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…
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…[yop_poll id=”212″]