Gaping omission

6th June 2008 at 01:00
It is interesting and instructive to compare white and black pupils, as shown in the graph in the final part of your GenderRaceClass series ("Mind the performance gaps", TES, May 30)
It is interesting and instructive to compare white and black pupils, as shown in the graph in the final part of your GenderRaceClass series ("Mind the performance gaps", TES, May 30). Clearly, we need to be very concerned about black underachievement, although we do know that some ethnic minority groups, such as Chinese pupils, do exceptionally well, and some white ethnic groups exceptionally badly, so that subdividing "black and white" more precisely is important too.

It is also interesting and instructive to compare boys with girls. Your graph suggests that the achievement gap has widened in recent years, although the figures end in 2004 and some schools have succeeded in narrowing the gender gap according to more recent TES reports.

Where your graph fails to make the impact that the matter surely deserves is the massive 44 per cent difference Professor David Gillborn notes between pupils at either end of his five-point social scale. This gap is larger than both race and gender gaps. Yet your graph, which shows only the largest two social groups, fails to illustrate this most dramatic example of social difference in education achievement.

As a society purporting to be just and democratic, we should not brush this under the carpet. Social class five may consist of a small percentage of the population, but we ignore them to our shame and detriment.

Barbara Curry, Education consultant and former inner-city headteacher, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire.

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