A “competitive” education system and an “elitist curriculum” do not help address the underachievement of white working class pupils, MPs have heard.
Conversations about issues like “white privilege” and “toxic masculinity” could further alienate them.
Academics told MPs the white working classes faced a “status deficit” as the national conversation had become “much more consumed” with other groups.
They said these pupils were “stuck” in terms of their achievement at GCSE.
The Education Select Committee was taking evidence on Tuesday about the issue of white pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds being left behind.
Matthew Goodwin, Professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent told the committee terms such as “toxic masculinity” and “white privilege” could “become more of a problem as we send yet another signal to these communities that they are the problem”.
Asked why white boys and girls in poorer communities performed worse than peers from different ethnic backgrounds, Prof Goodwin said a number of “cultural” factors were likely to play a part.
“What is it that’s happening outside of the school environment, that’s happening perhaps not only within the family but within society, that is sending these kids the message that higher education or pursuing further education is not for them?
“And that, for example, I would argue, speaking quite candidly, is reflected in our national conversation, which gives these kids what I would call a status deficit – that over the last 10 years our national conversation has become much more consumed with other groups in society.