Education

Education Secretary Damian Hinds warns two-thirds of the UK’s worst-off children are white British | Daily Mail Online

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Two thirds of the country’s most disadvantaged children are white British – but all too often are ignored, the Education Secretary has warned.

Damian Hinds said the focus of social mobility discussions tended to be on ethnic minorities that needed a helping hand, while the white majority were mentioned ‘in passing’.

In addition, he said it was ‘too simplistic’ to assume the whole of the Midlands and the North were worse off than the South, as many regional cities do extremely well.

Mr Hinds said he was focusing his attentions on coastal areas, which tend to have large populations of poor white children whose attainment lags behind the rest.  

These include Blackpool, Hastings and Scarborough.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds (pictured) warned two thirds of the country’s most disadvantaged children are white British – but all too often are ignored

Mr Hinds was speaking at a social mobility event hosted by the think-tank Reform. He said that while it was right to focus on the disadvantages black children face, the picture is ‘complicated’ because of the differences within this group.

For example, when examining black African children alone, data shows they have a ‘significantly higher rate’ of participation in university than the white British population.

However, when they get there, they are less likely to complete the course and less likely to get a top degree, he said.

He added: ‘There is another group of children, who we often mention, but sort of in passing, sometimes, which is white British children. Among the disadvantaged population, the lowest performing group is white British children.

‘Just among those who are classed as disadvantaged, if you separate out the ethnicities, white British children are least likely to reach the expected level at reading and writing and mathematics and then make the lowest progress when it comes to secondary school.

‘When we talk about ethnicity, we tend to talk about all other ethnicities and then sometimes say, “of course, we must not forget white British children”. Almost two thirds of the cohort of disadvantaged children are white British children.’

Mr Hinds said at a social mobility event: ‘White British children are least likely to reach the expected level at reading and writing and mathematics and then make the lowest progress when it comes to secondary school.’ (stock image of a classroom)

He said that in order to tackle the attainment gap, policies needed to be directed at areas where there was a high concentration of white British children, as well as more diverse areas.

Mr Hinds used the example of Birmingham, which out-performs nearby areas Solihull and Dudley and has some of the best results in the country.

He added: ‘The North-South divide – there is some truth to there being differences on average between the North and South, but actually it’s far too simplistic a concept if we’re to understand the complex make-up of the UK.

‘There’s another type of location… which is coastal areas, where there is something endemic which means performance is lower on average.’ 

He said that in order to tackle the attainment gap, policies needed to be directed at areas where there was a high concentration of white British children, as well as more diverse areas (stock image of a classroom)

In his wide-ranging speech on social mobility, Mr Hinds also announced he would change the admissions code to make it easier for families escaping domestic abuse to switch schools.

He said he wanted vulnerable children to get a school place ‘as quickly as possible’.

And Mr Hinds revealed that one in ten children – or 1.6 million – live in such a chaotic home that they regularly see a social worker.

He said more needed to be done to help these children, who often do not qualify for disadvantage criteria in areas such as university admissions. e.harding@dailymail.co.uk

Education Secretary Damian Hinds warns two-thirds of the UK’s worst-off children are white British

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