White working-class British boys are in danger of becoming an “educational under-class”, the head of an influential think-tank said today.
Christian Guy, director of the Centre for Social Justice, delivered the warning after research showed the performance gap between white British boys on free school meals and the rest of the nation’s pupils had grown during the five years up until 2012.
The research, by the CSJ showed only 26 per cent of poor white British boys obtained five A* to C grades at GCSE including maths and English - compared to 40 per cent of black boys and 63 per cent of the country as a whole.
It revealed they had the worst performance of any ethnic group - once the much smaller group of Gypsy Roma children was excluded from the survey.
“These figures are sobering,” said Mr Guy. “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.”
Concern over the performance of white working-class UK boys has been felt in government circles for some time now. Earlier this year Universities Minister David Willetts told The Independent they should be targeted in the same way as other ethnic minority groups by universities seeking to persuade more disadvantaged teenagers to opt for university.
The Government is also ploughing millions of pounds into the pupil premium - extra cash given to schools to cope with disadvantaged pupils - in a bid to turn the tide of under-performance.
“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,” said Mr Guy.
The CSJ’s research also threw up examples of how shockingly prepared four-year-olds are when they arrive for their first day at school.
It heard stories about them being still in nappies and unable to speak and therefore respond to their own names.
Sir Robin Bosher, former primary school headteacher and chairman of the working group of educational experts who produced the report, said some were developmentally nearer to the age of two when they started school.
“I see about 10 per cent in each class who are so unsociable that they hurt others, adults and other young children” he said. “But they’re unsociable because they have no practice at being sociable.”
The CSJ was set up in 2004 by former Conservative party leader now Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith