The focus on tackling discrimination again women and members of ethnic minorities has had a “negative impact” on white working class boys, the shadow education secretary has said.
Angela Rayner, who left school without qualifications after becoming pregnant at 16, said there was a "lag" in achievement by white working-class pupils and that more support was needed to help them make a success of their lives.
She said: “I think it’s because as we’ve tried to deal with some of the issues around race and women’s agendas, around tackling some of the discrimination that’s there, it has actually had a negative impact on the food chain [for] white working boys.
“They have not been able to adapt. Culturally, we are not telling them that they need to learn and they need to aspire. They are under the impression that they don’t need to push themselves in the way that maybe the disadvantaged groups had to before. I think that is why there is a bit of a lag there. I think we need to do much more about the culture of white working class in this country.”
Children 'let down'
She said the attitude of migrant families towards education is “considerably different” to the culture of British families, and added: “I think that’s why white working-class boys aren’t doing so well at the moment.”
Ms Rayner added that while white middle-class families spend “a huge amount of money” moving to an area with a good school, or getting a private or grammar school education, working-class families do not always have the ability to choose.
“There was no choice for me where I was going to go and they are the children who are let down by the current system,” she said.
“Or take free schools: my parents were never going to be pushy enough to be able to create a school that I would be going to. There is a whole issue around making sure that we build an education system that actually invests the most in the areas that most need it. Places that tend to not to have so many pushy parents.”