Political philosopher John Rawls proposed a simple test of whether we have achieved a fair society: if we put ourselves behind what he called the "veil of ignorance", imagining ourselves as a rational being before our own birth, would we feel safe to be born into an unknown context?
Unfortunately, as education secretary Justine Greening pointed out in her foreword to her plan to boost social mobility through education, “where you start still all too often determines where you finish”. Even after years of admirably intense focus on disadvantaged students, the attainment gap is still not closing. schools serving poor communities still perform poorly and privilege still trumps merit.
FE as an afterthought
Sadly, FE remains an afterthought in this plan. The effect of early years on disadvantaged children is rightly highlighted and a priority for intervention, but unfortunately there will always be schools that don’t deliver and obstacles for individuals that mean FE is the social mobility emergency service. Greening’s plan offers us no new funding.