Dulwich College
Image: Noel Foster / Wikimedia Commons

Colleges reject scholarship aimed at ‘disadvantaged white boys’

Two top private schools have rejected a £1 million scholarship donation intended for poor white male students.

Philanthropist Professor Sir Bryan Thwaites, 96, a former student of both Winchester and Dulwich colleges, intended to leave the money in his will.

However, both schools rejected the money for fear of breaching anti-discrimination laws.

Sir Bryan intended to bequeath £400,000 to Dulwich and £800,000 to Winchester in his will.

He stated that he wants to help white boys from disadvantaged backgrounds because they perform worse at school than their counterparts from any other ethnic groups.

He believes that the scholarships would help to address “the severe national problem of the underperforming white cohort in schools,”, The Times reported.

According to BBC analysis, 40% of boys gets a strong pass of grade 5 or above in maths and English, nearly 7% lower than girls.

Approximately a third of poor children from white British backgrounds pass their maths and English GCSEs, with young white boys the least likely to hold both awards.

Former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission Trevor Phillips has stated that this group are “today’s education left-behinds”.

Sir Bryan attended Dulwich until the start of the Second World War, before going on to Winchester.

According to his parents, it would have been impossible to afford his fees without the aid of scholarships.

He is now looking for state schools to accept his offer.

Approximately 1/3 of poor children from white British backgrounds pass their maths and English GCSEs, with young white boys the least likely to hold both awards

– BBC Analysis

Dulwich headmaster Dr Joe Spence said the college was “resistant” to donations “made with any ethnic or religious criteria”.

He said: “Bursaries are an engine of social mobility and they should be available to all who pass our entrance examinations, irrespective of their background.”

A spokeswoman for Winchester College said: “Acceptance of a bequest of this nature would neither be in the interests of the school as a charity nor the specific interests of those it aims to support through its work.

“Notwithstanding legal exceptions to the relevant legislation, the school does not see how discrimination on grounds of a boy’s colour could ever be compatible with its values.

In response, Sir Bryan cited the rapper Stormzy, who established a Cambridge scholarship solely for black British students.

Sir Bryan said: “If Cambridge University can accept a much larger donation in support of black students, why cannot I do the same for underprivileged white British?”

An analysis of admissions figures in February 2019 found that more than half of England’s universities have fewer than 5% poor white students in their intakes. It was also revealed that fewer than a fifth of universities have admissions targets for this group.

Former Education Secretary, Justine Greening has said that such revelations should serve as a “wake-up call”.

“We need new ideas, including on student finance, to make sure more white working class students have a fair chance to get into university,” she said in response to the figures.



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