UK

Teaching pupils about their ‘white privilege’ could be against the law, MPs’ report says

Betrayal of white working class kids: MPs blast ‘major social injustice’ that has seen generations of ‘forgotten’ children ‘neglected’ by teachers using ‘divisive concepts’ like ‘white privilege’

  • White working-class pupils are one of the worst-achieving groups in the country 
  • Report done by MPs found that those students ‘feel anything but privileged’  
  • It found they are behind many peers of other ethnicities aged five, 16 and 18  

Schools that teach ‘white privilege’ could be breaking the law by contributing to the ‘systemic neglect’ of deprived children, MPs have found.

White working-class pupils are one of the worst-achieving groups in the country, and ‘feel anything but privileged’, they said in a report.

It found they are behind many of their similarly disadvantaged peers of other ethnicities at ages five, 16 and 18.

The Commons education committee’s report, published last night, said ‘politically controversial’ phrases such as ‘white privilege’ may have contributed to poor white pupils being forgotten ‘for decades’.

White working-class pupils are one of the worst-achieving groups in the country, and ‘feel anything but privileged’, MPs said in a report

It also warned against ‘pitting different groups against each other’ and suggested schools which promote ideas of ‘white privilege’ could be in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

The phrase white privilege is used to describe the inherent advantages possessed by a white person on the basis of their race. It can apply where people are living under the same social, political or economic circumstances, or in a society where there is racial inequality. Committee chairman Robert Halfon said: ‘So far, the Department for Education (DfE) has been reluctant to recognise the specific challenges faced by the white working class, let alone do anything to tackle this chronic social injustice. This must stop now…

‘We also desperately need to move away from dealing with racial disparity by using divisive concepts like white privilege that pit one group against another.

‘Disadvantaged white children feel anything but privileged when it comes to education.

‘Privilege is the very opposite to what disadvantaged white children enjoy or benefit from in an education system which is now leaving far too many behind.’

The Commons education committee’s report, published last night, said ‘politically controversial’ phrases such as ‘white privilege’ may have contributed to poor white pupils being forgotten ‘for decades’

Disadvantaged white pupils have been badly let down by ‘muddled’ policy thinking, the report said. It found that among five-year-olds, only 53 per cent of poor white British pupils meet the expected standard of development, one of the lowest percentages for any disadvantaged ethnic group.

At GCSE, just 17.7 per cent of poor white British pupils achieve grade 5 or above – the equivalent of a C – in English and maths, compared with 22.5 per cent of poor pupils from all ethnicities.

And the proportion of poor white British pupils going to university is 16 per cent, the lowest of any ethnic group other than travellers.

The inquiry authors defined ‘poor pupils’ as those who were eligible for free school meals.

The MPs said they were not convinced by the DfE’s claim that the gap in attainment can be attributed to poverty alone. Other factors include poor parental experience of education and multi- generational disadvantage. Tory MP Mr Halfon added: ‘For decades now white working-class pupils have been let down and neglected by an education system that condemns them to falling behind their peers every step of the way.

‘There has been muddled thinking from all governments and a lack of attention and care to help these disadvantaged white pupils in towns across our country.’

He called on ministers to stop ‘sweeping the problem under the carpet’ and find ways of closing the attainment gap. The DfE has been contacted for comment.

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