Failed White Children

The academic performance of White children, the qualifications they achieve, and the likelihood of them attending university have recently received a great deal of press coverage and attention from government and institutions. Our article reviews this together with statistics on the attainment of different racial groups, within the backdrop of society’s narrative of ‘White privilege’ and ‘systemic racism against non-Whites’.

The findings, while not a surprise, are shocking. The manner is which White children, especially but not exclusively those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are being isolated, stigmatised and discriminated against reveals just how anti-White our society has become.

To help readers put this article into context from the outset, two sets of data are posted below. They demonstrate the disparity between White children and their non-White peers in terms of attainment and higher education. A disparity which is particularly acute for children on free schools meals.

Line graph: Higher education places by ethnicity
Bar Chart: Attainment by ethnicity, gender, free school meals

It’s appreciated that university is not the only option for a successful future, and it can be argued too many students are encouraged down this route. However a look at the ‘ethnic pay gap’ for young White employees tells us something is amiss.

This article draws together information on how the education system and wider society treats White children.

In order to fast track to any particular section of this article, please click on the links below.

Insights by the chair of UK Parliament’s Education Committee

In October 2020 Robert Halfon, Conservative MP and chair of Parliament’s Education Committee, wrote an article for the Yorkshire Post.

The lower attainment of White children, boys and girls, has been known about for over 10 years, during this time a whole series of reviews have been undertaken and recommendations for improvement made. Ten years on Robert Halfon’s words are damning. “For too long, it was regarded as a taboo to talk about white working class. Inexplicably, the criticisms raised have ranged from accusations of racism, promoting general insults to white working-class families, or even sneers at the whole idea this could even be happening.”

Robert Halfon MP goes on to say “…there is the £1bn catch-up fund to help children recover some of their lost learning. Whilst this funding is hugely welcome, will enough be done to ensure it is focused on disadvantaged cohorts, like white working class girls and boys?”

His question is so pertinent. Given the accusations of racism for even investigating this, the society wide message that these children are already ‘privileged’ because they are White and the way White working class are despised by so many, the chance of this money reaching these White children is indeed questionable.

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Education Committee Inquiry: Left behind White pupils

An inquiry by the Education Committee into Left behind white pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds started in October 2020. Among those presenting to the Education Committee investigating the underachievement of White pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds were Professor Diane Reay, Emeritus Professor of Education, University of Cambridge and Professor Matthew Goodwin, Professor of Politics and International Relations.

Videos of their submissions, and those of the other witnesses, can be watched in the Witnesses at the Education Select Committee Inquiry section of this article.

Matthew Goodwin told the committee “White working-class boys, who are among the worst educational performers, are landed with “a status deficit” and made “to feel as though they are not being given as much recognition and esteem as others.”

He added “If you go into these communities and try to tell them that they’re suffering from white privilege – it seems to me a completely nonsensical response to this problem. They are way behind everybody else, they’re falling through the cracks.”

His comments were reported by The Week, who also referred to the ‘anger’ caused by his and Professor Reay’s submissions:

“The two academics’ remarks have been met with anger on social media” says The Week. Among those who reacted in this way was Priyamvada Gopal, Professor in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge. She tweeted “Academics (as it were) who use the term ‘white working classes’ typically only care about the first word. They are not usually known for campaigning on matters of class and economic justice.”

It seems Priyamvada Gopal is denying Whites the right to be regarded as a unique group in a society where race and differences in the treatment of races, is the most important conversation of all, as seen from her Twitter posts in October 2020.

Above: Posts in June 2020
Left: Posts in October 2020

Her October post is in line with views she has previously expressed including “Abolish Whiteness” and “White lives don’t Matter. As White lives.”

What is also noted is that despite her extreme anti-White statements of June 2020, Priyamvada was promoted to full Professorship by Cambridge University later that month. Her comments were defended by the Cambridge Faculty of English under the banner of free speech. The only censure by the faculty was towards the ‘racist language’ of those who objected to her attacks on White identity.

Matthew Goodwin also posted on Twitter “Today, while giving evidence to the Education Select Committee on left behind white kids, I was asked about “white privilege”. I just don’t think these kids – who are the least likely of all to progress – need another reason to feel bad about themselves …”

He also highlighted that “One of the ironies is that what little research we do have suggests that teaching people about white privilege actually reduces empathy for … disadvantaged whites.”

Greater Good Magazine Science-Based Insight for a Meaningful Life. What Happens When You Educate Liberals About White Privilege? May 20, 2109

Greater Good Magazine talks about this research, which was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. The author of the article, Zaid Jilani, writes that the research “suggests that the idea of white privilege may have an unexpected drawback: It can reduce empathy for white people who are struggling with poverty”.

A synopsis of the research is given below. What is bewildering about this article/the research, is that it can come as a surprise to anyone that saying a group has privilege, it has neither earnt nor deserves, can do anything but reduce empathy – and increase resentment and hatred.  

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Ben Bradley MP exposing discrimination against White children

Ben Bradley, MP for Mansfield, proposing a motion on the Equalities Act 2010, on 13th October 2020, in relation to children from disadvantages backgrounds. He talks about how, in law, equal opportunities covers all races including Whites.

Ben Bradley, MP for Mansfield, proposing a motion on the Equalities Act 2010, on 13th October 2020

He goes on to state that this is frequently ignored and White children and adults find themselves being the victims of discrimination. He quotes recent stats from UCAS that shows White boys on free school meals were the least likely to go to university (just 9%). The second lowest group is White girls on free school meals at 14%. Yet Black students get race-specific sponsorship that White children are denied.

Ben Bradley knows White children are discriminated against, as does the government, yet there is no action to stop it, and charities like Barnardo’s are free to continue to push the harmful narrative of ‘White Privilege’.

On July 22nd, 2020 Ben Bradley “raised the plight of one of the most disadvantaged groups in our society” in the House of Commons. “All the data shows that white boys from working class backgrounds have some of the poorest life chances, but it still seems like a bit of an unfashionable cause to fight for these lads.”

Ben Bradley “raised the plight of one of the most disadvantaged groups in our society” July 2020

These are the same lads that throughout our recent history have fought to defend our country, have toiled underground to keep our lights on and have kept our country working throughout the last century. In modern times though, far more needs to be done to make sure that they can get on in education, can aspire to great things and generally are given the tools to take advantage of the opportunities that are out there. I fail to see why the Equalities Act doesn’t recognise socio-economic status or poverty as one of its ‘protected characteristics’, whilst ‘white’ and ‘male’ are often ignored as the Act is so widely misunderstood and misused.”  

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White students and university admissions

UCAS statistics presented by the UK government show White students are the least likely of all racial groups to get a higher education place. This has been the case since 2006, or earlier and the disparity between Whites and others races is increasing.

The data below is for all White students, not just disadvantaged Whites.

The comparatively low White student admission to higher education has been known about, talked about and publicised for years, yet no clear action to increase the number of Whites at university is taken by our government.

Nor does the government do anything to address the continued undermining of White students through the anti-White concepts of ‘White privilege’ ‘White fragility’ ‘unconscious bias’ etc. Concepts that tell White students they must cede everything of value to non-Whites, and non-Whites that White students are not entitled to a voice on race, on racism, on privilege or on bias. More succinctly put – White students are not entitled to a voice.

The debate about whether too many students are encouraged down the university route is a separate debate. White students should not be being deterred from university because of the anti-White culture or because they have been failed by the education system and society. To say it is better that White students do not attend university because of the indoctrination they will be subjected to, is to admitting defeat. We need and deserve White doctors, lawyers, teachers, police, dentists, architects and judges. White children deserve an environment where they can achieve their true potential.

There are number of distinct elements regarding lower university admission among White students as compared to their non-White peers. The first is academic achievement. With the exception of Black students, White boys and White girls have the lowest attainment of all racial groups when compared to peers of the same sex (Table 1). Looking specifically at disadvantaged students (Table 2) White boys attainment falls to the lowest of all racial groups.

Table 1. Gov UK Data
Average Attainment 8 score by ethnicity and gender
Table 2. Gov UK Data
Average Attainment 8 score by ethnicity and gender on free school meals 2017/18

Other barriers were identified in the King College London 2016 Report “The underrepresentation of white working-class boys in higher education”. These included interview technique “White working-class boys were less likely to have access to the forms of cultural capital required at interview and when writing a personal statement – they therefore faced significant barriers during admissions.”; financial barriers including the upfront costs of studying; fear that a university degree was a poor form of investment; unfamiliarity with the realities and benefits of higher education; and negative perceptions of university.

What is not mentioned in their report, or presumably investigated, is the impact of the anti-White culture of universities on either the acceptance decisions by universities nor the willingness of White students to apply.

To demonstrate this anti-White bias let’s look at recommendations recently produced by Universities UK, an organisation representing vice-chancellors. These are designed “for senior leaders to eradicate racial harassment at universities”. They were reported in the Glasgow Times on 24th November 2020.

“White privilege training Institutions should carry out anti-racist training with staff and students to increase their understanding of racial “microaggressions” – which are “subtle, less overt forms of racism” according to Universities UK (UUK).

“Universities should conduct training which incorporates the concepts of white privilege, white fragility, white allyship and microaggressions to highlight everybody’s responsibility for tackling racial harassment” the guidance says.

The message is stark and clear: it’s White people who are bad. It’s non-Whites who need to be protected from these bad White people.

The EHCR report that Universities UK refers to, is based on self-reporting of incidence of ‘racial harassment’. “We invited staff and students from universities in England, Scotland and Wales to tell us about their experiences of racial harassment since the start of the 2015/16 academic year.” Common experiences reported were microaggressions and being ignored.

Posted below is their definition of microaggression. The behaviour itself and the intent is immaterial “whether their behaviour amounts to harassment is likely to depend on the effect it had on the victim”. This ‘evidence’ is enough to damn White students and lecturers, and require them to receive training on “white privilege, white fragility, white allyship and microaggressions“.

It’s noted that Cambridge University does not consider ‘Abolish Whiteness‘ as harassment of White people, it considers it ‘free speech’.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is gopal-3.1.jpg

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Apprenticeships provide an alternative option to university for young people who wish to develop their suitability for work. As Whites are the least likely of all racial groups to get a university place it would be expected that they would more frequently seek to enroll in these on-the-job training programmes. Yet in 2019 the Equality and Human Rights Commission released a report saying “unfair share of trainee places is given to white boys”.

The report goes on the say if candidates are equally suited to apprenticeships the employer should favour the non-White (called the minority group) over the White candidate. Where exactly does that leave these White boys?

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Previous studies on low attainment by working-class White children

White children performing less well in education, and being less likely to attend university, has been talked about and researched for over 10 years. The Spectator lists some of the reports into the ‘low attainment’ of White British pupils.

A brief overview of these reports and their findings are posted below.

1] Warwick University report in 2008

Warwick University concluded that: “White British pupils from low socio-economically classified homes made the least progress over the course of secondary school.”

White working-class teenagers had the lowest expectations of the exam results they would achieve of any ethnic group in contrast to “the high aspirations of their Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black Caribbean and Black African classmates, who out-perform them”. This applied to both White working-class boys and girls.

BBC ‘White working class ‘left behind’
Thursday, 27 March 2008

2] Ofsted Report 2013

The Ofsted Report highlighted that not only were White British pupils the lowest performing ethnic group of pupils eligible for free school meals, but they are also improving at the slowest rate. Their report identified that although White girls from low-income families outperform White boys they both did poorly compared with children from other ethnic groups. The “success of disadvantaged children from a variety of other ethnic backgrounds shows that family income does not have to be a barrier to achievement”. Interestingly they refer to a future survey to research good practice regarding use of funding (pupil premium) to close the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their better-off peers.

3] Parliamentary Hearing in 2014

A Parliamentary Hearing in 2014 reported that White working-class underachievement in education is real and persistent, and the problem is as much about white working-class girls as it is about white working-class boys. They state that White working-class children eligible for free school meals are consistently the lowest performing group in the country, and that the gap exists at age 5 and widens as children get older. Studies are quoted which puts school-level factors as accounting for 14 – 20 per cent of variability in a pupil’s achievement.

4] Sutton Trust 2016

Sutton Trust research highlighted how the academic attainment of disadvantaged pupils at 16 varied dramatically between different ethnic groups. Disadvantaged Chinese pupils performed above the national average for all pupils, while Bangladeshi, Indian, Black African and Pakistani pupils from poorer homes all perform well above the national average for disadvantaged pupils. White working-class pupils achieve the lowest grades at GCSE of any main ethnic group, with just a quarter of boys and a third of girls achieving 5 good GCSEs.

The research alluded to the difference in funding from the state “Some communities also benefited from targeted funds – both from the state and their own voluntary endeavour – to improve their education.”

5] King’s College London report (2016)

King’s College report explored why White working-class boys are underrepresented in higher education and what can be done to tackle the problem. The report responded to the government’s call, in February 2016, for universities to specifically target White working class boys in order to increase their participation in higher education. It’s an interesting report, which considered six main questions:

1 How are ‘white working-class’ boys defined? They concluded Higher Education institutions did not have an agreed definition to work with, neither was it clear whether the target group was all White working-class boys or white British working-class boys. “The latter arguably facing the greatest hurdles to entering higher education”.

2 Why are white working class boys underrepresented in higher education? That White working-class boys were the lowest performing group at the end of compulsory education was identified as only part of the explanation. Barriers to admission also included lower ability to, or help with, writing personal statements and interview technique – “White working class boys were less likely to have access to the forms of cultural capital required at interview and when writing a personal statement – they therefore faced significant barriers during admissions.”

Other barriers were defined as financial, including the upfront costs of studying; fear that a university degree was a poor form of investment; unfamiliarity with the realities and benefits of higher education; and negative perceptions of university particularly as compared to alternative Further Education and Higher Education routes which carry less financial risk.

3 Is the problem more acute in elite institutions? The report highlighted that elite institutions have consistently failed to meet benchmark entry requirements for disadvantaged pupils, but that focusing on the barriers presented at a small handful of institutions would not be the answer to the underrepresentation of White working class boys in higher education.

4 Is there a similar problem in alternative forms of HE? White working-class boys are well represented in Further Education-level apprenticeships but very few use these as a springboard into a Higher Apprenticeship or university-based Higher Education.

5 What are the most effective ways in which widening participation can tackle the problem? King’d college identified: Ensuring parents and carers are informed about all aspects of Higher Education – from the benefits of academic study to the costs and conditions of student living.

Student-to-pupil mentoring programmes should be developed.

Given the appeal but limited scale of work-based learning, universities
should redouble their efforts to communicate the practical and vocational relevance of academic study, and ensure that White working-class boys are aware of the part-time and distance learning routes through which higher education can be completed.

6 What challenges and barriers do they face? King’s College identified the single most significant barrier to tackling the underrepresentation of White working-class boys was the lack of an agreed definition of the target group, backed up by robust data. Developing these was a prerequisite for action.

Early intervention, starting at Primary School was required to ensure White working -class White boys achieve the necessary levels of educational attainment and to assist them to develop a positive perceptions of Higher Education.

Universities need to recognise that the use of interviews and personal statements during the admissions process pose a significant barrier to White working class boys.

King’s College London report (2016) The Underrepresentation of White Working Class Boys in Higher Education – The Role of Widening Participation

The underrepresentation of white working class boys in higher education The role of widening participation

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Statistical data from the UK Government

Note: the data on the government website may differ from the extracts printed below as the information is updated.

Data for six to seven year old boys shows the attainment of White boys (as measured by meeting the expected standard) in math’s and reading was equivalent to the average for all boys. The same was true for White girls. For every group girls performed better than boys.

For six to seven year old boys on free school meals the attainment of White boys was less than average for maths and average for reading. White girls were better than average and average respectively. For every group girls performed better than boys.

For Attainment 8 in 2017/18 the average for girls was 49.3 and boys 43.8. For all ethnic groups girls performed better than the boys in that group. The only group that performed worse than Whites were the Black children. This was equally true for boys, girls and boys and girls combined.

Both White girls (48.8 versus 49.3) and White boys (43.4 versus 43.8) attainment was worse than average for their sex.

For Students getting 3 A grades or better at A level the figures are broadly similar.

Overall 13.0% of students got 3 A grades or better (including students whose ethnicity wasn’t known).

For the main racial groups, Whites performed worse than average (11% versus 13%) at a similar level to Asians and better than Blacks.

Gov Data Main Finding for students achieving at least 3 A grades at A level, by ethnicity 2018/19

For the most recent government statistics of education, skills and training, including data on school pupil results, apprenticeships, universities and where people go after education visit

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Witnesses at the Education Committee Inquiry

Posted below are the full videos of the witnesses contributing to the Parliament’s Education Committee on the subject of: Left behind white pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Tuesday 13th October 2020

Education Committee Tuesday 13 October 2020
Subject: Left behind white pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds

10.03 Witness(es): Professor Lee Elliot Major, Professor of Social Mobility, University of Exeter; Professor Matthew Goodwin, Professor of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent; Professor Diane Reay, Emeritus Professor of Education, University of Cambridge.

11.19 Witness(es): Mary Curnock Cook OBE; Professor Becky Francis, Chief Executive, Education Endowment Foundation; Dr Sam Baars, Director of Research and Operations, The Centre for Education and Youth

Tuesday 3rd November 2020

Education Committee Tuesday 3 November 2020
Subject: Left behind white pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds

10.01 Witness(es): Henri Murison, Director, Northern Powerhouse Partnership; Sammy Wright, Social Mobility Commissioner, Social Mobility Commission; Dr Alex Gibson, Senior Research Fellow, University of Plymouth
11.16 Witness(es): Jonathan Douglas, Chief Executive, National Literacy Trust; Ed Vainker, Chief Executive Officer, Reach Academy

Tuesday 17th November 2020

Education Committee Tuesday 17 November 2020
Subject: Left behind white pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds

Witness(es): Helena Mills CBE, Chief Executive Officer, BMAT Education; Nick Hurn OBE, Chief Executive Officer, Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust; Clementine Stewart, Vice-Chair of Governors, Langford Primary School; Claire-Marie Cuthbert, Chief Executive Officer, Evolve Trust; Andrew Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Learning Pathways Academy; Ruth Robinson, Executive Principal, Swindon and Nova Hreod Academies.

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EHCR Tackling racial harassment: Universities challenged

Equalities and Human Rights Commission
Tackling racial harassment: Universities challenged
October 2019

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Published November 2020