LONDON: The head of three Muslim schools that are ranked top in England in terms of pupil progression says he wants to help working-class white children too.
Government data released last week revealed that the best three schools for pupil improvement are all Muslim, based in inner cities and run by a not-for-profit trust called Star Academies.
Hamid Patel, its chief executive, is responsible for more than 25 other schools across the UK, many of which are aimed at Muslim students.
Following his success in inner-city locations such as London and Birmingham, he is turning his attention to schools in deprived coastal areas where, unlike many of his schools, most of the pupils are white.
Star Academies has already begun working to help these schools and their students. In 2016, it took over Highfield Leadership Academy in the town of Blackpool and Bay Leadership Academy in the town of Morecambe, when both were performing exceptionally badly.
Patel acknowledged that for these schools, “sustained improvement will take time, but we hope … to take on other schools which have been struggling for many years in communities along the northwest coast of England.”
He said he is distraught by the lack of progress for white working-class boys in coastal areas compared with more diverse inner-city areas, particularly given the existing inequalities in the UK.
“There is no doubt a white child has advantages. You only have to look at the statistics on employment, average pay, the prison system and even life expectancy,” he said.
“This underlines how severe our issues are with white working-class boys that despite the inherent advantages, they do so badly,” he added.
“Only one in seven white working-class boys will pass their GCSE in English and maths. That is a national disgrace.”
The countrywide statistics support Patel’s concerns — 37 of the 100 worst schools for pupil progress are in majority-white coastal areas, but they only make up 13 of the 100 best, with none making it into the top 10.