Privately-educated British Conservative politician says 'rich, thick kids' do better than 'poor, clever children'

He may be a bit thick himself -- as he seems to ignore the importance of home background. Families who pay for their kid's education are probably more involved in it and make sure their kid does the hard yards

'Rich thick kids' end up overtaking 'poor clever children' at school, Michael Gove said yesterday. The Education Secretary complained that success at school is still too closely linked to children's family background. Privately educated Mr Gove said a ' yawning gap' had opened up between the attainment of poorer youngsters and their wealthier peers.

But last night head teachers' leaders protested at the use of the word 'thick' by a cabinet minister. Mick Brookes, of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: 'Thick is not a word that is currently in use in schools. It is demeaning to children.'

Mr Gove cited research showing that wealthy youngsters at the bottom of the ability range pull ahead of brighter but poorer children around the age of six, and the gulf continues to widen as they move through school. His warning came as the Government launched a review of educational under-achievement in England's poorest areas.

Giving evidence to MPs yesterday, Mr Gove said he had been 'very struck' by research by the Institute of Education. 'Children from wealthy backgrounds of low cognitive ability overtake children from poor backgrounds and high cognitive ability before they even arrive at school,' he said. 'So in effect, rich thick kids do better than poor clever children, and when they arrive at school the situation as they go through gets worse.'

The Institute of Education research analysed data relating to 17,000 children born in 1970. Their educational development was tested at 22 months and at intervals during their schooling. Their qualifications at 26 were also checked.

Children from affluent families who were in the bottom 25 per cent of the ability range at 22 months went on to overtake youngsters from the poorest backgrounds who started out in the top 25 per cent. They began to overtake around age six or seven, and the gap widened as they progressed through school.

Mr Gove said the Coalition's school reforms would help close the attainment gap.

Under measures which passed into law this week, state primary and secondary schools will be able to opt out of local authority control and operate as state-funded but independent academies. The policy is intended to boost academic standards by giving schools greater freedom to decide the curriculum, teachers' pay and school year.


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