Poor primary school boys are struggling to keep up with their richer classmates in the basic subjects, official figures show.
Just over half of 11-year-old boys (52.6 per cent) from the poorest homes reached Level 4 – the standard expected of the age group – in English and maths this year. In comparison, nearly three quarters of boys (74.7 per cent) from wealthier backgrounds reached this target.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the figures were "unacceptable" and the poorest boys are being "let down" by the education system.
In total, almost 16,000 boys who are eligible for free school meals – a measure of poverty – did not meet the standard required. The statistics, published by the Department for Education, show that poor white boys are the furthest behind, with just 50.1 per cent reaching Level 4 in both subjects.
Some 56.4 per cent of poor black boys reached the same standard, along with 57.6 per cent of poor boys from mixed backgrounds, 62.9 per cent of poor Asian boys and 66.1 per cent of poor Chinese boys.
Overall, the figures show that 55.8 per cent of poor boys and girls reached Level 4 in English and maths, compared to 77.1 per cent of their richer peers.
Mr Gibb said it was not acceptable that these children were still not reaching the standard in English and maths they needed to flourish at secondary school.