ASCL responds to Education Select Committee’s report on white disadvantaged pupils

21/06/2021
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the report of the House of Commons Education Committee which finds that white working-class pupils have been let down by decades of neglect.
 
Commenting on the report of the House of Commons Education Committee which finds that white working-class pupils have been let down by decades of neglect, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
 
“We have to do better for all disadvantaged pupils – from all ethnic backgrounds – and this report is right to highlight the factors beyond the school gates which affect educational attainment. Many communities suffer from multigenerational poverty, insecure employment and lack of opportunity, and it is extremely hard to raise attainment when children and families experience such factors.
 
“Education has the power to transform lives but it must be supported by wider social policies. We welcome the recommendation of a strong network of family hubs to offer integrated services, but the government must go further and do much more to address the scourge of child poverty in general which continues to shame our nation.
 
“We also welcome the general direction of the proposals for reforming the education system by looking at how the pupil premium might provide more support, how more teachers could be attracted to challenging areas, and boosting vocational training. Clearly, there would need to be more detailed discussion about these recommendations to take them forward.
 
“We’re not quite sure why the committee has chosen to enter the debate about the widely discredited report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, and the term ‘white privilege’. This does not seem helpful and is likely to divert attention from the rest of the report. Schools are well aware of their responsibilities and do a very good job in providing opportunities for discussion around issues in a sensitive, balanced and measured way.”