Non-story of the week

There is an article in today’s Sun Herald on data from the government’s My School website showing that rich kids are much more likely to go to selective schools (ie academically rigorous schools with competitive entry). The article quotes a succession of “educators” suggesting that this is an unexpected result. But why should it be? The last sentence is from Brian Chudleigh of the Public Schools Principals Forum:

In theory, enrolment at a selective school is based on academic merit. Unfortunately, that nexus between socio-economic status and enrolment in selective schools is plain for all to see. …

Children from less fortunate backgrounds, while they may be just as intelligent as children from more affluent homes, struggle to compete right from the word go.

Intelligence isn’t everything when it comes to academic merit. Contributory factors include parents with higher education, the emphasis they place on education, the presence of books in the house, and role models for the benefits of education in the student’s social group. These are all more likely in a more affluent household than one from the lowest socio-economic quintile. The natural and normal result is that having richer parents means a greater opportunity for their children to reach their potential. Having better opportunities is the whole reason people strive to be wealthy in the first place, and we can hardly condemn that most basic impulse of striving to provide for one’s family and their future.

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