Edited Telegraph Article

Thursday, April 14, 2011
Consider this hypothetical article (NOT genuine: Woodhead has never said the following).


Children from white families do well at school because they have "better genes", according to Chris Woodhead, the former head of Ofsted.


He said ministers should accept that some children were born "not very bright" and stop convincing themselves otherwise.

In an interview, he called for more segregation by ability to prevent average pupils dragging down more intelligent classmates.

The comments are likely to renew controversy over academic selection in the state education system.

A study last week by the Sutton Trust charity found thousands of bright children were being failed in struggling comprehensives.

Research suggested many pupils ranked among the best in the country at the age of 11 dropped back by 16 after being placed in "deprived" secondary schools.

It blamed the "peer effect", saying that top-performing pupils benefited from being educated with other bright teenagers.

Speaking on Tuesday, Prof Woodhead, chief inspector of schools between 1994 and 2000, said many black children background did exceptionally well at school.

But he insisted that some "not very bright" pupils should be taken out of the classroom and given practical training.

"I've taught, and I can still remember trying to interest, children who had no interest whatsoever in English," he said. "They didn't want to be in the classroom. If I'm honest, I didn't want them to be there either because they were disruptive to [other] children.

"What was the point? If we had had a system whereby those young people were able to follow practical educational courses that gave them a sense of worth, a sense that they weren't dull and less intelligent than others, it would have been much better for them."

What do you think about this article? Before you read on, ask yourself, what sort of response does it draw from you? What do you think of the arguments it contains, or implies?

So here's the thing. This article is a real article in which "working class" and "middle class", have been removed and replaced by "black" and "white". Here's the original.

Woodhead's attitude, if expressed about race, would be hugely shocking to almost everyone outside the BNP. We'd certainly be right to be rather skeptical about it. We'd be asking on what evidence these claims about genetic inferiority were being made. However, because Woodhead made the claims about class, an awful lot of Telegraph readers will just shrug and say, "Yes, well obviously. Glad he's got the courage to say it."

This country absolutely reeks of class bigotry. Many people have bought into the genetic inferiority line, at least implicitly, without having actually thought about it very much. There are some good questions worth asking about genetics and class and exactly how they are related. But Chris Woodhead has already made up his mind.

To my mind, Woodhead is just as odious a bigot as if had expressed those racist views.