British children of white working-class parents have been found to be victims of “systemic neglect” for decades when they were exposed to divisive labels such as “white privilege,” according to a bombshell report.
In Parliament, the Commons Education Select Committee said “white working-class pupils are one of the worst-achieving groups in the country, and ‘feel anything but privileged,’” according to the U.K. Daily Mail, which used the term “systemic neglect” to sum up this concept.
A bitter fight broke out between the conservative Tory and left-leaning Labour members of Parliament as they debated the implications of the report, titled, “The Forgotten: How White Working-Class Pupils Have Been Let Down, and How To Change It.”
Out of all the ethnicities identified, only three scored lower than white students: white Irish, Irish Travellers — a nomadic indigenous Irish ethnic group — and Gypsies/Roma.
Report Calls Out Past Findings When Nothing Was Done
The committee highlighted in its report that it had been down this road previously. The report found the gap between white working-class students and most other ethnicities “has been evident for years” and referenced reports in 2008, 2013 and 2014 — the latter written specifically to highlight the disparity.
“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,” Education Committee chair Robert Halfon said in a statement.
“White working-class pupils underperform significantly compared to other ethnic groups, but 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.”
“So far, the Department for Education 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,” Halfon continued.
“Economic and cultural factors are having a stifling effect on the life chances of many White disadvantaged pupils with low educational outcomes persisting from one generation to the next. The Government needs to tackle intergenerational disadvantage, inbuilt disadvantages based on where people live and disengagement from the curriculum.”
Not Politically Correct?
Left-leaning Labour MP Fleur Anderson, a committee member, told the Daily Mail, “I’m concerned this report will be used to fight a divisive culture war instead of address chronic under-funding of early years, family hubs, careers advice and mentoring, and youth services.
“There is a lot that needs to be heard in this report about children badly let down. But I joined the Labour members in deciding that we had to vote against it. The report makes the issue race when we found it is more about disadvantage based on place,” she added.
Apparently, Anderson wants to continue government funding of ethnic minority children despite the report’s clear conclusion that white children are being consistently underserved — or “let down” as she put it.
And Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper tweeted, “Pitting kids against each other based on skin colour is despicable. This report reveals that disparities have far more to do with where a child lives. Instead of stoking culture wars, govt should provide proper catch-up funding, children desperately need.”
Pitting kids against each other based on skin colour is despicable. This report reveals that disparities have far more to do with where a child lives. Instead of stoking culture wars, govt should provide proper catch-up funding, children desperately need https://t.co/3LOH5bi7wh
— Daisy Cooper MP 🔶 (@libdemdaisy) June 22, 2021
Her statement flies in the face of the simple fact that white working-class students — regardless of where they live — perform more poorly than nearly every ethnic minority.
Report Offers Damning, Inconvenient Statistics
According to the Daily Mail, the report pointed out that “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 [Irish Travellers].”
Halfon told Times Radio, “You’re telling poorer white communities that they are white privileged, when all it does is lead to further disengagement from the education system and pits one group against another.”
“So far, the Department for Education has been reluctant to recognize the specific challenges faced by the white working class, let alone do anything to tackle this chronic social injustice. This must stop now,” he continued. “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.”
Halfon closed with the simple truth felt by so many children: “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.”
Time will tell if Britain will actually address the problem of poor-performing white students or continue the narrative that it is actually only the ethnic minorities who need a leg up.
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