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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor Feyisa Demie

Lewis, K. & Demie, F. (2015). Raising the achievement of white working class pupils: good practice in schools. Review of Education 3(1): 1-21.

Author(s) from Durham


This research identifies strategies that schools have used to raise achievement among white working class pupils in multiracial schools. The methodological approach comprises case studies of schools and focus group interviews to ascertain the views of teachers, parents and children about strategies that worked to raise achievement. The study identifies a number of successful strategies for promoting the achievement of white working class pupils including strong leadership; an inclusive curriculum that meets the needs of white working class pupils; engaging parents and breaking the cycle of low aspiration; supporting pupils through extensive use of teaching assistants and learning mentors and specific support for language development. The transition between primary and secondary school was also managed carefully so that support for white working class pupils continued in a similar vein. This study also highlights that where achievement for white working class pupils was best, headteachers either had white working class roots themselves or a deep commitment to the issues of white working class communities. There were also many people from the local community working at the case study schools who were role models to children. Implications for policy and practice are given in the final section.