White working-class children in disadvantaged communities are failing to perform as well as their ethnic-minority classmates because they lack the “drive” of immigrant families to succeed, the Ofsted chief has said.
Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of the education watchdog, hit back at claims that Ofsted’s inspectorate gave lower ratings to schools in lower-class communities with a majority of white pupils.
Recent Ofsted figures show that only four percent of secondary schools with a majority of white pupils received an “outstanding” grade, while almost half got Ofsted’s lowest two ratings. By contrast, 29 percent of schools where ethnic minorities were more prevalent were rated as outstanding, while fewer than one-in-five were inadequate.
“We can’t pretend that Ofsted judgments are not lower in certain areas – many of them with a high proportion of white working-class children. But that shouldn’t surprise us,” Spielman said in her keynote address at the Festival of Education on Thursday.
The Ofsted chief then suggested that questions have yet to be addressed about the wider economic factors involved. Recent years, she said, have seen “a long overdue debate” about why white working-class communities have fallen behind – a discussion not only in England but “echoed throughout continental Europe and across the Atlantic.”
“We are having to grapple with the unhappy fact that many local working-class communities have felt the full brunt of economic dislocation in recent years, and, perhaps as a result, can lack the aspiration and drive seen in many migrant communities,” Spielman added.
Michael Wilshaw, Spielman’s predecessor as head of Ofsted, took it a step further by saying white pupils’ parents simply “don’t care.”
HMCI: We report without fear or favour on the quality of education. That is not the same as saying teachers in [disadvantaged] areas are putting in less effort. There is no doubt they have a harder job to do. But ‘overall effectiveness’ is not an effort grade. #EducationFest
— Ofsted (@Ofstednews) June 21, 2018
“The reason why London schools are doing so well, apart from good headteachers and good teachers, is because a lot of the immigrant families care about education, they value education, they support their children,” Wilshaw said.
“I’m working in parts of England with white British populations where the parents don’t care. Less than 50 percent turn up to parents evening. Now that’s outrageous.”
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