It is a known fact that the academic attainment of disadvantaged pupils at the age of 16 varies dramatically between different ethnic groups. This week the Sutton Trust produced a report naming white working class pupils as the lowest grade achievers at GCSE of any main ethnic group, with less than a quarter of boys (24%) and a third of girls (32%) achieving five good GCSEs.
Comparatively, disadvantaged Chinese pupils perform above the national average for all pupils, while Bangladeshi, Indian, black African and Pakistani pupils from poorer homes all perform well above the national average for disadvantaged pupils.
White working class boys have topped the tables of low academic attainment for the past decade, while those from Bangladeshi, Black African and Chinese homes have improved substantially by more than 20%. Researches suggest this could be down to improvement in urban schools, the strengthening of family aspirations and different cultural attitudes.
Less than half (45%) of white British pupils attend university after leaving school, the lowest rate of any main ethnic group. Nonetheless when they do, they have better rates of entering elite universities, with 24% entering a Russell Group institution.
The report calls for the implementation of targeted attainment improvement programmes for disadvantaged white British and ethnic minority pupils to improve the group’s outcomes. It also calls for more opportunities for disadvantaged ethnic groups to supplement core lessons through the giving of enrichment vouchers. In contrast, it also calls for a government fund to support highly able pupils. Finally it encourages the recruitment of more highly qualified teachers to teach in deprived schools through financial incentives and more free periods.