The House of Commons Education Committee has reported on the forgotten status of White Working Class in education. In 2014 and in 2021. During a seven-year period not much has changed. This group of young people continues to underperform against all groups except travelling and Roma communities.
The Opportunity Areas say things have improved there. Yet the Committee points to the huge sums spent (£108m) and the reported benefits being in narrow areas. Ten out of the twelve Opportunity Areas are largely white ethnic areas. It is also clear from the report that many other areas around the UK are struggling too.
The data is incomplete and insufficiently granular to clearly define common reasons for the problem. What is clear is that many factors contribute and have been doing so for many years. Intergenerational disadvantage, geographic inequalities, family experience of education, disengagement from school, and policy failure to engage in further education are cited as reasons for the situation.
The Committee recommends that Family Hubs are created based on their understanding of the success of one such Hub in London. This ‘cradle to career’ support model involves the whole community and several agencies. However, the report also highlights the huge differences between London and the South East with almost every other region of the UK. The Institute for Fiscal Studies found the UK to be among the “most geographically unequal countries in the developed world”.
At YouTeachMe we do not have the resources or influence of the Committee or the Government. We do have experience of helping vulnerable groups learn and making a difference to all.
For years, family experience of education has been an area of interest for us. We strongly believe that parents and carers are central to educational attainment, and more importantly to developing rounded and well-prepared individuals to contribute to the world. We share our school work with parents through YouTeachMeToo.
So what does our school work look like?
We work with schools and settings of all phases and types. In every school, parents and carers are supported to be fully involved in their child’s learning. This is possible simply because personalised video content, designed to help their child learn, is accessible at home on any device.
The response has been amazing. Parental engagement has increased dramatically, not just with homework but in increased activity at home to support learning. We’ve even had parents saying how much they have learned and grown by seeing the teaching for themselves. One parent admitted gaining knowledge of English grammar for the first time.
Children learn at different speeds.
This is accepted across the education world but it’s very hard to support. YouTeachMe uses video to deliver personalised teaching and learning. Video allowing the learner to watch, review and repeat as necessary to increase understanding and learning. Video that can be seen on any internet device including phones and smart TVs.
Although there remain a small number of households where internet access is limited or lacking, our ability to use phones and TVs (connected to a dongle) does help penetrate into homes where computers and laptops are missing.
White Working Class is a weak description and contrasts with popular political propaganda around White Privilege. The term ‘the Forgotten’ seems more appropriate since, in the intervening 7 years between reports, little has happened to make real improvement. Perhaps we need to consider the methods of intervention.
We know YouTeachMe makes a difference.
It is not the only way of teaching remotely but it is the only sustainable way to deliver high quality, equitable education to every learner (including the most vulnerable) online.
The Committee suggests spending £14m on a national infrastructure of Family Hubs. We suggest spending £14m on putting YouTeachMe in the hands of every child on free school meals (FSM) and giving each of them a designated teacher from their school to deliver personalised and differentiated teaching, anywhere.