I had been planning to write a blog piece challenging the socialist assumption (espoused also by our Lib-Dem coalition partners like Clegg and Cable) that all children are created equal, and therefore that any bias in the university admission system in favour of the sharp-elbowed middle classes was prima facie evidence of “unfairness”. But sadly, Jeff Randall of the Telegraph got there first, and has written an excellent analysis of the problem: http://is.gd/eu8fx .
For me, his key paragraph is: Good parenting can overcome class barriers, but there is another ingredient that matters even more, one which very few politicians are willing to acknowledge: IQ. According to Professor Saunders: “Half of the explained variance in the occupational destinations achieved by the 1958 birth cohort was due to just one variable – how well they scored on an IQ test when they were aged 11. This is a much better predictor of their eventual fate than class… school… or any other social factor.”
Two basic facts of life: First, on the whole, people with higher IQs tend to do better in life, are more likely to get into professional jobs, and to earn above-average incomes. They will therefore tend to gravitate towards the middle classes. And conversely those with a lower IQ will generally (not always) do less well and tend to gravitate to lower-paid occupations and to what we used to call the working classes.
Second fact: High-IQ parents will tend (usually not always) to have brighter kids, who will gravitate to university, while lower-IQ parents will tend to have lower-IQ kids, who are less likely to be university material. This is called “heredity”.
Therefore the perceived “Middle Class Bias” in university entry is not evidence of “unfairness”, but rather a simple recognition of the real world.
Now before I find myself featured in the diary columns of the Guardian or Private Eye (again!), let me be clear about what I am not saying. I am not saying that all poor people are thick. I am not saying that all upper-class toffs are brilliant. I am merely saying that broadly speaking, on a statistical basis, most often bright people gravitate upwards and less bright people don’t. Frankly, the fact that I feel the need to justify and explain such a straightforward and obvious observation is a sad comment on the socialist-egalitarian assumptions of much of our media.
Memo to Clegg and Cable: University entry should be based on ability and aptitude, not on a misplaced conception of fairness, not on social engineering aspirations, and still less on whether the applicant went to a state school or not.
And what, you may ask, of the bright kid from a poor background, who may be raised in a home with few books and perhaps no ethos of effort, achievement and success? We used to have a route out of deprivation and poverty for such children. It was called the Grammar School. But unfortunately the Conservative leadership has set its face against selective education, so we have kicked the ladder away.
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