Education has conventionally been given a central role in understanding mobility, but qualifications are only a necessary but not sufficient requirement, and connecting the two is not straightforward. The schooling system is very complex and has changed; many desirable jobs require non-academic characteristics. Two alternative models are contrasted: the more common sociological one which Saunders has called the SAD thesis based on social advantage and disadvantage, and the DIM thesis which sees mobility outcomes as being due to individual merit. Evidence, of later school under-achievement among initially high achieving children from disadvantaged homes, supports SAD. Problems of defining intelligence, ability and merit weaken the DIM thesis. We do not live in a meritocracy where, as demonstrated, selective secondary education, private schools and extensive home tutoring favour those from advantaged backgrounds. A false meritocracy which excessively demonises the less academically successful is undesirable.
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