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Start early for social mobility

By Advertiser Reporter

I READ with great sadness your report on the new YMCA activity village (Just the Start... Advertiser, September 13) particularly the comments on the social deprivation and poor education of large sections of the community.

The fact that the town is near the bottom of a list on social mobility must be shocking to someone, like me, who grew up in Newark in the 1930s and 1940s.

I no longer live in Newark, but grew up in what is now called the Devon Ward, where there were many families suffering financial hardship.

Nevertheless, there was pride in our community and we received an excellent education, which fostered ambition.

Not one pupil left our primary school illiterate or innumerate. We respected our schools and our teachers; there was discipline in the classroom, and most of us went on to further education and worthwhile professions.

I suppose this is what is now called social mobility. We just called it bettering ourselves.

Although the new YMCA Community Village is a worthy enterprise, it still does not address the problem of poor education.

Offering educational skills at the centre is commendable, but is a bit like closing the stable door when the horse has bolted.

The problem surely lies in the failure to reach deprived children in the many years they spend in school.

What are the primary schools doing to prepare pupils in both academic and social skills that will give them the grounding they need before entering secondary education?

What are the comprehensives doing to encourage self-worth and ambition?

My generation endured the war, had no state benefits and took pride in our beloved town.

I do hope someone will reassure me that things are not as bad as they seem ­— Sheila Williams, Sunningdale, Berkshire.

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