Socialist Worker

Anti-racism isn’t to blame for Tory education failures

Issue No. 2760

A new report by the Education Select Committee claims white working class students have been “let down and neglected”.

A new report by the Education Select Committee claims white working class students have been “let down and neglected”. (Pic: Senedd Cymru/flickr)


The Tories have discovered the terrible injustices faced by working class children. And they are very angry about them.

Or at least they are pretending to be, to fuel a different agenda.

Rich people who don’t send their children to state schools are trying a deeply cynical manoeuvre.

The Education Select Committee’s new report says poorer white children have been “let down and neglected”.

Who is working class?
Who is working class?
  Read More

But the focus is not on the class barriers that hold back all working class people, black and white.

Instead the aim is to set one group of working class people against another.

The committee chair, Tory Robert Halfon, accused the government of “muddled thinking” by failing to support disadvantaged white pupils.

He says it is a “major social injustice” and “scandal” that no attention has been paid to how white pupils on free school meals underachieve compared to black pupils.

And he claims theories of “white privilege” in education are likely to “promote disharmony”.

There is very little evidence that “white privilege” is taught in schools or dominates educational thinking.

It’s a classic effort to hide who is responsible for people being “let down and neglected”. It’s not new, because similar claims have come from both Tory and Labour politicians before.

It says white children do badly because some black children are doing better. It wants to deflect people’s anger from funding cuts, a crushingly narrow curriculum and the obsession with exams.

This hypocritical attack has to be confronted with united class anger and anti-racism.

The whole concept of the “white working class” is fake. The working class is black, Asian and white. And it is oppressed and exploited by the elite.

The key dynamic is not the slightly different experiences of sections of the working class. It’s the difference between the experience of children of the rich and those of the working class.

The Tories ramp up racism
The Tories ramp up racism
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Children who are on free school meals do worse than those who are not eligible for them. Does that mean the slightly better off are the enemies of the poorest? Not at all, their interests are in winning an education system—and a society—which enriches them both.

Theories of “white privilege” are right to point to racism in society. But they don’t identify the system that produces it.

Fighting racism is in the interest of all working class people, black and white. It is a necessary part of uniting workers against the rich.

Only a united resistance can overturn a racist, unequal system.

The class who went to Eton and other private schools think workers are stupid and can easily be fooled.

We should show them we will not accept this outrageous attempt to divide us.


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