Written evidence submitted by Clementine Stewart



House of Commons Education Committee Inquiry Submission

‘left behind, white working-class pupils’


The following points are based on the questions posed to serve as a guide for any submission to the inquiry. This has been submitted based on my role as Vice-Chair of Governors at Langford Primary School, part of United Learning Multi Academy Trust. The school was last inspected by Ofsted in December 2018 and is considered to be ‘Outstanding’. It has some of the highest rates of progress in the borough and serves a mixed catchment area with high levels of deprivation.


  1. The challenges that white working class pupils face:


Langford data: Across the school, 77% of White British children are working at age-related expectation but remove those with complex SEND concerns and it is 90%.


  1. The extent of underachievement for white pupils who are eligible for FSM (free school meals), and how well the DfE's statistics (including Progress 8 measures) capture that:


  1. How your school and/or Academy trust supports students from white working-class backgrounds:  


  1. The effects of COVID-19 on this group: 


  1. The impacts of underachievement, both for individuals and communities:  


  1. What should the Government’s priorities be in tackling the achievement gap between disadvantaged white pupils and their peers:


NB: None of the above is targeted specifically at white working-class pupils, but there is plenty of evidence that all of it will support better outcomes for this group as well as others.


Final Thoughts

The Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service (Hampshire Local Authority), EMTAS, created lots of resources targeted at language development and subject-specific vocabulary acquisition to support EAL children, but found that the other group most positively impacted by the work were white, working class boys.


This would indicate that language and vocabulary play a huge part in supporting attainment for this group, and therefore needs a strong focus centrally. This could take the shape of resources, research and support for teacher delivery, but it needs to be embedded from the very start, with support for parents as they start to raise their own families.


This also needs to be done in a non-judgemental and supportive way and can be as habitual as other aspects of early support around development and health. It can be done with local groups, parent workshops, making resources free and easy to use, and linking families with schools early on, so that they can fully understand a child’s educational journey before it even begins.


Finally, you cannot place too high an importance on the acquisition of language and the ability to communicate using effective language skills. There is a great deal of research that shows the link between low income households and the lack of language skills seen in children, so damaging that the gap is already wide by the time a child starts school. Meaningful research, investment and development in this area would have a huge impact on the long-term life chances of this group of learners.



Clemmie Stewart

Governor – Langford & Wilberforce Partnership


November 2020