‘White working class suffer from class privilege… that’s why they hate the idea of white privilege’: Actor Eddie Marsan says UK needs more grammar schools and Stormzy-style scheme to help poor white pupils out of poverty
- Ridley Road star Eddie Marsan, 53, said they should be seen as a distinct group
- He called for universities to set up quotas and to create more grammar schools
- It comes after a report found white working class children were most deprived
Actor Eddie Marsan has said white working class children are suffering from ‘class privilege’.
The Ridley Road star, 53, said they should be seen as a distinct group with issues that need to be fixed.
He called for universities to set up quotas for them and said he would be in favour of a Stormzy-style scholarship scheme for white boys and girls.
Meanwhile the actor called for the government to launch more grammar schools to boost their education.
It comes after a report last year found white working class children were the UK’s most deprived pupils.
Researchers found they were being left behind at school, face a lifetime of economic hardship and are hit hardest by the pandemic.
The Ridley Road star (pictured on the show), 53, said they should be seen as a distinct group with issues that need to be fixed
Marsan, who starred in Sherlock Holmes and War Horse, claimed he had benefited from white privilege but also suffered from class privilege.
The actor said playwrights Arnold Wesker and Harold Pinter helped him realise grammar schools could help.
He told the Times: ‘I think we have to acknowledge the white working class are suffering from class privilege.
‘And, probably, that’s why they have an aversion to the idea of white privilege because they think it’s really hard for us as well. But the two can exist at the same time.’
Marsan said his background stemmed his education, having not read his first book for fun – The Diary of Adrian Mole – until he was 16.
Marsan, who starred in Sherlock Holmes and War Horse, claimed he had benefited from white privilege but also suffered from class privilege (file photo)
He told how he wanted to do his A-levels but when he told his father he told him he needed to get a job.
He added: ‘You have to acknowledge that the white working class are an individual social group, that their needs and their problems need to be addressed.’
Marsan was born in Stepney, Tower Hamlets, east London, to a lorry driver father and dinner lady mother.
They moved to Bethnal Green and he went to Raine’s Foundation School before leaving aged 16.
He went on to work in a printers before moving into theatre and attending drama school.
The actor said he would be in favour of a scholarship for white working class pupils similar to singer Stormzy’s (pictured in the summer) Cambridge University one for black students
Marsan was asked how universities should deal with a smaller proportion of white working class people applying.
He said: ‘I would do a quota. I don’t know how you would but I would.’ He added bosses should set up a system for these people like the ones for ethnic groups.
The actor said he would be in favour of a scholarship for white working class pupils similar to singer Stormzy’s Cambridge University one for black students.
Dulwich College and Winchester College refused to set up scholarships for poor white children worth £1.2million.
They said they could not attach a racial element to any bursary after enquiries by mathematician Sir Bryan Thwaites.
A report last year found white working-class children are being left behind by the school system and face a lifetime of economic disadvantage.
But it said help to raise educational standards is often targeted at ethnically diverse areas and pupils from minority backgrounds.
The research, submitted to the Commons Education Select Committee, revealed white pupils eligible for free school meals are half as likely as their peers from poor ethnic minority backgrounds to achieve strong passes in the eight GCSEs used in school league tables.
They are also more likely to attend a failing school and live in struggling communities in the North and Midlands.
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