Class and poverty are key factors;Letter

24th April 1998 at 01:00
So "land, labour and capital are no longer the issues" for Michael Barber (TES, 3 April).

Why, then, is there a crisis of funding in education? Why are many school buildings leaking, dilapidated, unsafe (land, capital)? Why are so many teachers being made redundant (labour)? Why are insufficient new teachers attracted into the profession (labour)? Why can't schools provide each child with a computer to develop effective learning and skills for our technological age (capital)? Why is the New Labour Government looking to the private sector through "partnership" schemes to fund vital educational expenditure (capital)? In his article Barber refers to statistics which clearly show the correlation between deprivation and low achievement. And yet he contradicts himself by telling us that poverty is not the issue. Why does the Government and Michael Barber insist that social class is irrelevant to achievement? Office for Standards in Education reports (Access and Achievement in Urban Education, HMSO 1993, The Teaching of Reading in 45 Inner London Primary Schools, OFSTED 1996) show that poverty affects performance. The Observer's survey confirmed the influence of social factors on school performance.

Class and poverty are key factors in achievement. Land, labour and capital are key factors in the resourcing of education.

To raise educational standards, to raise the opportunities for all our children, the social and economic base to which Marx referred needs to be addressed. If educational success relates to poverty, then poverty needs to be addressed. Effective schooling requires teachers, safe buildings and resourcing. An administration which refuses to admit or understand the forces of land, labour and capital will merely scratch the surface of progress.

Shirley Franklin 5 Hartham Close London N7

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