Poor white pupils ‘need best teachers and long days’

The BBC is reporting that a cross-party committee of MPs has said white working-class children need schools with incentives to attract high-quality teachers and longer days to allow pupils do their homework…

The Education Select Committee has been examining the underachievement of poor white children in England.

Their exam results are much worse than disadvantaged black or Asian pupils.

The MPs’ report describes poor white youngsters as “consistently the lowest performing group in the country”.

The report – Underachievement in Education by White Working Class Children – identifies this as a “real and persistent” problem.

Poor white children are already lagging behind when they start primary school, and the gap grows wider as they get older.

As each school year passes, this attainment gap sees them falling further behind wealthier white pupils and poor children from ethnic minorities.

The rising results among poor black and Asian pupils shows “improvements can be made”, MPs say.

This report “holds a mirror up to the situation – it does not attempt to solve the problem”, but it makes some recommendations to lessen this underachievement.

Poor pupils of all ethnic backgrounds are much more likely to do well in outstanding schools.

The report shows that 50% of pupils eligible for free school meals will achieve a benchmark of five good GCSEs if they attend a school rated by Ofsted as outstanding.

This compares with only 25% in a school rated as inadequate.

The report argues that as a particularly low-achieving group, poor white children would have the most to gain from access to outstanding schools and the best teachers.

There should be incentives to recruit high-quality teachers into schools that could help these pupils, argues the report…

There are practical forms of help, says the report, such as allowing time and space for children to do their homework at school, which could mean extending the school day.

The pupil premium, which targets funds at poor children, was welcomed as likely to make a difference…

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw highlighted the importance of supportive parents, irrespective of income.

“Poverty of expectation bears harder on educational achievement than material poverty, hard though that can be. And these expectations start at home.”

Representatives of Leicester City Council told MPs that there were parts of the city where “white working class culture is characterised by low aspirations and negative attitudes towards education”.

But the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which has researched poverty, rejected the idea of low parental aspirations, but instead blamed a lack of self-belief among white working-class families.

They wanted their children to be high achievers, but had a much lower expectation than middle-class families that they would be able to “achieve their goals”…

The National Union of Teachers said that underachievement was linked to poverty…

More at: Poor white pupils ‘need best teachers and long days’

The two main routes forward suggested by the committee seem to be offering incentives to attract the highest-possible quality of teachers and longer school days to get homework done in school. What do you think of these ideas and what else would you recommend to address the issues involved? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter and take part in our poll…

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  1. BridgetBurke2

    SchoolsImprove why longer days? That’s not a panacea. Try more opportunities, better role models.

  2. SobiaIqbal55

    Loise_Gichuhi SchoolsImprove For intervention strategies to help lower ability children improve their performance.

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Nothing to disagree with, only they are struggling to recruit with the so-called friendly hours, so longer hours won’t help

  4. Loise_Gichuhi

    SobiaIqbal55 SchoolsImprove that might be counterproductive if handled from an exclusion point of view

  5. LadyCarolMason

    SchoolsImprove Teachers need a home and private life or are they supposed to give that up to work, in class, 12 hours a day??

  6. angelsoft_ICT

    SchoolsImprove And the clubs? Cleaners? Site Staff? Where do they go? When do they do their jobs? How do parents on late shifts cope?

  7. angelsoft_ICT

    SchoolsImprove <Rant Continues> and the children, some of whom haven’t eaten since 11am? The teaching staff who’ve not stopped since 7am?

  8. angelsoft_ICT

    SchoolsImprove How about rural kids, who have a journey of more than an hour to reach school? When will they even reach home???

  9. angelsoft_ICT

    SchoolsImprove And from what basis is the assumption that these kids need more of what clearly doesn’t work???
    Sorry – will sit still now

  10. Flutterbiesltd

    SchoolsImprove what they need is food and not sanctions on parents! No one can learn when hungry!! #foodbanks

  11. bobbert_

    itstheHop As a teacher do you think it’s all down to teaching, or is it also support not provided at home / parental attitude to education?

  12. bobbert_

    itstheHop (My only experience is subjective, where kids who had “pushy” parents seemed to do better because parents cared about results.)

  13. Flutterbiesltd

    SchoolsImprove what children and parents need is qualified teachers and a govt to back off, on what only they think is best

  14. ldnteachr

    MaryMyatt SchoolsImprove surely this only ‘closes the gap’ if the non-white-and-poor children get sent home early!

  15. itstheHop

    bobbert_ A child’s background has a big impact on a child’s development, but you can’t really generalise. There’s no magic solution.

  16. itstheHop

    bobbert_ This is why good schools support children who are not making as good progress as their peers, which may include family support.

  17. JeniHooper

    SchoolsImprove while so many employers offer low pay the reality for most families is that bettering yourself hits a glass ceiling.

  18. rhcaseby

    SchoolsImprove Surely there aren’t schools which don’t already provide study facilities / homework clubs after school?

  19. neilayates

    getcarter66 SchoolsImprove In other words bring back boarding schools.More time away from home, higher they’ll achieve? #needrolemodels

  20. SobiaIqbal55

    Flutterbiesltd SchoolsImprove qualified teachers can earn more in other professions. Especially if they have good qualifications.

  21. annejoynes

    rhcaseby SchoolsImprove
    There are, of course, but Gove hasn’t been to one therefore they don’t exist.

  22. 4C3d

    There are some clues in the findings – one stands out for me and that is the longer these children are at school the further behind they fall. Whilst there is no one single cause for not doing well at school we know where an adult takes an interest in a young learner and is able to coach or mentor them they do much better (this may be a teacher a parent or family member). Many “disadvantaged” learners see ability as fixed an not something they can do anything about, early failure in a testing and target environment reinforces this mindset. When you can help a learner re draw their “learning map” (what they believe they can and can not learn) they move from a fixed to a growth mindset.   My take on this is a concept I call “Learning Intelligence”. To find out more about how to give disadvantaged or fixed mindset learners the edge we need to show them the link between their learning environment and how they learn. To find out how to show learners how to manage their learning environment to meet their learning needs explore my work at 4c3d.wordpress.com 


  23. Janet2

    @angelsoft_ICT SchoolsImprove Pupils in rural areas rely on school transport – there’s no way they can stay after school even if they want to.

  24. SallyHoward3

    See ASPIRE research report regarding ‘science capital’ ..The study shows that what ‘parents’ think influences children and their mind set. . It’s supporting the parents that we need more off. Eg After school tea clubs for parents and siblings where they can ‘relax’ and learn together ( and eat food) and see the relevance of ‘education’ in creative and dynamic ( not stressful) ways.. engaging in games that enhance talking together and critical thinking and socialisation would be the best ‘after school work’ A game of darts is better fir mental maths skills than a set of calculations fir example.

  25. Janet2

    Longer days won’t necessarily raise education standards.  Finland reaches the top of international education league tables but children spend less time in school than in any other country.  It’s quality not quantity.  And teachers in high-performing Shanghai have fewer class-contact hours than in England – they’re expected to have time to evaluate, assess and plan.

    That said, children need supportive parents (and you can’t bully parents into being supportive) and a quiet place to work at home (with parents willing to limit computer/TV time).  But the bedroom tax, which says children must share rooms until puberty (mixed sex) or 16 (single sex) makes that less likely for the very children the government says it wants to help.

  26. Busy Mum

    Schools are busy classifying their children according to the Equality Act characteristics and making sure that these easily identifiable children are making headway……meanwhile which of these boxes do poor white working class children slot in to?

  27. garrodt

    LadyCarolMason NASUWT SchoolsImprove dFE-Gove says YES & less pay & pensions u can be replaced with ex Army,or unqualified staff.Why ?

  28. JayneLife

    LadyCarolMason SchoolsImprove of course they are! I lasted 4years. Teaching full time becomes your life. Credit to those who continue.

  29. SophieBLovett

    SchoolsImprove I think jrf_uk hits the nail on the head – it’s low self-esteem and self-efficacy that we need to address most urgently

  30. LaCatholicState

    SchoolsImprove Poor white pupils need Church schools. Then watch them bloom. Secular state schools have been bad for them.

  31. LaCatholicState

    Busy Mum   Exactly.  White children (especially boys) come bottom of the pile in the secular state system.

  32. VictoriaJaquiss

    SchoolsImprove Poor white pupils need best teachers, long days for what exactly? Best teachers being driven out, but maybe a bit of money?

  33. 380granadina

    VictoriaJaquiss SchoolsImprove they don’t need long days they need more family liason officers based in schools and more support

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