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Rows over ‘white privilege’ may dominate the debate over underachieving poor white pupils, but it misses the real culprit

9 13 0

Six years ago, I was asked to be an expert witness in the House of Commons for the Women and Equalities Select Committee. It was a fact-finding panel in order for the committee to think through class inequality in Britain, and I was more than happy to contribute.

I was one of four witnesses and the only working-class one – the only one in the room who had experienced class prejudice and class inequality and could speak to that – and answer questions such as what does it feel like to be working class in Britain today, and what are the consequences of that? The committee was interested in whether people’s social class should be added to the list of protected characteristics; meaning that being treated differently or being discriminated against because of your class would be against the law.

The list of protected characteristics includes age, disability, race (including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin), religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

Yet social class is still not included. It means, in effect, that the working class in Britain can be treated differently and unfairly, and deeply-held class prejudices can be acted upon. This consequent discrimination against working-class people can go unchallenged, be ignored, and remains mostly unseen as if it were normal – which it is, all day and everyday.

Another report out today also addresses social class in Britain, this time commissioned by the House of Commons Education Committee, this time about a particular group they call the ‘forgotten’ and ‘the left behind’ – poor, white, working-class pupils.

Entitled ‘The Forgotten: How white working class pupils have been let down and how to change it,’ the report argues such children are underachieving within the education system, even behind other workin- class groups from ethnic minorities. This group – termed the ‘ethnic majority’ – comprises around one million pupils.


© RT.com

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