Education - Ethnicity

Educational Experience 1/2

Ethnocentric curriculum = refers to the attitude or policy which gives priority to a particular ethnic group whilst disregarding others. (the national curriculum today is based on white culture) 

There are differences in educational achievement between various ethnic groups:

  • Chinese, Indian, Asian, and White British students are generally achievers,
  • Black/Afro Caribbean, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Gypsy/Roma and the Poorest White British students are underachievers 

In the UK, Chinese and Indian children achieve results significantly above the national average, reasons for this are often factors which are outside of the educational system but factors within schools also have an impact too. Socio-economic factors explain a large part into equality of attainment - there are differences in attainment between ethnic groups among those students who are eligible for free school meals. 

Chinese students remain the highest attaining ethnic groups. Pupils of any black background remain the lowest attaining ethnic group, although the percentage making expected progress is above national average.

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Educational Experience 2/2

  • Pupils who have English as an additional language (EAL) perform on average less well than students whose language is English
  • Performance of EAL students varies by ethnic group, with more Bangladeshi and Pakistani students recorded as having special educational needs compared to Chinese, Indian and White students
  • However, EAL students generally make better progress between key stages

Schools that successfully help minority ethnic children have strong leadership and culture of achievement with high expectations and intensive support for students and close links with parents.

  • Black (82%) and Asian (85%) people are more likely to stay on in full-time education at age 16 than young white people (69%).
  • Black Africans of working class are the most likely to be currently studying for a qualification (44%) compared to 17% of white people and 24% of Indian people.
  • Bangladeshi (44%) and Pakistani (32%) adults are the most likely to have no qualifications. 
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External Factors 1/3

There is a correlation between underachieving ethnic groups and the UK's class system. Ethnic minorities that underachieve tend to dominate the working class; therefore, a lot of reasons for working class achievement can be linked to ethnic minority underachievement. Factors in and outside school impact opportunities, achievement and life chances. 

Ethnic minority students are more likely to underachieve due to:

  • Racism - staff (disciplining ethnic minority students more than white students, having more white people on staff), students (treatments of others, forming identities/subcultures;
  • Home factors: cultural deprivation/cultural capital, language deprivation, norms and values of their cultures, 
  • Material deprivation - poorer housing, parents lack education/language, incorrect uniform, 

Material Deprivation Theory: Black Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi people are more like to be unemployed and live in the poorest areas according to Browne (2015), this means that some ethnic minority groups face problems like poor housing, overcrowding, higher levels of unemployment and general material disadvantage). Also, underachievement may be due to the unemployment their parent's experience. 

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External Factors 2/3

The percentage of Indian, Asian and Chinese students eligible for Free School Meals is below average, suggesting they either don’t need to apply for FSM, their families earn enough/are dual income, or choose not to. Joseph Rowntree Foundation: 70% of Bangladeshi and 50%+ of Pakistani children live in poverty (only 20% of white and 30% of Indian children do). 

Language/cultural deprivation: For ethnic minorities, language is split into two: whether they are EAL - the language spoken at home is not English - or if English is their first language but dependent on code. (Bernstein); elaborate speech code: associated with the middle class, complex, correct grammar, context-free, providing advantages for children when this is used by teachers, and restricted language code: used by the working class, simple, limited vocabulary, context-bound, (however, not all such children underachieve). 18% of children in primary, 13% in secondary were EAL as of 2013

Lupton (2005) explored segregation and isolation experienced by ethnic minorities in nine local education authorities and found high levels of segregation for the different groups both in and outside school. There is consistently higher segregation for south Asian students than black students and most students from ethnic minorities experience more segregation in school than out. 

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External Factors 3/3

Bereiter and Engelmann (1966) argue ethnic minority students lack language used in schools, placing them at a disadvantage. The fact that English is not spoken at home in a high proportion of Bangladeshi families in the UK is linked to poorer educational outcomes. 

Family structures for Black Caribbean students affects educational achievement because they are often single-parent families with a single income to support children, parents may have less time to spend helping student with homework, negative impact of this is evident as Black Caribbean students are 3x more likely to be excluded, more black students are in Pupil Referral Units, they are the lowest attaining ethnic group

By 2016, a quarter of the prison population was from a non-white ethnic group - a relatively constant figure since 2005. Compared to the population as a whole, the non-white population is over-represented, accounting for 12% of the general population and 25% of prison populations.

Discrimination in society can be seen as a contributing factor for the lower aspiration of some ethnic groups; teaching students there is no point trying at school as the outlook for adult life is bleak. 

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Internal Factors 1/3

Institutional Racism, referring to intentional or unintentional systematic discrimination that takes place in an organisation such as school. This can take many forms, for example: not recruiting staff from a range of different ethnic minorities, not promoting staff to higher leadership positions from different ethnicities, only offering certain languages at school

Mac and Ghaill (1988) found that black boys and girls respond differently to institutional racism - girls were found to be compliant with rules but unlikely to seek engagement with the school. Boys challenged the school culture more directly, therefore more likely to be excluded, showing both genders react to institutional racism, but in different ways. Girls reactions are more discrete whereas boys openly protest. This leads to a higher percentage of black males in pupil referral units. 

Marketisation, the policy of introducing market forces of supply and demand into areas run by the state, such as education and the NHS. (1988 Education Reform Act began the marketisation of education by encouraging competition between schools and choice for parents).

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Internal Factors 2/3

Some ethnic minorities are not able to access information about schools that is made available, e.g the school brochure may only be available in English.

The poorest groups in society suffer from a lack of cultural capital that disadvantages them in terms of getting into schools through contacts and particular forms of knowledge that make students attractive to some schools.

Material deprivation in some ethnic groups means that parents are less able to arrange transport for their children to attend out of catchment schools, less able to move to more expensive areas to go to better performing schools - parents are less able to play the system using league tables.

Evans (2006) conducted research into white working class groups and found that the white working class street culture can be brutal and is often brought into the school environment. The result is a strong pressure to reject education and form anti-school subcultures. 

(Evaluation: however, they examined class, not culture/ethnicity; also it’s not necessarily the only reason for these subcultures; other students living in the same area don’t follow that pattern.)

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Internal Factors 3/3

Compensatory education, offering supplementary programs or services designed to help children at risk of cognitive impairment and low educational achievement succeed,

e.g Aimhigher - a partnership of HE institutions, schools, academies and colleges. 

  • Aims to help people from less advantaged backgrounds access higher quality education to enhance careers and inspire them,
  • committed to widening participation and social mobility, aiming to improve outreach around West Midlands where the progression of young people to higher education is low
  • The programme offers a wide range of university classes, summer schools/taster days for up to 5000 students in schools
  • Technically, Aimhigher is one of 29 consortia running the program across England, similar to the Discover scheme in Yorkshire. 
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