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Focus on needs of London's white boys

Projects to help white pupils are being considered by the Government after complaints that they had not received distinct support.

The Department for Education and Skills will pilot a scheme in London this spring to support white European boys. It may lead to larger initiatives.

A Home Office unit called for action as it was concerned by how much white pupils, particularly working-class boys, are falling behind. Figures published by the Government last year suggest that white boys and girls who qualify for free school meals make less progress in the two years up to GCSE than any other group.

The Home Office's community cohesion unit was set up in 2001 following riots in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley. The unit's educationists held talks on improving race relations in schools.

A panel member said it had been pressing the DfES to introduce a strategy for white children as a follow-up to its Aiming High campaign for ethnic-minority pupils. But officials were hesitant because they feared it could be perceived as racist.

However, a spokeswoman for the DfES said that the department had no such fears and would be running a pilot project in London.

"Tutors will work with schools to identify successful practice in improving the standards of writing of white boys from disadvantaged backgrounds," she said.

The Commission for Racial Equality said it would support such a campaign. A spokeswoman said: "Schools and local authorites are obliged not to discriminate against children because of their racial background - not just ethnic-minority groups - particularly if they are underperforming."

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