Make school day longer to improve results for white working class boys, say MPs


Education Editor

White working class pupils should have a longer day at school to help them boost their test and exam results, an influential group of MPs will recommend today.

A report from the Commons education select committee shows they are more likely to play truant and do less homework than any other ethnic group. They also come out of school with the worst qualifications of any ethnic group, the report adds.

The report comes as chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw is calling for head teachers to be given the power to fine parents who fail to ensure their children turn up to school on time or complete their homework.

The longer hours, argues today’s report, could be used to supply poorer pupils with a place to do their homework. It cites evidence that it is much harder for them to study “in a room where nobody was eating, watching television or doing anything except homework”.

“Poor white British children now come out of our schools with worse qualifications than equally poor children in any other ethnic group,” said Graham Stuart, the Conservative chairman of the select committee.

“They do less homework and are more likely to miss school than other groups. We don’t know how much of the underperformance is due to poor attitudes to school, a lack of work ethic or weak parenting.”

The report makes it clear the problem of white working class underachievement is not confined to boys as some observers have claimed. Girls, too, fare worse than other ethnic groups.

Figures show just 32 per cent of poor white British children obtain five A* to C grades, compared to 42 per cent of Black Caribbean children eligible for free school meals and 61 per cent of disadvantaged Indian children.

A similar picture emerges in results of national curriculum tests in the three Rs at 11 - with 74 per cent of white British working class pupils reaching the required landmark compared with 82 per cent of Indian pupils, and 77 per cent of black Caribbean.

“Some other ethnic groups appear to be more resilient than white British children to the effects of poverty, deprivation and low socioeconomic status on educational achievement,” the report goes on.

It adds: “The current trend towards longer school days presents an opportunity for schools to provide space and timer for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds to complete their homework, which may particularly benefit white working class children.”

Ally Paget of the think tank Demos said the report showed schools should be teaching values that helped working class pupils to succeed, rather than the “British values” outlined by Education Secretary Michael Gove last week.

Meanwhile, Sir Michael Wilshaw was embroiled in a row with teachers’ leaders yesterday after his call for head teachers to be given powers to fine parents who fail to support their children’s education.

The powers, he argued in an interview with The Times, could be used on parents who allowed homework to be undone, missed parents’ evenings or failed to read to their children

He said that poverty was often used as an excuse for the educational failure of children from working working-class families.

Education Secretary Michael Gove is currently working on proposals for parents to face “stronger sanctions” if they fail to ensure their children turn up on time or behave properly.

However, Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said fining parents could “very easily tear apart what can often be a fragile relationship between the school and the parent or carer and certainly will not benefit the child”.

Sir Michael also incurred the wrath of bloggers. One comment posted on the BBC’s website said of fining parents: “That won’t work. Rather than trying to educate children... why not extend the school day to include breakfast, lunch and homework?”

Another said: “Fining parents won’t make a lot of difference. Many parents won’t be able to afford the fines and it will switch them off even more from the education of their children.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Pre School Practitioner

£6 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued expansion, they are loo...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development & Relationship Manager

£45000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Development & Relati...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant - Startup

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Personal Assistant is require...

Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific