The under-achievement of white working class boys in England is well documented. They are the lowest academic achievers at the age of 16 for any socio-economic class grouping (Sutton Trust, 2016), with only 24% of them achieving 5+ A*–C GCSEs (DfE, 2014).
It would be expected that any measures proposed to alter the situation would be welcomed. However two leading public schools have turned down gifts worth more than £1million for scholarships for poor white boys.
Sir Bryan Thwaites, 96, wanted to leave the money to Winchester School and Dulwich College because he had attended both on scholarships.
Sir Bryan, a Professor in Mathematics planned to help poor, white students because research has shown that they are among the lowest achievers in education. The offer was apparently refused for fear it would break equality laws.
Last year a scholarship at Cambridge University, funded by singer Stormzy, offered financial support for black British students.
Sir Bryan told The Times: ‘If Cambridge University can accept a much larger donation in support of black students, why cannot I do the same for under-privileged white British?
‘Winchester said it would harm its reputation by accepting my bequest, but in my opinion it would gain enormously by being seen to address what is the severe national problem of the underperforming white cohort in schools.’
Sir Bryan, who was a leading university professor, wanted to give £800,000 to Winchester in Hampshire and £400,000 to Dulwich in south London.
A Winchester spokesman said: ‘Acceptance of a bequest of this nature would neither be in the interests of the school as a charity nor the interests of those it aims to support through its work.’
A spokesman for Dulwich College said: ‘Bursaries are an engine of social mobility and they should be available to all who pass our entrance examinations.’