Geography, not race, explains the disparity in England’s educational outcomes | Alex Mistlin

London has the country’s highest proportion of Bame pupils, and also has the best schools. Public investment is key

It sounds weird to me now but looking back, I didn’t know I was black until I went to university. At every school I attended (seven between the ages of four and 18), I was one of many students from a minority ethnic background and it never occurred to me that I was less likely to succeed because of my race. Indeed, the latest government figures for England show black pupils actually have a higher rate of higher education (HE) participation than white pupils. According to the research, mixed white and black African pupils eligible for free school meals (a category I was in) were more than were more than twice as likely to attend university than their white British counterparts (40% v 16%).

While the culture wars have created a perverse demand for stories that present different identity groups as being “more oppressed” than others, the below par performance of white students, particularly those who are poor and male, has long been a popular response to the notion that racial discrimination is something that neatly disadvantages minority communities. “What about the white-working class?” the right cry.

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