A senior Government education adviser has warned that for boys at least, “being white” had become “the problem” in schools.
Britain cannot expect to flourish economically unless there is a concerted effort to halt academic failure by white boys as they are the “dominant racial group”, a senior Government education adviser has warned.
Dr Tim Leunig, an economic historian and aide to the schools minister David Laws, said that for boys at least “being white” had become “the problem” in schools.
He argued that from an economic point of view it matters “more” to target underachievement among white pupils than others.
And he added that the education system could be described as “institutionally sexist” by failing to ensure boys and girls are making similar levels of progress.
His comments, reported by the TES, come after official figures show that white boys from deprived backgrounds are now the worst performing ethnic group in reading tests for six years olds.
Just under half of poor white British boys – defined as those receiving free school meals – passed the test, being outscored by similar pupils from Black, Asian and Chinese backgrounds.
Dr Leunig, a London School of Economics academic working as a Government policy adviser, said in a talk to members of the Association of School and College Leaders: “We as a society have to ask ourselves: ‘Why is it that white kids are doing so much worse?’
“We have to tackle that as a society.
“For the future of Britain it obviously matters more to tackle white underperformance just because there are more white people.
“You cannot have your dominant racial group doing badly in school and expect to flourish as a country in the next generation and beyond.
“That just won’t hold so we need to tackle that one really explicitly.”
He added: “If your school happens to have a lot of Chinese students you are likely to do well on progress measures.
“That is the reality – the same is true for almost all ethnic groups other than white.”
In a reference to the favourite catchphrase of Sacha Baron Cohen’s comic character Ali G, he said: “If Ali G wants a new comic character in schools he has to say ‘Is it because I is white?’ because that is the reality.
“It is being white that is the problem in schools at the moment.”
Calling for schools to be measured on steps they take to help boys close the gap academically with girls, he said: “You could perfectly well describe the school system at the moment as institutionally sexist.
“The difference in progress rates between girls and boys is really very large indeed.”
Figures published by the Department for Education earlier this month show that almost 180,000 pupils failed to reach the expected level in a new reading test this summer.
They showed that even after 12 months of compulsory education boys are already lagging behind girls.
Dr Leunig’s remarks emerged as it emerged that the Department for Education has been examining whether genes are more important than teaching standards in determining pupils’ academic success.
Ministers have been briefed by Prof Robert Plomin, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, on research concluding that inherited intelligence could account for almost 60 per cent of teenagers’ scores in GCSEs with factors such as school performance much less important.
Prof Plomin’s work was cited in a paper written by the Education Secretary Michael Gove’s special adviser Dominic Cummings which was leaked at the weekend.
White boys 'the problem' for Britain's schools, says Government aide - Telegraph