Poor, white working class children 'bottom of the class'

Children who are poor, white and working class are bottom of the class and will remain there unless there is a major overhaul of education, according to a major report by a think tank.New selective schools for the working class, and an Olympic style "Team GB" approach should be adopted to transform the performance among the ethnic group with the lowest level of educational attainment, the report says.

The study by think tank ResPublica, was commissioned by Knowsley Council in Merseyside, and it states that of all children from disadvantaged backgrounds, white British children were least likely to do well in school.

Knowsley is the second poorest borough in England, and is the lowest performing authority in England for pupils achieving grades A*-C at GCSE.

The area has a white, working class "mono culture" where youngsters have little contact with others from different social backgrounds.

The report authors say that while the study focuses on the area, change is needed nationally, from how pupils are encouraged to achieve, to how schools are funded and run at local and national levels.

Phillip Blond, Director of ResPublica. Credit: PA

Director of ResPublica Phillip Blond said: "For too long white working class children have been left behind by an education system which is not working properly.

"With a new education secretary we have the chance to implement change, not only in Knowsley where we know that improvements need to be made but across the whole of the country.

"Re-introducing grammar schools is potentially a transformative idea for working class areas where there are little or no middle classes to game the admission system.

"We know that selection improves the performance of those white working class children selected - the trouble is too few of them are. We recommend that new grammars in the first instance are exclusively focused on the needs of white working class children."

Among its recommendations, the report outlines plans for a "Northern Teaching Premium" of higher wages to attract good teachers, and adopting a "Team GB" approach identifying success both in and out of the classroom.

Neil Carmichael MP, chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee, said: "For some time there has been a feeling the white working class have been left behind by the education system.

"Much more must be done to support these deprived communities, and I welcome ResPublica's call for a renewed focus on both local and national solutions."