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WHITE HEAT: racism, under-achievement and white working-class boys

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Disciplines
  • Education
  • Linguistics

Abstract

The article examines students' experience of inner-city education in one of England’s most disadvantaged areas. In particular, we reflect on the views of white working class boys, a group that has recently been identified by policy-makers and the media as especially at risk of educational failure. These young people recognise the educational disadvantage they face on a daily basis, made explicit in a tangible lack of resourcing and institutionalised through selection systems (like banding and setting). These injustices are re-worked through the students' perspectives, taking cues from national and community racist discourses of white victimhood. In this way the white students view their educational and class disadvantage as a Ôrace' issue. We conclude that this is an important but largely unrecognised way in which racism continues to work through a system that, despite changes in rhetoric, refuses to engage with the reality of racism as a deeply rooted and defining characteristic of the education system.

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