White working-class British boys are falling further behind other groups of children at GCSE, despite initiatives designed to boost the performance of disadvantaged pupils.
A new study by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) of the roots of educational failure in England found that, from 2007-2012, the gap in performance between poor white boys and most other pupils actually widened.
White British boys receiving free school meals (FSM), the commonly used measure of classroom disadvantage, are performing much worse than other deprived groups of pupils.
White British children form the largest ethnic group in England on FSM. They are also the worst performing, after the much smaller groups of Gypsy Roma children and Irish traveller children.
Only 26 per cent of white British boys on FSM gained five A*-C GCSE grades (including English and Maths) last year, compared with 40 per cent of black boys on FSM, and 63 per cent of all other pupils.
Christian Guy, CSJ director, said, ‘These figures are sobering. They suggest that, despite much money and effort, white working-class boys are in danger of becoming an educational underclass. They are falling further behind other disadvantaged groups and they lag far behind the majority of pupils.
‘We need to take a close look at the reasons behind this growing inequality and reassess the measures we are taking to close the performance gap’.
Some children starting school have serious problems. Some four-year-olds arrive still in nappies, and others don’t respond to their own names and cannot speak.
The report, Requires improvement, was drawn up by a group of educational experts, chaired by Sir Robin Bosher of the Harris Federation of Academies. He said, ‘This is about social justice. We need to do more to make sure all children are given a good education’.
The CSJ report, which highlights examples of poor performing schools being turned round, also points out that while there has been an improvement in pupils getting good grades in English and Maths, over 40 per cent of children do not get A*-C grades in those subjects.