Harlow Labour leader praises Vic Goddard for views on “white privilege” education report

General / Wed 23rd Jun 2021 at 11:27am

THE LEADER of the Harlow Labour Group has praised the head of Passmores Academy for his response to an education report headed by Harlow MP Robert Halfon.

Councillor Chris Vince said: : “Once again Harlow’s MP has shown he has no understanding of how schools work and certainly doesn’t understand the enormous amount of pressure that teachers continue to be under. However, I thank YourHarlow for once again interviewing Vic Goddard and speaking to someone with a wealth of experience in education and also a wealth of common sense.

Although it may be true to say that white working-class students are underachieving in schools anyone who has seen the number of black working-class students in lower ability sets in secondary schools will also know that they too are being let down by the current education system. In fact it isn’t a question of ethnicity which is the issue but in fact of poverty and deprivation which is sadly more prevent, but not exclusive, in what we would consider more traditional working-class communities. An issue which has been increased by the Harlow MPs own government and a decade’s worth of cuts which mean that per pupil funding is at an all-time low.

To single out ‘white students’ in the way the Harlow MP has done, whether he is paraphrasing a report or not, is extremely dangerous, trying to create a racial divide and tension, while giving excuses to students not to try their best. ‘There’s no point trying, everyone knows working class white students do badly at school.’ This is a sweeping statement and one which at best is unhelpful and at worst causes division. Although hardly surprising considering his party’s track record of doing just that.

Vic is of course right to say that this is not a new issue and one that successive governments have failed to tackle. One of my work colleagues was criticising the last Labour government’s views that ‘everyone’ should go to university and although I initially tried to tow the party line I recognised he, and in fact Vic, make a valid point about the need to value those jobs and professions which do not require a university degree as highly as those which do. Vic is correct to say that those students who leave school as rounded individuals, with a trade and with a work ethic, are as valuable to our society as anyone and ought to be applauded. For all his talk of apprenticeships the Harlow MP has failed to truly applaud this country’s vital tradesmen and keyworkers who during this pandemic have kept the country going.

However, let’s be clear this issue has been made considerably worse by the actions of this Tory government. Cuts to schools which mean that many schools are being forced to cut more practical and more expensive subjects, cuts to youth services and ideological attack on the teaching profession which means that recruitment and retention is at its worst. These cuts have a greater effect on children from lower income families who are unable to afford personal tutors or other resources which schools would have previously provided. Many young people who would excel at practical subjects are now having no or little access to them. I have a friend who is a technology teacher who told me of the number of schools he’s visited who don’t provide this at all as they can’t afford the specialist equipment. This leaves students who are more suited to practical subjects let down by the Dickensian style education system sadly favoured by Michael Gove. One thing the report did mention but didn’t talk about enough was the gender divide. The narrowed curriculum has a disproportionate effect on boys than girls, although this is a generalisation and not a rule.

When Labour does come to power it will have a huge task rebuilding this country’s broken education system where your children have been let down by over a decade of Tory neglect. However, providing the next generation with a well-rounded education, which provides not only academic but practical skills, and applauds their success rather than condemning failure, must be at the forefront of what we do.

The next Labour government will recognise that all children, no matter their ethnicity, their gender or their social economic background deserves the same opportunity to succeed and work hard to make sure that happens.

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9 Comments for Harlow Labour leader praises Vic Goddard for views on “white privilege” education report:

paul henderson
2021-06-23 14:50:56

Our MP, Robert Halfon has been a champion of Harlow, a champion for education with great emphasis on apprenticeships and vocational training and skills. It might help if Chris Vince actually took the time to read Robert Halfon's comments. His comments regarding the label of 'white privilege' are absolutely spot on and will resonate with many decent people in this town. For far too long, we have allowed a self-appointed, self-opinionated, condescending 'politically correct' clique to dictate how we speak and think. It is like living in a Stalinist State or an Orwellian nightmare. This pernicious current has permeated all areas of life and is highly visible in our educational system and in the ever shrinking Labour Party (which in part explains their disastrous electoral performances. People feel alienated by these intrusions . It is time for good sense to prevail and to stem and eradicate this arrant nonsense. Equality is about treating people as fellow human beings regardless of ethnicity. We must strive for a meritocracy where all are given the opportunity to succeed and achieve their aspirations. Robert Halfon's observations are sound and welcome. He is in tune with the people.

Danny Long
2021-06-23 15:12:21

Things would of been ten times worse for the under privileged white students of Harlow and the UK if Harlow had a Labour MP and if this country was governed by the the Labour party. Once again well said Robert and we'll to the Harlpw conservative group now the Harlow administration party, for knocking the Labour party off their perch in last month's local elections.

Pete Bowman
2021-06-23 17:59:53

This suggests that while Chris Vince is correct that poverty is a important factor, the fact remains that poor white children are less likely to go to university than any other group. As a maths teacher, Mr Vince will appreciate that there are statistics in this area and they, rather than our presuppositions, should inform us. UCAS publishes some interesting data here: https://www.ucas.com/data-and-analysis/ucas-undergraduate-releases/ucas-undergraduate-analysis-reports/equality-and-entry-rates-data-explorers Yes, all poor and deprived children underachieve and deserve help, but it still a fact that poor white children do worst of all. If you go to the "Entry rates by equality dimension" chart and choose "Ethnic group", each dot represents a "privilege" classification including school type, free school males, sex and POLAR3 quintile - but it's clear that there is a concentration of green dots at the bottom left of the chart (representing the lowest rate of university entrance). Chris Vince also said there's a gender divide. Interestingly, if you choose "Sex" for the same chart, it's clear that the divide isn't anywhere near as great as it is for white vs other groups. It isn't a case of racism: we want everyone to do well and reach their full potential, but pretending that facts aren't facts isn't going to help.

2021-06-23 22:51:26

Thank god labour arent in power!

gary roberts
2021-06-24 06:05:09

The Labour party is this, the Labour party is that, forgetting that nationally the Conservative party have been in office for eleven years. It would be good to know what Mr. Halfon actually knows about education attainment in this country despite wearing the badge of "chair" of the parliamentary committee of the same name. An expert in the field of education was appointed by this Conservative government to advise on "levelling up" the provision of education attaintment and was then ignored when he gave the facts rather than the rhetoric on the current state of the service. I smiled at the ignorance of running a story suggesting that the white working class pupils had been failed for decades by the system: It is called poverty and sadly affects every pupil not just the white working class pupils. If we are not careful you know we might get school children singing a nationalist song every morning along the lines of North Korea. Oh sorry that has already been supported by the Education Secretary Mr. Williamson: you couldn't make it up!

paul henderson
2021-06-24 09:09:36

Gary Roberts, the only thing reminiscent of North Korea is the insidious woke brigade that have infiltrated all our institutions, including education, censuring freedom of expression and thought to achieve their sinister agenda.

V. Khazminkhev
2021-06-24 20:53:18

The comment section is here screaming Brexit supporters... You lot are fucking mental if you think censorship is a bad thing?! Comparing the banishment of a word to a Stalinist state is absolutely and horrendously offensive. Do any of you know what it was like to grow up in a communist nation?! I do. And let me tell you how free you are in the UK. You don’t have to worry that armed soldiers will come to your home in the night and take you away. You aren’t imprisoned for speaking your mind. You have the right to protest, without fear of being shot or gunned down. You have the freedom to choose the way you live. The very fact your country voted for Brexit - is a testament to how free you all are - even free to make stupid choices... You’re all fucking ignorant if you even think the UK is in anyway shape or form similar to that of a nation I grew up in. Shame on you all for being so blind to see how free you really are... greedy bastards.

paul henderson
2021-06-25 08:41:36

Dear V. Khazminkhev, I think we are moving off topic slightly. However, as a student I spent time in several of the former Iron Curtain countries: Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Romania. It was an eye opening experience and certainly dispelled any thoughts on the 'Socialist Utopia'. It was a picture of complete neglect, repression and hopelessness. People existed to survive. They could not travel freely, there were police and troops everywhere, people were kind, but fearful of being seen talking to foreigners. Romania was particularly authoritarian and hideously corrupt. Even southern Yugoslavia was barbaric and brutal away from the tourist haunts. I have since visited the Baltic States which are deeply scared by the Soviet unlawful occupations. Of course, we have never experienced anything similar and it is a pleasure to see how these countries have transformed and eradicated all traces of the horrendous communist past. However, our freedoms are fragile and can never be taken for granted. They need permanent vigilance from those who seek to impose alien and unwelcome standards on us. Furthermore, as to Brexit, Harlow was one of the strongest Leave voting areas. Democracy finally prevailed even though many in Parliament and elsewhere sought to frustrate and override the free and democratic choice. Protecting freedom and democracy is never easy.

V. Khazminkhev
2021-07-09 01:31:22

Paul, I am glad you understand how life for me was growing up. During the 90, troops would drive around the local town and kidnap individuals at random. Days later, their corpses would be found, perhaps in a school car park or chained up to a light pole. I am deeply concerned that the UK is full of idiots who only say things to sound like they are concerned when they’re not. Harlow being a Brexit supporter region is no surprise, most people from Harlow are knuckle draggers who in most of the time remind me of the local folks I knew from 90s Eastern Europe. Ignorant, blinded by hate and anger and constantly demonising anything different. I pray nobody here has to learn the smell of a body, learn the effect of a Kalashnikov bullet or anything along those lines. I am in my late 40s, and I am still having therapy for my experiences. I am blessed to live in the UK and experience true freedom and yet most of your countrymen are so blind to see that the criticisms they have would be enough to get you killed where I come from. It’s sad but not surprising.

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