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The success paradoxWhy we need a holistic theory of social mobility$
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Graeme Atherton

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781447316336

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447316336.001.0001

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Going beyond attainment

Going beyond attainment

(p.65) Four Going beyond attainment
The success paradox

Graeme Atherton

Policy Press

This chapter looks at how the idea of success in the education system in England is arrived at, and what may need to be done to try and adapt this idea so that social mobility can be defined differently. It examines the interaction between the three essential parts of the system: what is taught explicitly in the curriculum, what is taught implicitly through schooling and what happens in the home. The chapter concentrates on how these three elements manifest themselves in the 2010s in the context of social mobility debates. Where the curriculum is concerned this is via the debate around the classical curriculum vs 21st century skills. In the nature of schooling the rise of character as a defining feature of educational success is examined. Finally, there is the increasing importance placed on the early years and the role of parenting in shaping what happens over the life­course. The chapter argues that it is crucial to make every effort to increase educational attainment in particular for young people from lower socio­economic groups. However, the unquestioning pursuit of higher attainment may not be the best way of preparing young people to progress in their lives in the 21st century.

Keywords:   skills, classical curriculum, parenting

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