on standards and raise a school's local standing, say headteachers. But this is unlikely as middle-class parents send their children elsewhere.

Many schools serve communities where parents can only aspire to be working class. In families where three generations are out of work, a parent's great hope is that their child will one day find a job.

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