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White working-class pupils 'performing worst at GCSE level'

11/11/2016 Joanna

White working-class pupils are the least likely group in the country to attain good GCSE scores, according to a new report.

Analysis published by the Sutton Trust in a report called Class Differences has shed light on how academic attainment of among pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds at age 16 varies significantly between different ethnic groups.

It was shown that disadvantaged Chinese pupils perform above the national average for all pupils, despite their poor upbringings, while Bangladeshi, Indian, black African and Pakistani students from less well-off homes all perform well above the national average for disadvantaged pupils specifically.

By contrast, white working-class pupils generally achieve the lowest grades at GCSE of any main ethnic group, with only one-quarter of boys and one-third of girls achieving at least five good GCSEs.

Meanwhile, the attainment gap in GCSE performances between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils was shown to stand at 46 percentage points for Irish pupils and 32 percentage points for white British students, compared to only three percent among Chinese pupils.

While these findings reflect major improvements in attainment levels among Bangladeshi, black African and Chinese children over the last decade, it also shows that their white counterparts - especially boys - are being left behind due to discrepancies in performance between urban and rural areas, varying family aspirations and cultural attitudes, and divergent availability of targeted funds.

As such, the report called for new measures to tackle the issue, including new improvement programmes for students at particular risk of falling behind, incentives to encourage highly-qualified teachers to teach in deprived schools, new opportunities for disadvantaged ethnic groups to supplement core lessons, and dedicated funds to support highly able pupils who fall behind at school.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation, said: "Harnessing that same will to learn that we see in many ethnic minority groups in white working-class communities should be a part of the solution to the low attainment of many boys and girls. We need a more concerted effort with white working-class boys, in particular.

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