The GCSE results are out, and the consequences are being assessed. The data and initial studies show that not much has changed.

The scores have been manipulated down to pre-pandemic levels to counteract the recent awards based on teacher assessments.

Nationally the gap between the better and worse results still varies according to region, locality, better off and poorer families, and of course private school pupils, who do of course, outstrip other pupils.

We hear a lot about the successes. As for the rest? Lost in the shadows of expectations, and under-achievement?

So in terms of achievement and measurable success, origins still dictate post exams destinations.

A recent research report by the Sutton Trust highlights the variation in pandemic period support amongst children as being a significant factor in how children coped with not being ‘in school’.

All this ‘hand-wringing and head-shaking’ about the lack of equality of opportunity for children reminds me of the outcomes from the Plowden Report of 1967; yes 1967!

Let me explain why. By the mid-1960s the hopes for the post 1944/45 selective schooling system reforms were fading.

The achievement gaps between children from middle class homes and working class ones continued, and government and educationalists were concerned about transitions between primary and secondary schooling.

Should there be ‘Comprehensive’ secondary schools for all 11 year olds? Certainly fingers were pointed at some families for not being able to adequately ‘prepare’ their children to thrive in the new, quite middle class, system.

To paraphrase Plowden, too many children from poorer families were, at primary school age, caught up in a ‘seamless web of circumstances’ that hindered their development educationally.

In response government offered ‘compensatory education’ that provided extra support to some schools; but as a leading expert of time, Basil Bernstein, argued that ‘education cannot compensate for society’; tinkering around the edges of the disparity in children’s chances in schooling makes little difference.

This pattern of promises and ‘reforms’ has continued, with different politicians from different parties promising ‘jam for tomorrow’. Lots of promises, but little progress; promises are like ‘pie crust’ they exist to be broken!

In 2002/3 the Blair government initiated further widespread reforming policy with ‘Every Child Matters’ to shake up schooling and social care provision for children and young people up to 19.

A corner stone of this policy was to ensure that every child regardless of their personal circumstances or background should have support.

After twenty years it is quite clear that this is yet another myth, the outcome from this well-meaning strategy demonstrates that some child and young people matter a great deal less than others.

A further aspect of these cumulative failures from the 1970s has been the persistent centralisation of education policy and practice, concentrating power even more in Westminster and away from locally based Education Authorities (LEAs).

The rot started in the dying days of Callaghan’s Labour government, and continued with great enthusiasm with Thatcher after 1976.

Influence and control over the curriculum passed to government, with for example the National Curriculum narrowing the offer in schools, and setting a continuing trend to exclude or downplay art, music and social sciences. School sports fields were sold off.

The other major change continued by the Blair government after 1997 was to increase the privatisation of ‘state’ schools through the creation of ‘academies’ or spurious niche ‘free’ schools, and religion led institutions.

More and more policy-making, day-to-day control, and accountability over schooling has passed out of the hands of locally elected people.

The private sector of education has simply carried on as before, providing high quality provision for those families who can afford it on the basis of maintaining their privileges, and keeping them at the front of the educational opportunities queue.

Of course all teachers work hard to provide the best for their pupils, and should celebrate achievement, but the consistent underfunding in the ‘state’ system hampers and frustrates.