Report: White Working Class English Marginalized in Their Schools
Print Friendly and PDF

“The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up” by J.M.W. Turner, 1838. Voted Britain’s favorite painting in 2005.

From The Telegraph:
Poor white pupils put off school by multicultural timetable

A study finds that working-class white children are being turned off school because lessons are too focused on celebrating other cultures while shunning British traditions

By Graeme Paton, Education Editor 3:08PM BST 27 Jun 2014 1233 Comments

White working class children are being “marginalised” at school after being forced to follow a multicultural timetable that shuns British traditions, according to research.

Large numbers of schools follow a curriculum that celebrates a “diverse range of pupils” while sidelining those from poor British families, it was claimed.

Head teachers told how they ran numerous projects such as Black History Month and “cultural days” to raise awareness of countries such as Portugal, Poland and Jamaica.

But it was claimed that white British pupils from deprived homes often “cannot see themselves or their lives reflected in the curriculum”, turning them off school altogether.

The study, published by Lambeth Council in south London, said that poor children were further isolated by a “small world” mentality, with parents failing to take them to the local park or visit places of interest.

Researchers called on the Department for Education to develop a “curriculum that treats white British identity in the same way as ethnic minorities”.

… The conclusions come amid growing concerns that working-class white British children are lagging dramatically behind at school and now perform worse than any other group.

According to figures, just 32.3 per cent of poor white British children left school last summer with five A* to C grades at GCSE.

Poor children from every other ethnic group performed better, with more than three-quarters of poor Chinese pupils and 61.5 per cent of those from deprived Indian families achieving the best results.

The gulf in results between poor white children and their richer classmates has hardly changed in the last seven years, even though the gap seen in other ethnic groups is narrowing.

… But the study said parents themselves “lamented a lack of white culture reflected in school life which perpetuated for many the marginalisation they felt within their communities”.

… One head teacher told researchers: “The curriculum that has been on offer has not been meeting the needs of white British pupils. There has been much emphasis in recent years on elements of black history and a celebration of cultural days such as ‘Portuguese day’. There has been nothing for the British culture.

“This might have led to a sense of them losing their identity.”

Another head said: “It seems to be easier to celebrate the good things about other cultures – the dance, the food, the stories and to ask parents to come in and share their food, their traditions with us. We’ve worked through the cultures and have left this one to last.”

It was claimed that many poor white British children in the area have black cultural role models and “speak with a South London patois”.

It claimed that a “general lack of knowledge or understanding of the world” acted as a “barrier to aspiration” for many children.

Despite living within a few miles of central London, some pupils had never even see the River Thames, researchers suggested.

It said that children from white working-class homes should be entitled to the same kind of remedial language support as pupils who have English as a second language.[Emphasis added]

I was looking for a list of high achieving working class Englishmen down through history, beyond the usual actors and footballers, but couldn’t find one online. I can often find lists of the type I’m looking for by simply typing famous examples into Google, so I tried seeding it with the names of the physicist Michael Faraday (1791-1867) and painter J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), who both grew up quite poor in what’s now London (and were friends, it turned out). Kenneth Clark said something like

Turner, who anticipated much of Impressionism by at least a generation and was approaching abstraction in Rain, Steam and Speed, maintained a perpetual interest in less-refined subjects, such as the Houses of Parliament burning down.

Of course, once you become a great painter or physicist, you aren’t working class anymore. That may explain something about why racial/ethnic identities are so much more cogent than class ones these days.

Print Friendly and PDF