In the latest plans of the Conservative Government, as covered by Huff Post UK Students, is the idea to send congratulatory letters to students from poor backgrounds who have achieved particularly highly in their GCSEs.
In what has been labelled as a step to encourage those from poorer backgrounds to attempt to attain places at highly ranked universities; it seems to me that the Conservative Government are effectively saying congratulations for achieving something that has been made considerably easier for the wealthy.
It has to be noted that during the Governments tenure, many policies have seemed to only antagonise the next generation of potential voters, particularly those from lower middle class, and working class backgrounds. The action in question however, takes a step beyond antagonising, but into what has been viewed by some as degrading and condescending behaviour, and this is certainly a view I share.
The problem that the Government has found itself in at the moment, is a deep internal conflict regarding whether or not students should be going on to University, or taking apprenticeships, with David Cameron heralding them and speaking openly about his desire for them to become the "norm". Despite this, the universities minister David Willetts has proposed this letter, which smacks of not only contradiction with what has been previously stated by David Cameron, but also a strong sense of patronisation.
This proposed letter clearly seeks to draw a division between the poor and the rich, almost as if the Government were saying that the poor need extra encouragement, because they are poor. This whole ordeal begs the question, how are the views of the youth and the way they want to be treated meant to be portrayed in a beneficial way, when the Government in power is so out of touch with the youth that the next thing you know they will be introducing "Well Done!" badges and stickers, maybe even a t-shirt if you do really well! At the end of the day, a good grade is a good grade. I am under no illusion that for some it is a much greater achievement than for others. Admittedly, this tends to be poorer students owing not to a difference in intellect, but to difference in financial availability, if the Government really wants to do something, as we are "all in it together" as Mr Cameron has often stated, then a little financial support would not come amiss. This would be considerably more appreciated than a congratulatory letter; after all fine words butter no parsnips. These people still have dignity, they still have aspirations and a letter like this would be more of a negative than a positive, a put down to go along with the happiness of achieving high grades. They might not be handed out in public, but I know if that had been me receiving the letter two years ago, I would have been humiliated beyond imagination. Struggling to make ends meet is a hard enough burden to bear without having to stomach the nauseating condescension and patronising tone of this Government.
Many will argue the benefits of these letters, but all it requires is a bit of imagination and empathy for one to realise that seeing someone from a poor background achieve good grades is an excellent achievement as it is, it doesn't need to be acknowledged for it to be an achievement worth noting. This appears to me yet another example of the Conservative party being unable to relate to the poor, and unable to relate to the youth, which is leading to so many of these impractical decisions and unworkable policies.