White privilege is just a MYTH to 1million white, working-class kids

WHITE working-class kids have been let down by schools for decades, and woke phrases such as “white privilege” are making it worse.

There you go. I said it. The sky didn’t fall in. The world didn’t implode.

One million white, working-class kids struggle with their education at all stagesCredit: Getty

It may make some people uncomfortable. Some may feel the need to reach for their Twitter account and have a go at me and the education committee that has made this finding.

But they are in denial. Let me prove it. Here are just some of the facts.

Nearly one million white, working- class pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds struggle with their education at all stages, from when they first pick up a book to when they leave school.

Just 53 per cent of white British kids on free school meals hit their expected targets when they are four or five. This is one of the lowest figures for any ethnic group.

Things only get worse the older they get.

At GCSEs, just 17.7 per cent of white working-class kids get a grade 5 (the equivalent of the old C) in maths and English. Again, they lag behind their classmates.

And just 16 per cent of these kids end up at university or in another type of higher education, the lowest of any ethnic group apart from Travellers of Irish heritage and Gypsy/Roma people.

Just over half of white British kids on free school meals hit their expected targets

Just over half of white British kids on free school meals hit their expected targetsCredit: Alamy

At every stage they underperform compared to almost every other ethnic group or cohort.


This has come about from decades of neglect, lame excuses and lazy thinking.

Ask why these stats are so bad and the prospects of these kids so poor and you get the same stock response: It is down to poverty.

Yet if poverty is the only reason, why is it that children from other ethnic communities but similarly disadvantaged backgrounds do much better?

The Government cannot just offer more of the same. And the educational establishment cannot just explain this away by blaming poverty alone. We must do better, and aim higher.

There are many complex reasons why white working-class boys and girls struggle at school.

For some, it will be because they come from families who, over many generations, have clocked off from education. Their mums and dads may have hated school, dropped out early, not seen the point.

At GCSEs, only 17.7 per cent get a grade 5 in maths and English

At GCSEs, only 17.7 per cent get a grade 5 in maths and EnglishCredit: Getty

Funding is also a problem. Governments have spent decades chucking cash at big cities, yet the towns where white working-class communities live are too often forgotten about and left behind.

There are few youth and community groups in these towns that encourage learning and bring people together. Scout huts have closed and the church pews are increasingly empty.

Without this support, no wonder so few white working-class kids go on to university. So what should be done?

The first thing is the narrative needs to change. For too long discussing this subject has been a taboo.

Misguided concepts such as white privilege are growing ever prevalent.
Barnardo’s lectures its parents about white privilege on its website, but it would be better to focus on looking after disadvantaged children.

Cash-strapped local councils are spending their dwindling reserves on these lessons, while cutting back on core work such as social care.

Even the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education recommends lessons in white privilege to children as young as eight.

‘Schools are unequal’

STEFANIE CURRAN, 38, a mum-of-two and community worker from Torquay, Devon, says: “There is a belief that deprivation only exists in the inner cities, but a third of the under-16s in my area live in poverty.

“Some white people in the town might be privileged, but many are not.

“I’m on universal credit, have a part-time job and run a local charity.

“I discovered how different the standards of education can be in neighbouring schools when my eight-year-old son Brody chang- ed schools.

“He was in the academy at Ellacombe, where we live, and started to get bullied. His education suffered and he no longer wanted to go to school.

“When I raised it with his teacher she told me she couldn’t give every pupil the attention they needed.

“After an 18-month battle, during which I had to homeschool Brody, he got a place in a school a few minutes away in a more affluent area. The standards are miles apart. The teachers are much more focused on the pupils’ needs.

“Everyone, no matter their background, should receive a good education.”

This is wrong-headed for a number of reasons.

First, it implies collective guilt, rather than saying an individual should be responsible for racism.

Second, it tells poor white communities that they are privileged when they are not.

You tell a single mum struggling to bring up three kids in a bedsit in my constituency of Harlow in Essex that they are a beacon of “white privilege” and they will rightly laugh in your face. But don’t be surprised if they get angry too.

Third, it is just factually incorrect given the underperformance of white working-class children compared to other ethnic groups. All it does is pit group against group. This has got to be stopped.


It is sad that many people who haven’t even properly read the report seek to condemn it out of hand and sweep the problems with the term white privilege under the carpet. They don’t even want to debate the issue.

It is yet another reason why white working-class boys and girls have suffered so long in schools. This has become a taboo subject.

There are few youth groups left, with Scout huts closing and church pews growing increasingly empty

There are few youth groups left, with Scout huts closing and church pews growing increasingly emptyCredit: Getty

But no longer. Our committee has suggested a number of policies that can change things for good.

First, funding. This must be tailormade — more cash needs to go to the most disadvantaged schools, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

Second, parents should be supported with a family hub in every town and programmes should be set up to engage parents with schools and their kids’ education.

Third, we need a curriculum that is much richer in skills. Design and technology should be added to the EBacc of GCSEs pupils are encouraged to take, and schools should be made to offer a route into vocational work if they want to get a good Ofsted rating.

To boost take-up of degrees, we should offer students the opportunity to do degree apprenticeships, where they earn while they learn, have no student debt and get a skilled job at the end.

And to attract the good teachers to these struggling schools we need to shake up the way we recruit them. Ministers should introduce a new apprenticeship so teachers can get a teaching degree while learning on the job, in the classroom.

‘Children not noticed’

CLEANER Lorraine Lucas, 44, a mum-of-four from Helston, Cornwall, says: “The school I went to didn’t encourage me to take A levels.

“It wasn’t talked about and no one in my family has been to university.

“I want more for my kids. My youngest are Tiana, 11, Leah, nine, and Rhea, five, and it’s a struggle for them to be noticed.

“They are not seen as different enough to warrant extra attention.

“The schools don’t take me seriously. I’m a cleaner, not like the posh parents at the school gates. There is a bias that if, as parents, you are poor or uneducated, your children aren’t worth the hassle.

“Or the schools are under pressure to tick boxes for specialist help, but children like mine don’t qualify for that.

“There is an occupational therapist, but not for my kids.

“Extra learning kit, Special Educational Needs kit, iPads and laptops – I can’t afford those.

“Rob Halfon is right to talk about the needs of disadvantaged white children. If we are to bring about change, we need to be included, but I feel excluded.”

Robert Halfon is Chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Education

Robert Halfon is Chairman of the Commons Select Committee on EducationCredit: Rex Features

This is not just about spending more money — it is about spending it wisely.

This has been a taboo subject for far too long. Our report must be a wake-up moment.

We must never again deny one million white working-class boys and girls the chance to climb the ladder of education opportunity.

The Sun says

YOU need a long memory to recall Labour as the party of the working class.

It is now for middle-class graduates seduced by woke Twitter memes.

When their divisive mantra about “white privilege” is criticised in a serious education report which reveals the dire plight of white working-class pupils, who do Labour MPs back?

The woke mob. Not the poor kids.

Labour must truly believe they have “privilege” to fall back on.

Minister says teaching kids ‘white privilege’ and encouraging ‘defund the police’ is illegal


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