Education’s three banned words . . . religion, selection and family.
Trevor Phillips, the former head of the Commission for Racial Equality and its successor body, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, draws attention to the ‘open secret’ among middle-class Londoners who can’t afford private-school fees. They are seeking state schools with a high proportion of children from a Chinese or Indian background because, educationally, ‘the immigrants have finally overtaken the natives’ (Sunday Telegraph, January 28, 2018).
Although on the Left of politics, Mr Phillips is an advocate of free speech and warns that the ‘multiculturalism’ of the hard Left leads to segregation, but he failed to mention the concerted efforts of Left and Right to consign British culture to the dustbin of history as an embarrassing reminder of less enlightened times. Immigrants are fortunate to have a culture of their own to sustain them, since they are expected to integrate into a cultural vacuum.
He also failed to mention religion as an influential factor in raising educational standards; Church of England and Catholic schools, targeted by the humanist lobby for their ‘divisiveness’, outperform their state equivalents in inner-city areas, precisely because – with Mr Phillips – they do not ‘believe in the biological superiority of some races’. Moreover, they also value the family, an idea Mr Phillips mentions only in the context of noting ‘the effort and discipline so characteristic of migrant families’, including his own.
Governments of Left and Right seek to pander to the politically-correct disdain of marriage, despite the fact that it is still the best social setting in which to bring up children. Significantly, same-sex marriage, which progressive politicians of all parties adore, by its nature is forced to rely on acquiring children with someone else’s help and intervention, not to mention lots of money. More boringly, poor couples tend to ‘grow their own’, but Mr Phillips’s CRE was subsumed by the EHRC, which included ‘sexuality’ in its remit, illustrating the fact that among political progressives ‘gay is the new black’.
Despite this, Mr Phillips concludes that the lower educational achievements of white working-class pupils ‘carry a message for the white majority’ – that ‘we should be trying harder to understand the cultural behaviours that fuel Chinese and Indian success’, claiming that there has never been any substantive effort by government to do so because ministers ‘fear being accused of racism’. And yet this fear has prompted governments to imply that everyone but themselves is racist; initiatives such as the equality groups Mr Phillips used to lead suggest that governments can only do so much to combat racism when the native population is the problem. He seems to have taken this message on board, because he says that differing educational outcomes should be investigated ‘unless you believe in the biological superiority of some races’.
They may not be racists, but our governing elites do believe in the superiority of their own narrow social class, which can be maintained only by ‘showing’ that poorer classes are doomed to educational failure. While they themselves, exercising the privileges of wealth, use private education, they abolished grammar schools, which demonstrate that with the right encouragement and help poorer children can pass exams. They are now trying to restrict Christian schools, alleging that they transmit ‘extremist’ views, and although the Conservative manifesto promised to remove the Coalition ‘cap’ on Catholic schools taking Catholic pupils, they are still dragging their feet.
Mr Phillips, the youngest of a large, poor immigrant family, was educated in a London grammar school but also the strict learning environment of his parents’ country of origin, British Guiana, where Christianity plays a prominent role in the culture; typical of the New Labour approach, he educated his own children privately. He of all people should know why poor white children are no longer performing so well in education, and it is not just lack of money. It concerns three things that have become unsayable in government circles: religion, selection, and the family. In fact ‘family’ has become the ‘f-word’ in government circles, but it is the foundation of society and the cradle of all learning; if only politicians could learn these obvious facts, all children, whatever their background, would do better at school.