Private schools failing to recruit working-class white boys because of ‘anti-education culture’

Private schools are struggling to recruit enough white working-class boys because of an anti-education culture among “little skinheads”, leading headmasters have warned. Generous bursaries available to poor pupils are being increasingly claimed by children from Asian, Afro-Caribbean and Eastern European families, it was claimed. This is from the Telegraph…

Members of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, which represents more than 250 top independent schools, said children from white British backgrounds were not as “spontaneously interested in success and upward mobility” as many ethnic minorities.

Some schools fear that the shortage is making it increasingly hard for schools to prove they are meeting requirements laid out under charities legislation to provide educational opportunities for the poor.

The comments follow the launch of a major inquiry by Ofsted into the “long tail of underperformance” among children from deprived areas.

Speaking as the investigation was announced, Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector, warned that problems were particularly acute among working-class white boys because of an “anti-school” culture in many post-industrial cities.

Headmasters said that the apathy shown towards education in some areas was making it difficult to fill free and subsidised places.

Richard Russell, head of Colfe’s School in Lee, south London, said he was “seeing a lot of aspiration” among pupils from poor areas “but it’s 90 per cent Afro-Caribbean”.

“It’s these little skinheads with the St George’s cross tattoos who come from families where maybe nobody has worked; I don’t think we are getting to the white working class as successfully as we should,” he said.

Speaking to the Times Educational Supplement, he added: “These are huge generalisations, but the white working-class are not as spontaneously interested in success and upward mobility as I am seeing from the Afro-Caribbean, Eastern European and Asian families.

“There are plenty of white kids out there; some of them must be bright. We see plenty of white working-class boys and girls around the place, but a genuine concern is they are not aiming high enough.

“So often the bursary candidate has a very strong parent behind him or her.”

According to figures, children from the poorest homes – those eligible for free school meals – currently fall behind wealthier classmates throughout compulsory education. Last year, just a third of these pupils gained five good GCSEs, including the core subjects of English and mathematics, compared with some 62 per cent of other children.

White British boys eligible for free meals officially performed worse than any other group – aside from gypsy and traveller children – with fewer than 29 per cent gaining good grades.

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