Making dreams come true for all

SCHOOL VISIT: John Hayes makes a presentation to students at The Deeping School in Deeping St James. (SG130712-120NG)
SCHOOL VISIT: John Hayes makes a presentation to students at The Deeping School in Deeping St James. (SG130712-120NG)
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South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes writes for

As I said in my column last week, classic situation comedies have much to tell us about our society and the way it has changed.

Take the Likely Lads, another gem from the golden age of television. In the first series, made in the 1960s, the two central characters, Bob and Terry, were young working class men employed together in a factory.

But when the series was revived ten years later everything had changed. Bob had moved up the class ladder, acquiring an office job and a new executive home in the suburbs.

The journey Bob made from blue to white collar, from council house to home ownership was familiar for those, like me, who came of age in the first few decades after the war.

I want others to have the opportunities that I had on my own journey from a council estate to Parliament, then Downing Street.

The reality that in the last 20 years social mobility has declined should be lamented by politicians of all colours.

Shockingly, the Sutton Trust charity has found that people born in 1970 were less likely to have moved between social classes than those born in the year of my birth, 1958.

In the space of just 12 years, a child born into poverty would be less – not more – likely to escape the circumstances of their birth. Within a generation, opportunity had become restricted, horizons narrowed.

It is equally dispiriting that a follow-up study found that after years of expensive state programmes, social mobility remained as low for the those born in 1985 as it was for those born back in 1970.

Since the great nineteenth century Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli pronounced that it was on ‘the education of the people that the fate of this country depends’, true social reformers have understood that unleashing potential is the key to social mobility.

That’s why it’s so important to place an emphasis on a rigorously taught, traditional school curriculum; why we must continue to expand the number of apprenticeships, supported by first class careers advice; and why I support both our excellent grammar schools in Spalding, the academy programme – so beneficial locally – and all our primary and secondary schools striving for excellence.

Education at the heart of social reform means that ambitions can be fulfilled, potential realised and dreams come true.