MP condemns term 'white privilege' as "divisive and wrong"

22 June 2021, 10:36

By Fiona Jones

Former education minister MP Robert Halfon condemns the term 'white privilege' as "divisive and wrong", as a major report finds this cohort has been "neglected for decades."

Phrases such as this may have contributed towards "systemic neglect", the Commons Education Select Committee said, and schools should consider whether promoting such "politically controversial" terminology is consistent with their duties.

A report by MPs claimed that disadvantaged white pupils have been badly let down by "muddled" policy thinking and the Department for Education (DfE) has failed to acknowledge the extent of the problem.

Chair of the committee, MP Robert Halfon told LBC, "It is a national scandal. Over 900,000 pupils, white working-class on free school meals from disadvantaged backgrounds, who at every stage of the education system - right through from early years to higher education - are struggling compared to their cohorts in every other ethnic group.

"Under 18% of pupils get passes in GCSE Maths and English, and just 16% of that white working-class pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds go to university."

Mr Halfon posited that reasons for that include multigenerational disadvantaged families that are "disengaged with education", with towns often "left behind" when money "is thrown" at the big cities.

"The usual stock answer for this is that it's down to poverty, well if it was down to poverty, why is it that most other ethnic groups on free school meals who are also disadvantaged perform much better across the education system?"

He branded the concept of 'white privilege' as "wrong-headed": "What it means is collect guilt when it should be individuals that are responsible for racist acts.

"It says to a disadvantaged white person...that they are white privilege.

"It's divisive, it pits one group against the other, and it's got to be stopped. Unfortunately it's spreading from councils to Bernardo's [who] have used it in their blog as a guide to parents.

"The National Association of Teachers for Religious Education have said that children from the age of eight should be introduced to the concept of white privilege.

"We think is divisive and wrong and it needs to stop."