What would you do for your children?
It’s a big question, and for some reading this, seemingly pointless as you may have no kids.
But as you were a child once you’ll be able to compare your parent’s behaviour with some of the examples I’ll highlight below.
As a parent you know yourself just how far you’d go for your offspring.
Whether it’s teaching manners, a love of reading, how to make them confident and happy all the way to those moments when you wake up in the middle of the night and you creep into their bedroom because you think you heard them whine or cry out.
Inevitably, they are sleeping soundly and it’s something deeper in your psyche, but that’s for another day.
The reason I ask is that a recent report spelled out the existence of a ‘glass floor’ for middle class children.
We all know of the glass ceiling where just because you can’t see it, it’s not there - especially in the world of work.
But the new report by the Government’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission highlights how middle class parents hoard the best opportunities for their offspring – and others like them – when, by rights, they should go to more disadvantaged but smarter youngsters.
The report looked at the lives of 17,000 people born in the same week in the UK in 1970 and what became of them after they grew up and made their own way (or not) into the world.
Basically it discovered that social mobility was severely hampered by those in the middle who used contacts and networks to fill spaces with their own kids.
At this point, I should point out that I apportion no blame to those parents at all – they are simply doing the best for their children and, as such, in many ways should be applauded.
But again, it shows Britain as a class-ridden system in which each is acutely conscious of their place in the ‘order of things’.
The report talks of how parents in good jobs and earning good money are able to fund their children into unpaid internships where they can create, develop and maintain connections with ‘people like them’ while people from less affluent backgrounds are unable to even consider working for free.
How well-educated your parents were also has an impact as well as whether you went to a private or grammar school.
The report highlights what is called ‘signalling’ and seems to be picked up in the private school system.
This includes things such as accent, how you present yourself and how you act in social situations.
As a man born and raised in a working class family in a former mining village in Barnsley, I’d venture that I probably score low on that scale.
The report goes on to suggest that there is a link between the class and standing of your grandfather and how successful you’ll be in your own working life.
As I said above, there should be no criticism of middle class parents who do the best for their children – it’s only right and natural that they should.
However we need to look at how society functions and why there is a conveyor belt of kids from (relatively) moneyed backgrounds stepping into the finite pool of top jobs.
It’s not only unfair but also does us as a country no credit; it appears we are consigning ourselves to more of the same when we should be getting new ideas and people who are able to change our professional and political landscape for the better.