New figures showing Gypsy and Traveller children are the least likely to succeed at school of any ethnic group, have been described as shocking by UKIP MEP James Carver
Mr Carver, who represents the West Midlands, is calling for an urgent review to tackle “this poorest of low achievement” across primary and secondary education.
He said: “Whilst people have rightly drawn attention to aspects of discrimination of various ethnic groups from these figures, and highlighted the socio-economic factors that play a part, little has been said about the two groups at the bottom of every league table.
“Not only do Irish Travellers and Gypsy/Roma children figure last in each standard measured, they are almost off the scale, way below all other groups, most of whom are separated by only a few percentage points.”
The figures have been compiled for the Government’s new Ethnicity Facts and Figures website which was trumpeted at its launch this week by the Prime Minister as an “essential resource in the battle to defeat ethnic injustices”.
Mr Carver said: “Theresa May says this Race Disparity Audit of public services will challenge society to ‘explain or change’ disparities in how people from different backgrounds are treated.
“If that aim is to be met, the huge disparities between the Traveller and Gypsy communities and all other groups must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”
Mr Carver, who is the grandson of a Romany Gypsy, said it was “extremely worrying” that in 2016 not one Traveller or Gypsy schoolchild achieved 3 A grades or better at A level.
The next lowest group were black students with five per cent, followed by Asians with 10 per cent, white British and mixed race both 11 per cent and, way out in the lead, Chinese students with 24 per cent.
Mr Carver said: “All the way through their schooling, starting with the percentage passing their phonics test, these children are being left behind, and in GCSE maths and English only 10 per cent of Gypsy/Roma children and 21 per cent of Irish Traveller youngsters achieved A*-C grades.
“When you consider the next lowest group, flagged as a cause for concern, were black children with 59 per cent achieving the standard, you realise how far behind they are.”
Traveller and Gypsy children are also less likely to continue into further or high education, are more like to be excluded from school and have a higher absence rate.
“The Government says this audit presents us with a real opportunity to make transformative change in tackling persistent race inequality.
“We must then seize that opportunity to address this dire situation now before another generation of children is failed,” he added.