Inequality Ignored: White Working-Class Males in Education – Conservative Article
Recently, the Education Committee published a report with some stark findings. It stated that in education, the most disadvantaged group of people is white working-class males. This points to the fact that discrimination isn’t just based along race or gender lines, but socioeconomic and geographical ones as well.
Our equalities agenda is too focused on generalisations and umbrella ideologies rather than specific instances. This is common among left-wing views, and parties supposed to represent these groups have abandoned them.
Firstly, the report should be summarised. It fused those eligible for free school meals (FSM) as a metric to identify those as working-class. While not a perfect definition, it provides a useful, objective framework to undertake research.
In the 2018 to 2019 school year, the average attainment of an ‘8’ score for white working-class pupils was 31.8. This is over three points lower than the national average of 34.9. For comparison, “Black African” pupils scored an average of 42.3, and “Black Caribbean” pupils scored an average of 34.1.
Nearly half of four to five-year-olds are not reaching development goals, 2% lower than the national average. However, groups like “Black Caribbean” and “Black African” are reaching 61% and 64% respectively. This means that from an early age, our working-class children are being set up for failure. Another aspect that the report highlighted is that terms like white privilege are contributing to the division.
Another statistic not mentioned by the report is the percentage of pupils getting a 5 or higher in GCSE maths and English. Broken down by ethnicity and gender, females do better across the board. While Black males do slightly worse than white males, by class it is white pupils who do worse. Only 23.2% of white pupils get a 5 or more in maths and English, compared to the 35.4% Black pupils on FSM who get a 5 or more.
The gender disparity in results can be combined with the fact that the working-class group as a whole is more disadvantaged. The result of this is that overall, white working-class males achieve the least.
A final statistic that needs addressing is university attendance rates. Only 13% of white working-class males go on to university, compared with the astronomical 59% of Black students and 64% of Asian students. While university isn’t the only option for higher education (apprenticeships are being increasingly recognised), it is still the most preferred.
These stats highlight a major issue with how equality is looked at in the UK. We are constantly told that ethnicity and gender have a massive impact on life chances. Clearly, this is not true in education. The left refuses to accept this. They tell us that you are automatically going to do better than your peers if you are white and male. Even the Labour party pushes this narrative, being dominated by those in the city. Labour has abandoned those it was meant to represent.
Terms like white privilege push an unhelpful narrative. They can obscure that discrimination can happen both ways. It makes it easier for the left to push these facts under the rug and ignore the others.
These terms also promote division in society, instead of addressing the inequality felt by others, like the working class. Assumed privilege means that white working-class pupils fall behind and are never picked up, because of their “whiteness”. It does not encompass the inequality felt by white working-class students that is clearly present. Terms that include socioeconomic and geographical inequality should be adopted instead.
The emphasis on specific and individual circumstances cannot be overlooked. The report does an important job of highlighting how the working-class have become abandoned as quixotic ideologies, like Critical Race Theory, Identity Politics, and ‘Wokeness’, take hold. The life experiences of my housemate (Peter) provide a stark contrast to the beliefs held by the average social justice activist. This, however, is just one example of the many stories hidden within the statistics of the aforementioned report.
My housemate grew up in a single parent traveller household. His father was out of his life before he turned two, and later died when he was eight. His mother raised him – alongside four other siblings – eventually having to give up her travelling life to find steady jobs to provide for her family. Currently, his mother holds three jobs but still does not make enough money to reach the lowest tax bracket. He only learnt to read when he joined secondary school and has since managed to join a Russell Group University to study law.
Despite such a disadvantaged upbringing, he has managed an incredible level of social mobility. Though he does not suffer from imposter syndrome and is proud of where he has gotten to, he has often told me that his fellow students have held him in contempt. His peers on both sides of the political spectrum have denigrated him because of his economic status. Politically right peers have acted snobbishly towards him and politically left peers have refused to acknowledge his difficult life. This is because of arbitrary concepts such as ‘white privilege’ and ‘male privilege’.
I hold a great deal of admiration for my housemate for achieving so much. He is the living embodiment of the phrase “if there is a will, there is a way.”
Obviously, university is not the place everyone wants to—or necessarily should—go to. It is heartwarming, however, to know that he has managed to get where he wanted through sheer determination and hard work, despite such a disadvantaged start in life. Whilst he himself does not suffer from imposter syndrome, it is still a prevalent problem in universities. This is because it is clear that the working class are not yet truly welcomed at universities.
Overall it is clear that there is still class inequality in Britain. It is white working-class males who are most often being left behind, forgotten, and outright ignored.
Inequalities are still most significant along the lines of class, despite what the modern equalities agenda would have you believe. White working-class males underachieve when compared to their female peers and peers of other ethnicities. Additionally, university attendance is lowest amongst the white working-class, whilst other working-class ethnicities go to university in higher numbers.
As outlined with the specific example of my housemate, there are many hurdles the average working-class person has to go through to get to university, yet they are not acknowledged by the left.
While this article has focused on the most disadvantaged group in education this does not to lessen the inequality felt by others in different areas of society. But to tackle these issues we cannot simply look at inequality through singular lenses such as gender or race. Making retroactive assumptions about who is and isn’t disadvantaged doesn’t help those who fall through the cracks.
Victimising people who are not disadvantaged whilst ignoring those who are genuinely struggling solves nothing.
Written by Deputy Chief of Conservatives, Peter Pearce and Senior Conservative Writer, Kieran Burt
Point of Information
Austerity is to blame, not the progressives – A Labour Response
The contents of the report by the Education Committee have left the rest of us with much to think about. The culprit in this article is supposedly the leftist boogeyman, demoralising the poor little white children into failing their classes with toxic notions of their inherent “white privilege”. So as a socialist and a part of the white working-class, let’s make sense of what this means for tackling inequality.
First of all, we should break down the recommendations of the report. Better local public services for families, more public funding for adult learning centres and easier access to higher education. That means more spending.
Surprisingly enough, leftists have been pretty keen to reverse the Tories austerity policies. These blunt tool policies have stripped local councils of funds for libraries and youth centres, cut adult learning funding by 50% and oversaw tuition fee debt soar to dizzying heights.
Rather than the Tories coming to terms that they have had a decade long monopoly on state-mandated misery they retreat to their safe space of blaming leftists for their own failures, with more emphasis on the “white” than the “working-class” of disadvantaged children. The Tory’s would rather stoke racial tension, claiming that pupils are being left behind because they are white, than let a single penny more go toward giving these children a better life and that is disgraceful.
This article pushes the idea that the left is dominated by a latte-sipping elite who will sneer at any person who is white. This is a lazy straw man. Especially considering every income group of working people below £100,000 a year voted for Labour in 2019.
White privilege is not a term from nowhere. It describes a very real problem in the UK where minorities still face disadvantages in policing, jobs and poverty. It is crucial that we look at the overlap disadvantaged groups share in order to understand one another’s problems in society. This is what “intersectionality” means.
A straight Black man and a gay white woman can have separate advantages over each other from their characteristic. Overall, however, society is using the same tools of power to disadvantage them both, i.e. generations of being treated as second-class citizens with no economic compensation for the damage done.
Conservatives would have you think that characteristics such as “white”, “Black”, “man”, “woman”, etc. only exist as concrete binaries, and any furthering of one group, however neglected they are, will inherently disadvantage others. The truth is that when any one of these groups is allowed economic freedoms on a fair social platform, it benefits society as a whole, as well as the many individuals who straddle these groups.
Nobody’s mother should have to work three jobs. Nor should anyone only be given the skills to read when they reach secondary school. We need to look past the lies and race-baiting that distract us from the truth we all know. Every member of the working class regardless of gender, race or sexuality needs to take back control of the educational tools that decide their destiny.
Written by Senior Labour Writer, Joseph McLaughlin
Why make it about race? – A Liberal Response
I starkly disagree with the vast majority of the claims made in this article. Thankfully, my Labour colleague, Joseph, has done a great job of pointing out that Conservative austerity led to this problem. My major problem with this article—and the report that it references—is that, rather than looking at the immediate mass problem caused by the failed British educational system, it is hyper-focused on race-baiting and using ‘Wokeness’ as the scapegoat.
In amongst all the talk of race in the article, I was surprised to come across this particular sentence: ‘Inequalities are still most significant along the lines of class’. Here, Kieran hits the nail on the head, educational inequalities are driven by class and socio-economic conditions. We could sit around debating statistics about the racial makeup of the working-class and arguing over who is the most disadvantaged. Instead, however, we could tackle the root causes of these inequalities for all.
Where Kieran goes wrong is, I think, with the report itself. If we look at the six factors used by the report, they talk about general educational inequalities. They do not have anything to do with race. To draw racial conclusions here is wrong. These factors include multigenerational disadvantage and lack of opportunity, a lack of social capital, and disengagement from the curriculum. These are not white-exclusive issues by any means. Minority groups across the country also struggle from a lack of infrastructure and funding, as a result of government austerity.
If we tackle these problems nationwide, inequalities will be reduced for all. Indeed, a report by the Office for Students found a high concentration of disadvantaged white working-class pupils living in areas of high historic unemployment, like Barnsley and Great Yarmouth.
So why does this report make such a big deal about race? The working class overwhelmingly voted for the Conservatives instead of Labour in 2019. With that, the Conservatives have a new-found—and unexpected—demographic to consider. It would be political suicide for them to admit that the lack of working-class achievement is the Tory’s fault. Instead, it is far simpler to pin the blame on ‘Wokeness’ and misguided understandings of White Privilege.
Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Luca Boyd
I am going into my second year at the University of Exeter studying a flexible combined honour in Geography and Politics. My interest in politics and geography stems from an interest in current events and the wider world, with geography being the study of all world processes.
Hello, my name is Kieran Burt and I am going into second year at Nottingham Trent University studying Politics and International Relations. I first developed an interest in politics through reading the Dictator’s Handbook by Alastair Smith and Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, when I was 16, and have furthered my interest by studying politics at A level and now at university.