Education
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A recent report appears to have confirmed what Twitter eggs in their swathes have rabidly insisted all along: it is actually white people who are systematically oppressed in the UK.

According to a new study, white British pupils are being overtaken at school by students from twelve other ethnic groups by the time they sit their GCSEs. But given the subsequent reporting, you'd be forgiven for failing to realise they are not by any means the only group being failed by the British education system.

'Betrayal of white pupils!' squawked the Daily Mail, despite the fact that black Caribbean, Pakistani and mixed raced children of white and Caribbean descent trail behind them, along with children of Irish traveller and Roma heritage. The headline alone almost makes it seem the betrayal of some children matters more than others; a depressing but not by any means surprising conclusion.

The selective panic over this supposedly homogenous group who aren't even performing the worst out of their peers makes it very clear who is considered a national priority and who is not. The failure of Mahnoor should be as bothersome as the bad grades of Matthew, but the framing of this issue couldn't suggest anything further from this.

It's as though non-white Brits aren't really considered Brits at all and as a country, we have no vested interest in their achievements or lack thereof. They're posited as the illegitimate children of a nation, banished to a proverbial attic only to be wheeled out for the odd Prospectus photo. Brit-ish, but not British.

People generally abhor 'making things about race' – unless of course, it gives them an opportunity to lament the apparent state of white Britain.

Daily Mail
Daily Mail's front page on the reportDaily Mail

What also jars about the ongoing response to the report is the sudden, widespread willingness to finally acknowledge something as a 'race issue', proving that the country's disdain for discussing race seems to conveniently dissipate when focusing on the struggles of white individuals.

Similar, but for some reason less Earth-shattering stories on the plight of black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) students in education have also hit the papers in recent years: white students are more likely to be awarded a 2.1 than their BAME peers.

Black applicants continue to have the least accurate grade predictions, which largely dictate what universities they will be able to apply to. And despite being more inclined to go to university, ethnic minority students are still less likely to win places than white students.

But these reports are often met with bored shrugs at best and a 'pull up your bootstraps and your trousers whilst you're at it' finger point at worst. Sure, outrage was expressed at these cases – not at the content of the reports however, but at the fact concerned parties were once again shirking their own shortcomings by 'making things about race'. Evidently, people generally abhor 'making things about race' – unless of course, it gives them an opportunity to lament the apparent state of white Britain.

But there is still an issue regarding the report that is more pressing than flagrant hypocrisy and selective outrage. What many fail to notice is that this troubling news for white students is also troubling for minority students, too, in yet another way.

The academic achievement of minority students is not translating where it matters most- outside of the classroom

Because despite it now being proven that they perform better than their white counterparts at school, the picture painted of post school employment for BAME students is particularly bleak. In an already saturated job market, ethnic minority graduates are far less likely to be employed than their white peers after graduation.

To add insult to injury, many can expect to earn less than them for years afterwards. Chinese students, who come top of the damning report, are between 10% and 15% less likely to be employed than white British graduates. And these figures concern the privileged minority who make it to university in the first place; more generally, BAME youth are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than their white counterparts.

Education exists primarily in order to facilitate employment – white students may fall at the first hurdle but somehow sail past BAME students as they fall at the last. The academic achievement of minority students is not translating where it matters most – outside of the classroom. So whilst many white British students are failed by the education system, everyone else is failed by what comes after – and for some reason that matters less.

This is no new scandal, or at least not for non-white students. The British education system is just one of the many systems that has been letting down our children for years – all this report has truly highlighted is that we only really care about the failure of a select few.


Yomi Adegoke writes about feminism, race and the intersection between the two.