Working class white boys in Birmingham are being left behind in exam results at a time when all other ethnic groups are making great progress.
In a bid to turn the situation around the council’s education department is drawing plans to prevent the boys doing even worse in the race to gain qualifications and skills.
While children from many other minority ethnic backgrounds, including Bangladeshis and African-Caribbean, have improved performance over the last decade, working class white boys, those getting free school meals, have failed to match their progress.
According to the council’s cabinet member for children, young people and families, Coun Les Lawrence, the level of white working class boys achieving five GCSEs at grades A* to C has ‘‘stubbornly’’ remained at 29 per cent for the last three years.
Meanwhile overall attainment in Birmingham schools has been creeping up, with 86 per cent of pupils in Birmingham schools gained five A* to C grades at GCSE in 2011.
It is thought the decline in traditional manufacturing and labouring jobs may have led to a ‘‘lack of aspiration’’ among white boys from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Meanwhile, following concerted efforts to raise attainment among other groups, performance is on the rise. Results for black Caribbean boys has risen by six per cent to 45 per cent and 50 per cent of Somali boys achieved the grades, up 14 per cent on the previous year. In the Bangladeshi community boys getting the grades have risen by 29 per cent over five years to 63 per cent.
At all levels and groups girls out-perform boys.
Coun Lawrence (Con Northfield) said: “The performance among white working class boys has levelled out, we have arrested the decline, but the performance needs to start going up. I believe we are at a tipping point.
“The general level of aspiration in many communities constrains what a school can do. There is a far greater influence from the wider community. We need to regain that focus on a sense of achievement,’’ he said.
“The low skilled manufacturing jobs are no longer around and we have only replaced them with service jobs. It is an issue we have as a society, not just schools.”