While personal stories contain a depth of detail that cannot be collected on a grand scale, statistical evidence provides the background against which exceptional cases can be seen in wider perspective. BBC2’s ‘Generation Gifted’ documentary series is following six teenagers, selected at age 13 as having exceptional promise despite exceptionally difficult home backgrounds. The intention is to follow them until they are at least 16 and take their GCSEs.
The series not only shines a spotlight on the obstacles to social mobility, but it also helps illustrate a reason for having large-scale longitudinal studies, such as those within the CLOSER consortium. These have been a major source of evidence on the inequality of life chances between children born to rich and poor parents. They put numbers to the extent of social mobility (more…)