Poorer white pupils neglected and betrayed say MPs

A damning report by MPs has revealed that White working class pupils have been failed by decades of neglect in England's education system.

The report, published by the Commons Education Committee last night, found that white working-class pupils are one of the worst-achieving groups in the country, and "feel anything but privileged".

The Committee says poorer white children underachieve and have been "let down and neglected".

It says use of the term "white privilege", suggesting white pupils are at an advantage, is the "opposite" of the reality for poor white pupils.

The committee's chairman, Robert Halfon, accuses the government of "muddled thinking" in failing to target support at disadvantaged white pupils - who underachieve from early years through to GCSEs, A-levels and university entry.

Poorer white pupils are falling behind "every step of the way", he warned.

Mr Halfon described it as a "major social injustice" and a "scandal" that so little attention had been paid to how white pupils on free school meals underachieved compared with free school meals pupils from most other ethnic groups.

"If you think it's about poverty, then it doesn't explain why most other ethnic groups do much better," he said.

  • At GCSE, in 2019, 18% of white British pupils on free meals achieved grade 4 in English and maths, compared with 23% for the average for pupils on free meals
  • For university entry, 16% of white British pupils on free meals get places, compared with 59% of black African pupils on free meals, 59% of Bangladeshi pupils on free meals and 32% of black Caribbean pupils on free meals.

The committee warned the scale of the problem, affecting almost a million young white people, could not be "swept under the carpet".

Mr Halfon warned the use of the term "white privilege" in education was divisive and likely to "promote disharmony".

The committee described "white privilege" as the idea of "societal privilege that benefits white people over other ethnic groups" - and said "privilege is the very opposite to what disadvantaged white children" experience.

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