School and Family

"Families are the best anti-poverty measure ever invented. They are a welfare, education and counselling system all wrapped up into one." These are the words of David Cameron, Britain's Prime Minister, during his speech on life chances.

Cameron's speech highlights the importance of the family in addressing the challenges of poverty. When families fail, the prime minister is quick to point out that the next best thing a society could perhaps use is the school, but it is important that schools understand how poverty dramatically impacts education.

It is worth noting that Cameron cites evidence from research in promoting his agenda. The two points relevant to education are the following:
  1. A knowledge-based curriculum is necessary. Citing the work of educational psychologists, Cameron emphasizes the fact that "the more information is stored in our long term memory the better our processing power – our working memory – can be employed."
  2. Character, especially persistence or 'grit', is important. This likewise is supported by research.
The key theme of Cameron's speech, however, is equity, providing all with equal opportunity:
"To give every child the chance to dream big dreams, and the tools – the character, the knowledge and the confidence, that will let their potential shine brightly."