Britain’s New Underclass – Hiding in plain sight | The Economist

This is a powerful, must-read article from the Economist. Check it out!

via Britain’s New Underclass – Hiding in plain sight | The Economist.

Once again, the major road-block is that Britain’s education system is failing to deliver.

If you look at the national cost of education, it continues to rise but the quality of output, measured based on international benchmarking shows a deteriorating trend.

This blog regularly argues that the supply model of British education needs a radical overhaul.

Any thoughts on policy options to improve the quality of output from education?

One response

  1. Dr Alf brings us an excellent article from the Economist, dealing with Britain’s “New Underclass Hiding in Plain Sight”.

    They are hidden in the sense that many such people live in estates and eat and drink in places where most of us would not want to go, consort with people we would not want to meet, that we would not want our loved ones to meet, and with whom we have little or nothing in common.

    Some are Housing Benefit recipients, living in areas which they would not be able to afford if they were working in a normal job that they were capable of doing.

    A trip to Letchworth, Hertfordshire, which is 2.5 miles from where I live, can pinpoint some of these people, guzzling beer and smoking cigarettes, outside a downmarket pub called the “Three Magnets”, particularly on days when it is sunny and they have received their benefits. Late at night, the local fish and chip shops have snaking queues of such people, including grossly overweight single mothers, and elderly social class C1, C2, D and E pensioners, wearing their customary uniform of grey crepe soled shoes, white trousers, a cheap shirt that has seen better days and a battered mobility-scooter, taking up most of the pavement. The offspring of the grossly overweight mothers rush about hither and thither, throwing sweet wrappers everywhere, wearing cheap football shirts, reversed baseball caps and jeans worn so low that their underpants and rather too much of their bottoms are showing. From their grunts, feral appearance, and speech you can see in an instant that a glittering career in the City, the law, the professions, medicine or business is not going to be the lot of these youngsters but a life of shuffling up and down at the local Jobcentre, and being shouted at, with the words “Done any work”? and “Next!”, interspersed with petty crime and work in the black economy, is going to be the future for most of them.

    I have met a lot of these people during the course of an interim assignment to discover whether a salesforce of 3000 people and the layered management structure above it should be kept by a particular insurer which has to remain nameless, or whether it should have gone into closed operation and runoff.

    To undertake the assignment I wanted to see how people were managed and trained and what was actually happening on the ground.

    So I effectively went “undercover” and during the day and for several months of nights, I became a life assurance agent, selling to this hidden underclass, who many of the managers of that firm used to call “scummers” or “scum” for short.

    The present UK state school system is churning out more people who will become like those people because trendy heads and local authority education apparachiks have already written them off and fail to discipline them at school, whilst they are being similarly failed by inadequate parenting at home.

    The system is beyond reform and must be replaced with a composite system embodying Chinese and Singaporean teaching methods a longer schoolday, whole class teaching, Saturday schools for slow-learners, and military style discipline in boarding schools run by the Army for the worst behaved.

    As a child, I used to dislike my father insisting that 7 days a week, I had to be up and about by 7.30 am, and doing things to earn pocket money without recourse to him. All these years later, I understand and appreciate the logic of what he did, which was his way of not featherbedding or mollycoddling us in a competitive world.

    Today, the combination of “everyone must win prizes”, “learning must be fun” and lack of discipline is corrosive to the mind and spirit and turns people who might have a chance of self-improvement into mindless blockheads sadly adicted to drugs and poor quality food.

    Whilst I appreciate that not everybody might agree with me, I challenge you to ‘go undercover’ and produce your own evidence. Sadly, I fear that the political clear are many times removed from the raw evidence – it is they who are responsible for the underclass, not so much the unfortunates themselves.

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