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White working class boys are the most deprived - and ignored - ethnic group in England


White, working-class boys from low-income homes are by far the most underprivileged children in Britain in comparison with any other major ethnic group.

According to the Department for Education, just 13 per cent of white boys entitled to free school meals (because their families are on benefits) go on to higher education.

Yet 27 per cent of similar black Caribbean boys go to university, 42 per cent of Pakistani, 51 per cent of black African and 66 per cent of Chinese boys. 

It is a staggering fact that only two per cent of white, working-class children get into the most prestigious universities, yet we fall over ourselves to help other groups make it.

The only groups with worse educational outcomes than white, working-class boys are their peers from gypsy, Roma and Irish traveller backgrounds. So will we see a campaign on behalf of Britain's poor white children? I'm confident the answer is no. 

It is simply not fashionable to talk about white, working-class kids.

Nobody wonders aloud why there are so few white, working-class students in higher education.

Our universities seem oblivious to the problem of raising educational standards for the white working class, despite the fact this is the biggest single social group in Britain – in fact, precisely because they are the biggest group.

These boys who underachieve so badly do not come from a minority, let alone a fashionable one. They are too unfashionable to have a hashtag.

The suggestion that these and other groups of boys are infected with 'toxic masculinity' is another modish criticism which is likely to make things worse, not better.

It is another way of suggesting they are to blame for their own plight, that they should somehow make amends simply for being who they are.

Today, attempting to do anything on behalf of white boys from lower income backgrounds is seen as tantamount to fostering racism.

When Professor Bryan Thwaites, the 96-year-old mathematician and philanthropist, tried last year to set up a £1million bequest to benefit poor working-class boys at his old school, Dulwich College, he was turned down. Winchester College also rejected the gift.

The very idea was treated as toxic. Yet when the grime artist Stormzy set up scholarships for poor black children, he was widely praised.

We seem to be talking about how every other group in society is victimised and left behind, yet when the figures show how badly young white males are being let down, we shut our eyes and ears.

We ignore them, deride them, look down on them and treat them as failures – and then we wonder why so many people in these communities are rebelling against the status quo.

After winning the Election, Boris Johnson promised he was going to 'level up' the country.

The obvious place to start is by levelling up the life prospects for these boys.