Parents blamed for growing educational inequalities

White boys from poorer homes have been falling further behind at school in recent years, says a new report from the Centre for Social Justice think tank. The report highlights the role played by inadequate parenting associated with family breakdown, poverty and drug addiction.

The report was drawn up by a group of educational experts chaired by Sir Robin Bosher, Director of Primary Education for the Harris Federation of Academies.

Key points

  • White working-class boys are falling further behind other groups of children at age 16, despite a string of initiatives designed to boost the performance of disadvantaged pupils.
  • In England over the period 2007-2012, the gap in performance between poor white boys and the average for all pupils actually widened.
  • Only 26 per cent of white boys on free school meals gained five good GCSE grades (including English and maths) in 2012, compared with 40 per cent of black boys on free school meals and 63 per cent of all other pupils.
  • There are serious problems among some children starting school. The study quotes cases where children aged four arrive at school still in nappies, and others who do not respond to their own names or who show other signs of poor development – such as not realising that words are read from left to right.
  • Children's backgrounds and families have an enormous impact on educational outcomes. Many factors – parental aspiration, parental education, parental addiction, family breakdown and income poverty – are likely to occur simultaneously, exacerbating the disadvantages that children face.
  • There is a need for greater and more effective early intervention to prevent children from disadvantaged families suffering long-term damage to their life chances.

SourceRequires Improvement: The Causes of Educational Failure, Centre for Social Justice
LinksReport | CSJ press release | Action for Children press release | JRF blog post | BBC report | Daily Mail report | Guardian report | Nursery World report

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Publication date: 
Sep 3 2013