In June 2021, an Education Committee report, ‘The forgotten: How White working-class pupils have been let down, and how to change it’, highlighted how White British pupils eligible for free school meals persistently underperform, compared with peers in other ethnic groups, from early years through to higher education.
So, years of tinkering with our education system by both politicians and teaching unions has resulted in poor white boys consistently being the lowest-achieving group in education.
And yet, how many times have you heard those same politicians promise to ‘lift every child out of poverty’? They know that the best way to ensure good outcomes for children is by supporting the traditional family. Unfortunately, they cannot guarantee every child responsible parents, and many of these educationally under-achieving children will go on to be troubled adults, with high levels of crime, drug dependency and physical and mental illness and all the attendant costs to both the taxpayer and society at large. But these same politicians continue with family un-friendly policies, while the supposed educators are more concerned with filling children’s heads with LGBT ‘alternative lifestyles’ propaganda instead of attending to their educational needs.
The 2021 Committee’s findings of poor white boys underachievement, were not, however, the first, as two earlier studies, in 2009 and 2015, had arrived at the same conclusion.
The 2009 National Union of Teachers report, Opening Locked Doors—Educational Achievement and White Working Class Young People, had suggested that changing labour markets might explain white working-class disengagement in education: “Thirty years ago a fourteen- or fifteen-year-old working-class young person could walk out of school and into a decent working-class job. That is no longer the case”. Educational underachievement is now more damaging to young people due to this change in labour opportunities over time, and this failure can now consign young boys to a life sentence on the ‘forgotten pile’.
And things do not seem to have improved over the next six years, as a 2015 House of Commons Education Committee on Underachievement in Education by White Working Class Children reported:-
‘White working-class underachievement in education is real and persistent. White children who are eligible for free school meals are consistently the lowest performing group in the country, and the difference between their educational performance and that of their less deprived white peers is larger than for any other ethnic group. The gap exists at age five and widens as children get older. This matters, not least because the nature of the labour market in England has changed and the consequences for young people of low educational achievement are now more dramatic than they may have been in the past.’
However, the NASUWT teachers union felt that “In the context of educational achievement, there was a significant risk that focusing on white working-class underachievement might lead to the assumption that racial discrimination was no longer a problem”. Another committee member Professor Gillborn went further: “It would be very dangerous to slip into a situation where we are only looking at one gender and one ethnicity”.’
The Association of School and College Leaders argued that home and family influences on underachievement were particularly significant because young people spent the most of their lives outside of school. Witnesses described factors within this category in terms of aspirations, expectations, access to social capital, parental engagement, time spent doing homework, use of tutors, and parenting skills. The Minister for Education was reported as having similar views: Many of the problems with low attainment in school were felt to be due to factors outside the school gate: parental support, or lack of it; parental aspirations; poverty in the home environment; poor housing; and lack of experience of life. Students spend 18% to 19% of their adolescence in schools. They spend four times as long at home or outside of school as they do in school and this, they claim, has the most significant influence on their aspirations and expectations. Teachers feel they are often blamed for what are parental shortcomings, but that was not an easy fix, whereas throwing money at schools and making them responsible is.
It is easy to demonise the white working classes as having a negative attitude to education when government policy and the welfare system seem to encourage irresponsible behaviour. When children need to be skilled-up to meet the knowledge-based jobs market, many working-class boys are falling seriously behind educationally.
So there we have it. Both politicians and educators have been well aware of the problem for over a decade but do not want to be seen as discriminating in favour of white children, no matter how disadvantaged they are.
In 2019, two top private schools sparked a national race row after rejecting a £1 million scholarship donation intended exclusively for poor white boys.
Dulwich College and Winchester College turned down the gift from philanthropist Sir Bryan Thwaites, 96, fearing it would break equality laws.
Sir Bryan, who had been a scholarship student at both colleges, planned to help disadvantaged, white British boys after studies showed they performed worse academically than almost every other ethnic group.
He aimed to bequeath £400,000 to Dulwich College in south London and £800,000 to Winchester College in Hampshire in his will, in what he hoped would help address ‘the severe national problem of the underperforming white cohort in schools’.
However, Dulwich headmaster, Dr Joe Spencer, rejected the offer saying that the college was “resistant” to donations “made with any ethnic or religious criteria”.
Sir Bryan defended his proposed grant by citing the rapper Stormzy, who had established a Cambridge University scholarship scheme exclusively for black British students earlier that year, with the result that a record number of black students were admitted as undergraduates that year.
“If Cambridge University can accept a much larger donation in support of black students, why cannot I do the same for underprivileged white British?” Sir Bryan argued.
Even former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, joined the debate, blaming a “lethal cocktail of inverted snobbery, racial victimhood and liberal guilt” for the reluctance to help white boys, whom he described as “today’s educational left-behinds”. Writing in the online magazine Standpoint, he said: “On half a dozen occasions over the past five years, I’ve been asked to advise on whether it is acceptable to offer bursaries or scholarships to one minority group or another. They have become so confused in these “woke” times that liberal guilt rewards schools for favouring the black and brown rich whilst neglecting the white poor. Invariably, I have said yes; but donors remain nervous, and beneficiary institutions are routinely discouraged by their lawyers.”
Ex-Labour MP Frank Field, an expert on social issues and welfare reform, dubbed the refusal as racist against white boys and said the gift wouldn’t have been rejected had it been for any other ethnicity.
Sir Bryan, like Stormzy, wanted his money to go to people of his own background: poor but talented white British boys, but worn down by the furore, the 96-year-old was persuaded to donate to state schools, which means it will probably benefit the children of immigrants most.
The 2021 Education Committee report had concluded by urging the government to take steps to ensure disadvantaged white students fulfil their potential.
These ‘steps’ will not be taken any time soon and poor white boys will continue to underperform because whites can never appear as victims and must always be portrayed as oppressors in order to maintain the fiction of White Privilege – even if it this results in sacrificing many working-class children’s futures.