White pupils are the big problem in state schools, says Government adviser Tim Leunig
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Sunday 13 October 2013
A Department for Education adviser has sparked debate by claiming that “being white” is now a problem in state schools – because ethnic minority children do so much better.
Tim Leunig, an aide to Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws, told a conference of headteachers that more needs to be done to tackle under-achievement of the “dominant racial group” if standards are to improve.
“If your school happens to have a lot of Chinese students you are likely to do well on progress measures – that is the reality,” Dr Leunig told the conference organised by the Association of School and College Leaders.
He added: “It is being white that is the problem at the moment. For the future of Britain it obviously matters more to tackle white under-performance just because there are more white people.”
Dr Leunig’s comments come at a time of growing concern about the academic achievements of white working-class pupils. Figures cited in a report by the think-tank the Centre for Social Justice last month showed only 26 per cent of white boys who received free school meals gained five A* to C grades, including maths and English, last year. This compared with 40 per cent of black boys and 63 per cent of all other pupils on free school meals.
But Dr Leunig was criticised by a fellow academic for being “too simplistic”. Tony Sewell, an expert on education in disadvantaged communities, said that while Dr Leunig was right to draw attention to underachievement amongst white working-class pupils, it was not correct to suggest all other ethnic groups were doing better.
“What he (Dr Leunig) hasn’t done is look at the differentiation between black groups,” he added. “For example the top group, outside of Asian students, in London at the moment I would say are girls of a West African background who are doing phenomenally well. Yet we still have issues with, for example, Somali boys and, though it has improved, Caribbean groups still struggle a bit.”
But Brian Lightman, general secretary of Association for School and College Leaders, said: “It is well known that the achievement of many white working-class boys is a particular cause for concern. Dr Leunig was absolutely right to emphasise that it would be absolutely wrong to tolerate under-performance of any group.”
Dr Leunig, an economist on secondment from the London School of Economics who is working on new secondary school league table measures for the Department for Education, is no stranger to controversy. In 2008, he was the co-author of a controversial report which appeared to suggest giving up on regeneration attempts in Liverpool, Bradford, Sunderland and Hull and abandoning them to permanent economic decline.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: “The Government wants all children to succeed, whatever their background.”
David Haines remembered: Death of British hostage executed by Isis lamented from the Balkans to Sudan
Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton nude pictures exhibition cancelled after artist concedes photos were 'stolen property'
David Haines beheading: David Cameron says Britain will hunt down Isis 'monsters' shown in video murdering aid worker
Piers Morgan attempts to save the Union by promising to go back to the US if Scotland votes 'No' to independence
Jennifer Lawrence to make public appearance after nude photo hacking scandal as Met Gala Ball 2015 co-host
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained in Los Angeles after being mistaken for a prostitute
George Galloway on Scottish independence: The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Scottish independence: Britain faces 'constitutional crisis' at next election
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
- 1 Scotland independence vote: Everything you ever wanted to know about life after the result
- 2 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Piers Morgan attempts to save the Union by promising to go back to the US if Scotland votes 'No' to independence
- 5 Tyler, The Creator says having the new U2 album automatically downloaded on his iPhone was 'like waking up with herpes'
£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and i...
£50 - £65 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and...
£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...
£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...