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Source: Department for Children, Schools and Families

Recent criticisms of the education system have noted the poor performances of white boys who receive free school meals—a standard benchmark of poverty—and have tended to point the finger at teachers. Such comments may be valid as far as they go, but they fail to consider the staggering variety in results for other ethnic groups.

The table to the left shows the latest performance figures for male pupils on free school meals at GCSE level, including English and mathematics. The differences in performance between different ethnic groups are huge, with more than three…

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