Disenchanted and Disaffected

Intelligence quotient, Primary education, Secondary modern school

Disenchant“to break the spell; to free from illusion or false belief” Disaffect“to cause to lose affection or loyalty; to make distant, hostile, or unsympathetic” (Concise Oxford Dictionary, anwers.com)

Over recent years the apparent poor academic performance of working class children, and especially of white working class boys, has become a “hot topic” in the media. Newspapers of various political persuasions have become concerned by the low rates of academic success achieved by this cohort. In the past, working-class children were often encouraged to leave school at the earliest opportunity so that they could begin to earn a wage. Many boys would follow their father into a job or trade. It was perfectly feasible to walk out of school with no qualifications, and walk straight into a job. Modern society requires people to be better qualified, and the jobs that are available are different – call centre work is probably the modern equivalent of factory work, but requires a specific skill set that factory work did not. The workplace has changed, and continues to change. In 1984, 8% of the workforce were engaged in professional work. By 2004, this figure had risen to 12%, and by 2020 is expected to reach 14%. Likewise, “personal services” employed 4% of the workforce in 1984 and is expected to account for 9% by 2020. Meanwhile, the percentage of the workforce employed in skilled trades fell from 16% in 1984 to 11% in 2004, and “elementary occupations” fell from 16% to 8% over the same period. (HM Treasury, 2005) As the workplace changes, and the number of jobs open to unskilled 16 year olds declines, education and the acquisition of qualifications becomes of increasing importance to a group for whom education is sometimes viewed as an imposition. Estimates of the percentage of 16 – 24 year olds not in education, employment or training (NEETs) range from 6% to 18% of the age group (Abrams, 2010 & Shepherd, 2009). It is likely that a...
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