Education and ethnicity

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  • Created by: Tom
  • Created on: 10-04-14 16:32

Reasons some ethnic minority groups underachieve

Home Factors

Language differences

  • 60's and 70's many ethnic minority kids struggled at school as they were born abroad
  • less of an issue now - Indian, Bangladeshi and Chinese highest achieving now - English as second factor not important

Family Life

  • Tony Sewell - lack of male role models at home may lead to reduced aspirations for black boys
  • black girls work harder as may have to raise families alone
  • Archer(2003) - Pakistani + Bangladeshi boys saw education as means of becoming breadwinner - supporting relatives at home and in Asia
  • Pilkington(1997) - families of imigrant origin more likely to persuade children to stay on at school until 16
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Reasons some ethnic minority groups underachieve

material factors

  • UK unemployment for Black & Asian = twice whites
  • total family income likely to be lower in Bangladeshi & Pakistani household as women 3x more likely to be housewives
  • mother headed black families may struggle on single income
  • low income makes harder to fund extras that promote educational success
  • smaller attainment gap between FSM and non-FSM students for ethnic minority groups than for whites - suggests they find way of offsetting finanical difficulties

Innate ability

  • Hans Eysenck(1971) - American blacks had lower intelligience than whites. Challenged as black students from disadvantaged background compared to whites.

ethnocentric curriculum

  • school courses and curriculum that reflect the dominant culture and ignore others
  • Bernard Coard(1971) criticised absence of black literature, history, and music in British curriculum - lack of positive images of black people in text books - reduced engagement of non-white students
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Reasons some ethnic minority groups underachieve


  • after Coard's research school curriculums became multicultural
  • schools have community cohesion and inclusion policies
  • full time faith schools where culture of particular groups is central focus

overt racism

  • some students avoid school due to fear of racism. parents send kids to worse schools in familiar areas
  • Gillborn(1990) - racist name calling and attacks by whites on Asian students common. May have increased since London bombings(2005)

institutional racism

  • schools organise field trips or exams to coincide with religious festivals
  • Gillborn and Youdell(2000) - disproportionate number black students entered foundation GCSE's - decision based on teacher judgements = stereotyping
  • OFSTED tracks exclusions and academic results of each school's ethnic minority students 
  • pressure on teachers to obtain best possible grades from all students
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combined factors influencing school attainment

David Gillborn(1990)

  • black caribbean boys reprimanded more than Asians and whites for same offenses. Detention for behaviour viewed as challenge to authority
  • many formed subcultures opposed to school and eventually expelled
  • most teachers not intentionally racist but treated blacks differently through desire to maintain authority over group seen as difficult.
  • convincing, by a white sociologist, documents observations over 2 years, interviewed staff and students + quantifyable data from detetion books. 2008-2009 black students 3x more likely to be excluded.

Tony Sewell

  • teachers at 2 comprehensives blamed black boys culture and home life for poor student-staff relationships rather than considering themselves responsible
  • black teachers eager to repress black youth culture
  • black headmaster frequently excluded black students for Caribbean hairstyles
  • many black students were , in fact, rebels.
  • doesn't exclusively blame teachers
  • as black sociologist conducted much of research around black friends
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general ethnicity points to make

  • several minority groups, noteably Chinese do better academically than whites
  • girls outperform boys in all ethnic groups
  • large variations in attainment in Asian & black categories
  • Black Carribean boys achieve poorly but gap between them and white boys narrowed recently
  • ethnic minority students more likely to retake exams than whites
  • ethnic minority students more likely than whites to enrol in degree level courses, but at lower status universities, gaining fewer 1st class and 2nd upper degrees
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ethnicity stats

percentage boys/girls different ethnic background 5+A*-C GCSE grades, including English and maths 2010-11(DCFS and DFE publications)

  • White - boys 54.6%, girls 61.5%, both 58%
  • Indian - boys 70.5%, girls 78.6%, both 74.4%
  • Pakistania - boys 48.9%, girls 56.7%, both 52.6%
  • Bangladeshi - boys 56.7%, girls 62.7%, both 59.7%
  • Black Caribbean - boys 42.3%, girls 54.8%, both 48.6%
  • Black African - boys 52.2%, girls 63.2%, both 57.9%
  • Chinese - boys 73.6%, girls 83.6%, both 78.5%
  • All students - 54.6%, girls 61.9%, both 58.2%
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