Provocative education committee report will come as no surprise – The Guardian

In one of the most provocative sections of the government’s landmark report on racial disparity this year, it argued that education has been the single most emphatic success story of the British ethnic minority experience.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED) report stated that children from many ethnic communities largely do as well as or better than white pupils, with black Caribbean students the only group to perform less well.

It continued that over thepast half-century, new arrivals to Britain had “seized” on the “opportunities afforded” by the state school system and access to university. “The story for some ethnic groups has been one of remarkable social mobility, outperforming the national average and enabling them to attain success at the highest levels within a generation,” it found.

Now another new controversial report has warned that terms like white privilege are “divisive” and may have contributed towards systemic neglect of white disadvantaged communities, whose children persistently underperform compared with disadvantaged peers in other ethnic groups.

Repeatedly referring to the CRED report, the new publication states that the term white privilege is “used in the context of discrimination and racism and the challenges that people from ethnic minorities face”.

It raises concerns that the phrase may be alienating to disadvantaged white communities, and it may have contributed towards a systemic neglect of white people facing hardship who also need specific support.

“White privilege also fails to acknowledge the damage caused by other forms of discrimination, including antisemitism and the marginalisation of people from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller backgrounds,” it states.

The content of this latest report will come as no surprise to some. Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, who is mentioned in the report, has previously warned that schools that teach pupils that “white privilege” is an uncontested fact are breaking the law.

Badenoch has said the government does not want white children being taught about “white privilege and their inherited racial guilt”.

“Any school which teaches these elements of political race theory as fact, or which promotes partisan political views such as defunding the police without offering a balanced treatment of opposing views, is breaking the law,” she said during a commons debate on Black History Month.

The tone of both reports is in marked contrast to a Guardian investigation into race and UK education. Through interviews, freedom of information requests, testimonies and extensive research, the Guardian found

  • UK schools recorded more than 60,000 racist incidents in the past five years with the government accused of failing to meet “basic safeguarding” measures by not legally obliging schools to report racism.

  • More than 680 police officers are currently working in British schools, with most being assigned to campuses in areas of high deprivation. Their activities range from being a point of contact for teachers to more intensive interventions such as stop and search and surveillance of children suspected of being gang members, with critics saying it could have a disproportionate effect on children of colour.

  • Exclusion rates for black Caribbean students are as much as six times higher than the rates for their white British peers in some local authorities with Roma children nine times more likely to be suspended in some areas with experts calling it an “incredible injustice” for schoolchildren from minority ethnic backgrounds.

Many critics of the CRED report described it as stark, contentious and a means of igniting a culture war.

At the time, Adriana Salazar Méndez, speaking on behalf of the Black, Asian & Minority Network at Durham University, described it as an insult to all people of colour. “Today we have woken up to another instance of gaslighting and injustice to which we cannot remain silent,” she said. Today’s report is likely to provoke similar responses.