A Bradford head teacher has attacked the Benefits Street TV programme – describing it as unfair on the “white working class”.
David Jones said the makers of the controversial Channel 4 show would “find themselves in a court of law” if it had portrayed other groups in the same way.
Giving evidence to MPs, the head of Holybrook Primary School, in Greengates, and Parkland Primary School, in Thorpe Edge, rejected claims that teachers were responsible for “low expectations” of poorer pupils.
Instead, Mr Jones said his schools followed the mantra written on one wall, which read: “Down this corridor walk the future leaders of our world.”
And he told MPs: “We have this view of yob Britain, Jeremy Kyle writ large – Benefits Street, which has been on over the last couple of weeks. It depicts the white working class in a way in which, if other groups were depicted in that way, people would probably find themselves in a court of law.”
The comments came as David Cameron backed the depiction of welfare claimants on Benefits Street, arguing it showed the need to tackle “benefits dependency”.
The programme shows residents on one Birmingham street discussing their lives on social security.
As reported in yesterday’s Telegraph & Argus, Shipley Conservative MP Philip Davies has protested at the way they could “buy copious amounts of cigarettes, have lots of tattoos done and watch Sky TV on the obligatory widescreen television”.
Mr Jones was giving evidence to an inquiry by the education select committee into “underachievement in education of white working class children”.
Last summer, watchdog Ofsted warned poor white pupils were now the worst-performing ethnic group in education.
But Mr Jones accused those in charge of education of a rush to judgement without taking into account the “context” of some schools in struggling areas.
He said: “If we don’t take into account the context of a school, we won’t be able to recruit good teachers and leaders to schools that are in jeopardy.”
Mr Jones also heaped praise on his own teachers: “I feel energised by them, even though I’m supposed to be their leader, because of their commitment to young people.”
He acknowledged the price of failure was higher for working class pupils, now traditional jobs in the likes of the textiles industry had disappeared.
But he said: “I tell my teachers to aim for the moon and the stars. I don’t think low expectations come from schools.”