Working Class Children Need To Act Middle Class To Get Into Top Universities, Says Government Adviser

14/08/2014 16:58 | Updated 20 May 2015

Boy (4-5) sitting at dining table, smiling, portrait

Working class kids should act more middle class by going out to see plays and going to restaurants if they want to succeed in life, according to a Government adviser.

They need to change the way they eat, dress and conduct personal relationships to get ahead in life.

Peter Brant, head of policy at the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, said in a blog post that bright children are less likely to apply to top universities because they are worried about 'not fitting in'.

He said that they need to become more comfortable with middle-class social settings such as restaurants, theatres and offices if they want to go to top universities.

He said: "It seems likely that worries about 'not fitting in' will be one reason why highly able children from less well-off backgrounds are less likely to apply to the most selective universities.

"It probably contributes to a lack of confidence amongst those who are upwardly mobile as they struggle to adapt to their new social environment with detrimental impact on their ability to reach their potential.

"And the lack of effective networks and advice to help navigate this new alien 'middle class world' probably make it more difficult to translate high attainment into success in the professional jobs market."

Mr Brant suggested that visiting different places, watching plays and having varied hobbies can help give working class children 'shared cultural experiences' with those from middle-class backgrounds.

He said that young people from working class backgrounds have less 'nuance and casualness' in their relationships with other people. They also wear different clothes, eat different food and visit different restaurants.

He said that these factors should not be ignored because of the government's focus on GCSE results and educational attainment.

He said: "One helpful thing would be more awareness of this as a potential issue - it can often be unappreciated by policy makers who mostly come from middle-class professional backgrounds.

"This often means that debate can all too easily assume that if educational inequalities can be reduced and aspirations of young people from working-class backgrounds raised then that alone will be enough to tackle the problem."

Mr Brant has worked as a senior policy advisor for Nick Clegg and now works at the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.The body acts as an official adviser to the Coalition.

What do you think? Is he right or just patronising?


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