Tuesday briefing: ‘culture war’ in the classroom

·7 min read
<span>Photograph: Jacob King/PA</span>
Photograph: Jacob King/PA

Top story: Labour MP claims data ‘cherrypicked’

Morning everyone. I’m Martin Farrer and these are the stories you need to read this morning.

White working-class pupils have been let down by the education system in England, with “divisive” terms such as “white privilege” contributing to the neglect, a controversial report by MPs says today. The study by the Conservative-dominated Commons education committee rejected the government’s view that poverty is solely to blame for white working class underperformance and said that while “an industry” has emerged to support disadvantaged non-white pupils, the same is not available to white pupils. But the report will ignite controversy after one Labour member disowned the conclusions and accused members of stirring a “culture war”. Kim Johnson, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, said she was unhappy with a lot of the report and said the committee had “cherrypicked data”.

The report is the latest to claim that education has been a success story for ethnic minorities. It repeatedly refers to a Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report in March that claimed children from many ethnic communities largely do as well as white children. But this is despite many other studies, including Guardian analysis, finding widespread racial discrimination in the education system.

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Euro outbreak – England footballers Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell have been forced to self-isolate after coming into close contact with Scotland player Billy Gilmour when the teams played last week. Gilmour, a Chelsea club colleague of the England players, tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday. The England pair could still play in tonight’s final Euro 2020 group game against the Czech Republic at Wembley but coach Gareth Southgate said they were “quite a doubt”. Gilmour is isolating for 10 days and will miss Scotland’s must-win game against Croatia at Hampden Park. Italy’s prime minister, Mario Draghi, has called for the Euro2020 final to be moved from Wembley to Rome because of the rising number of cases in the UK. The political fallout from the spike continued at home as the Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, described as “totally disproportionate” a decision by Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to ban travel north of the border for people from the north-west of England. In the US, deaths from coronavirus have dipped below 300 a day for the first time since last March. Read our live blog for all the latest updates.

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Voting showdown – Barack Obama says the future of the United States is at stake ahead of a crucial vote today in the Senate on voting rights legislation. The former president has backed a compromise designed by conservative West Virginia Democratic senator Joe Manchin to pass a bill that would rein in measures being introduced by Republican-controlled states to restrict voting rights.

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Policing bill – Restrictions on protests in the controversial new policing bill breach human rights laws and will increase the risk of peaceful demonstrators in England and Wales being criminalised, MPs and peers have warned. They say the police, crime, sentencing and courts (PCSC) bill contains provisions that are unnecessary and disproportionate and confer unacceptably wide and vague powers to curb demonstrations on the home secretary and police.

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Bean benefit – Coffee could help guard against developing or dying from chronic liver disease, according to the latest study to suggest the drink has health benefits. The British Liver Trust says liver disease is the third leading cause of premature death in the UK but researchers at the University of Southampton analysed data from nearly 500,000 people to conclude that “coffee drinking is protective against severe liver disease”.

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Spinning around – A “windmill” exercise rumoured to alleviate any unpleasant side-effects from the Covid vaccination, which involves swinging your arm, has gone viral on TikTok. But medical experts have warned that the vaccine “hack” is just a placebo. “It’s harmless, looks very silly and won’t do anything,” said Beate Kampmann, a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Today in Focus podcast: learning to live with Covid-19

The Guardian’s health editor, Sarah Boseley, weighs up the race between vaccines and variants and explains why the end of the pandemic does not mean the end of Covid-19.

Lunchtime read: ‘Sadness, love, hate’: Blue at 50

Joni Mitchell’s legendary album Blue was released 50 years ago and to celebrate the landmark we’ve interviewed a range of stellar musicians to ask them what they think is the best track. David Crosby picks A Case Of You from what he calls “the best singer-songwriter album” ever written. For Martha Wainwright it is All I Want, James Taylor goes for California, and Gregory Porter picks River. As he puts its, “Joni is always playing with the borders between happiness, sadness, love, hate, sanity and a breakdown”.


Few teams have ever deserved to make Euro 2020 progress as much as Denmark did on a thrilling night in Copenhagen. Players who, just nine days ago, were traumatised to see Christian Eriksen suffer cardiac arrest in the middle of their first match produced a momentous performance on the same pitch, emerging as glorious victors over Russia to set up a last 16 showdown with Wales. Gareth Southgate has told his players they must cope with the expectation of the Wembley crowd when England attempt to win Group D by beating the Czech Republic on Tuesday night. An own goal from Lukas Hradecky and a strike from Romelu Lukaku left Finland on the brink of tournament exit and needing an unlikely combination of results. Carl Nassib has become the first active NFL player to come out as gay, making the announcement in a video posted to Instagram on Monday. Jamie George believes Saracens’ British & Irish Lions contingent will make an immediate impact after bolstering the ranks in Jersey thanks to a specially tailored fitness regime at their club, with the England hooker set to be put straight into the squad to face Japan at Murrayfield.


Bitcoin stabilised in Asian trade overnight in the wake of China’s continued crackdown on the cryptocurrency and wider concern about the investment risks. Bitcoin fell as low as $31,333 on Monday and has lost more than 20% in the past six days. It is now worth less than half its April peak of almost $65,000. The FTSE100 looks like opening down slightly while the pound is on $1.392 and €1.169.

The papers

The Mirror leads on the potential threat to England’s buildup to tonight’s match from the Covid outbreak in the Scotland squad. “Euros Covid chaos”, the headline reads, while the Sun puns “Scot to be joking”. The Times leads on “Quarantine rules will be dropped for the fully jabbed”, the Yorkshire Post has “Quarantine rules ‘could be changed’” and the i leads with “Summer holidays blow for foreign travel”.

The Guardian splash is “Tory MPs accused of adding fuel to ‘culture war’ in education report” and the Telegraph has “Lord Chief Justice calls for slimmed down juries”. The Mail is furious that Boris Johnson axed a key meeting to address the care home crisis: “That’s not care – it’s cowardice” it thunders. The FT leads on remarks by a German minister about China: “Laschet warns against Cold War with China”. The Express opts for “‘Small-minded’ EU plot to ban British TV shows”.

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