There, that’s got you reading! You’ll search long and hard to find a more explosive mix than the three things mentioned in the title of this blog. There’s been a big discussion about them in the British media recently since it’s been discovered (again) that poor white boys struggle in GCSEs and indeed all other academic tests. But which of the three is the deciding factor?

Most of the politicians and journalists on the centre-left are quick to blame inequality and class divisions as the culprits. Their solution? The usual suspect – ‘invest’ i.e. spend more money on schools in deprived areas. The centre-right talk in general terms about social fragmentation and the ‘broken society’ but bypass details. No-one seems to want to make it a race issue, including me. Statistically speaking, the racial element in this triple whammy is negligible anyway.

I would want to disagree with the class warriors and suggest that gender is key here. I’ve blogged before that our contemporary education system is increasingly biased against boys. I’ve also noticed the tendency in wider society to undervalue the role of men raising boys and initiating them into the world adulthood. If this situation is not radically altered then the trend of male failure in schools will continue unabated.

And the point is, the distinction here isn’t between some education and no education. These boys will get an education one way or another. If not at school, then somewhere else (gangs, TV, music and the web being the pedagogues of choice ). And if not by positive male mentors, then with negative role models. We had better get over the PC myth of gender-neutrality that’s infected our political and therefore educational system before it’s too late.

And I should know. Because I’m one of the white, working-class boys that the system almost failed.

Read more about this story from the Mail and the Telegraph here. Read more about how I ended up with an education here.

Image credit: dave_mcmt.