‘Shocking’ levels of failure among Protestant teens
Protestant teenagers growing up in working-class areas of Northern Ireland are under-|performing in society, new |research has revealed.
Young males are the worst under-achievers, with Protestant boys less likely to do well in exams or go to university than their Catholic counterparts.
Just one in 10 young Protestants currently at school will go on to further education, compared to one in every five young Catholics from a similar background, according to the report.
The findings were put together by a working group of teachers, academics and community activists, led by independent MLA Dawn Purvis.
Chairman of the working group, Mark Langhammer, said the results were “absolutely shocking”.
“It doesn’t surprise me but it is hard to take in nonetheless,” he said.
“Schools attended by Protestant children do tend to be socially segregated. If our suggestions don’t bring about change then whoever the new Education Minister is will need a serious look at themselves. We’ve been careful not to produce a wish-list of demands, but to pick some systematic issues that could be put in place without excess cost.”
The research comes almost a year after the group launched a public consultation on under-achievement by Protestant males from disadvantaged families
It calls for the Executive to introduce a child poverty strategy and encourages parents to get involved in their child’s education from a young age.
The research also suggests the immediate creation of a single education authority and increased funding for early years schooling.
Ms Purvis said she hoped the consultation would be a “positive contribution to bring about real change”.
“Report after report has highlighted the fact that educationally we fail too many of our children, that a high proportion of those live in inner east Belfast and that the country’s most dominant non-progressor group was working-class Protestant boys,” she said.
“While the statistics point to Protestant males being the worst off, they are not the only group our education system fails, our findings are being presented in such a way that they can be extrapolated for other groups facing the same problems.”
Lack of positive male role models and a traditional emphasis on manufacturing careers in the Protestant community are among the factors to blame, according to the report.
She added that some teens do not value education because of how it is perceived by their families and peers.
The report is part of a long history of research into under-achievement in the Protestant community. In 2008 the Education Minister said that 52% of Protestant boys were not achieving at least 5 A* to CGCSEs, compared with 48% of Catholics. A survey in 2008 found a cluster of under-performing schools in mixed or predominantly Protestant wards.