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Leader: Our educational system is failing working class boys

Category: In the News
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The New Statesman devoted its leading article to the Sutton Trust Missing Talent report.

The educational underachievement of the most disadvantaged children in England is a disgrace. A new report from the Sutton Trust, published on 3 June, makes clear the scale of the problem: children who grow up in poor homes have less than half as much chance of getting top GCSE grades as those from other families. Boys from disadvantaged backgrounds perform especially poorly, including many of those who thrive at primary school but later flounder. Indeed, over a third of boys on free school meals who are in the top 10 per cent of performers at the age of 11 have, by the age of 16, fallen outside the top 25 per cent. Something is going very wrong – and needs urgently to be addressed.

What the Sutton Trust calls “Missing Talent” is especially prevalent among the white working class, whose educational performance is worse than any other demographic group’s. While just 28.3 per cent of white boys eligible for free school meals earn five good GCSEs, at least 39 per cent of mixed-race, Asian and black boys do so. This is an indictment of the support that struggling white, working-class pupils receive. The situation is particularly bad in the north and the Midlands, where eight out of the ten worst-performing local authorities identified by the Sutton Trust are located.


As things stand and as the Sutton Trust reminds us, the correlation between poverty, geography and educational underachievement diminishes us all.

Read the full piece here