Rapid progress was being made by children from Chinese, Bengali and Indian backgrounds, while white working-class boys, in particular, were struggling, according to Sir Mike Tomlinson, the former head of Ofsted.
In controversial comments which will raise questions about the focus of Government funding, Sir Mike said that white working-class parents failed to place the same value on education as their ethnic minority counterparts.
As a result, poor white children have low expectations of what they can achieve, leading to lack of effort and low results.
"We are seeing every ethnic group progress rapidly – Chinese, Bengali, Indian," said Sir Mike. "The results that are being achieved are higher and this has improved the numbers applying to university and entering professions such as medicine, veterinary science, law and accountancy.
"A very high value is placed on education among many ethnic groups, compared with white working-class families. There seems to be different value systems at work."
Wasn\’t it Orwell who wrote of the British working classes suspicion of education?