Middle class parents use harder GCSEs like Mandarin as a 'signalling device', says Education Secretary

Posted on: 2018-07-31 17:30:00

Damian Hinds said it is not just an “attainment gap” that separates rich and poor students, but also a gulf in expectations and knowledge about the system.  

“For middle class parents there is an awareness that there are harder and easier subjects,” he said. “As parents we encourage their children to do the harder ones - whether that's Maths, History or these days Mandarin - because we know they can be a signalling device to universities and employers.  

“That's what the signalling is about. It says: 'I am a particularly strong candidate'. That goes to anyone who is looking at your CV, whether that's an employer or a university or what have you.”  

Mr Hinds denied that elite universities are “institutionally biased” against disadvantaged children, adding that  they want all segments of society to benefit from what they have to offer.  

He urged universities to step up their efforts to admit a more diverse set of undergraduates, saying that contextual admissions – where students from poor backgrounds are given lower offers - have a role to play in this.

Speaking at the Resolution Foundation in Westminster, he said that students who do not study “core academic subjects” for their GCSEs can negatively affect social mobility.  

He said this is why the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is so important, as it “signals to all families, all students, that these are generally the subjects that will keep your options most open and whatever your future career path”.  

The English Baccalaureate  has been championed by the Government since being established in 2010 by the former education secretary Michael Gove in a bid to reverse the "dumbing down" of GCSEs.

 In order to obtain the award, students must obtain five A*-C - or numeric 4-9 grades - in Maths, English, the sciences, History or Geography, and a language.

Source: The Telegraph

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