16th June, 2020

Debate of the Week

As a part of our Personal Development and Life Chances curriculum, the school is moving the debate topics which would normally presented in assemblies to a discussion group which can be used at home. Spend some time as a family debating the issue below.

Is Marcus Rashford an exception or an inspiration?

The Premier League striker grew up poor and hungry, but is now using his fame to fight for children going hungry during the lockdown.

He has it all. In five years of professional football, Marcus Rashford has scored a staggering 74 goals for Manchester United and England. He takes home £200,000 a week, owns a £2m mansion in Cheshire and drives a fleet of flashy cars. He is beloved by fans and touted as a future United captain. And he’s still only 22. He is living the dream.

But Rashford has not forgotten his roots. In a heartfelt letter to members of Parliament, he has written about his childhood in Wythenshawe, relying on breakfast clubs, free school meals, food banks and soup kitchens. He thanks his mum, a single parent, who “worked full-time, earning minimum wage to make sure we always had a good evening meal on the table.” Without her struggle and sacrifice, he says, “there wouldn’t be the Marcus Rashford you see today.”

It’s one of the most popular stories ever told: the tale of rags to riches. The poor kid who finds money and fame. From Cinderellato the X-Factor, from Dick Wittington to Jay Z – it is in our society’s DNA. It appeals to our sense of fairness and justice. It doesn’t matter where you start in life, if you work hard and follow your dreams, you will succeed.

Except, Rashford writes that hard work “was not enough. The system was not built for families like mine to succeed, regardless of how hard my mum worked.” He argues that society is not fair and that the barriers to success are higher for poor families and children from ethnic minorities.

The latest research backs him up. “Persistent racism” and “virtually stagnant” social mobility is preventing millions from achieving their potential. Rashford describes himself as “a 22-year old black man lucky enough to make a career playing a game I love.” But is he the lucky exception or an inspirational role-model?

Of course, he’s a bit of both. But regardless of how he achieved his dreams, many are being inspired by his compassion.As the Covid-19 epidemic hit, his thoughts were of the 1.3m children in England on free school meals.

With schools closed, he raised £20m to provide three million meals. And now he has used his public platform to ask the government to “protect the vulnerable” and help the estimated 200,000 children going hungry in England.

So is Marcus Rashford an exception or an inspiration?


Some say he is an inspiration, in so many ways. No one ever said life was easy and it takes great sacrifices and incredible determination to be successful. His story is remarkable but it shows that, regardless of where you start in life, you should always aim high and dream big. He also shows you should never lose sight of where you came from and who helped you along the way.
Others say his story is exceptional and that should make us as angry as he is. It shows that hard work is never enough, especially if you are born poor and from an ethnic minority. How can you aim for the sky, when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from? As Rashford says, “this is England in 2020,” and it is unacceptable.