Ethnicity and educational achievement

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Lilly
  • Created on: 23-04-13 17:23

Ethnicity Patterns and trends

Ethnicity: People who share common history, customs and identity, as well as in most cases language and religion, and who view themselves as a distinct unit- Lawsons and Garrad

Patterns of ethnic achievement are complex, cross cut by gender and class, for example:

  • Black, Pakistni and Bangladeshi students do thw worst. Indians and chinese do ebst
  • White students are very close to the national average, but this is because they are the majority of the population
  • Among black and WC students, girls do better than boys, but among asians, boys do better than girls
  • Asian boys do better than Asian girls
  • WC Black girls do better than WC White girls
1 of 9

External explanations

1) Cultural factors / cultural deprevation

a) Language

b) Family  life

2) Material deprevation

2 of 9


  • Some Asian households, english not first language used- PSI study found that the lack of fluency in english was a significant problem for some groups. Amongst men nearly everybody spoke english fluently. Amonst woen about 1/5th of Pakistanis and Bangladeshi were not fluent
  • Bowher- 'the education of the coloured immigrants'- lack of standard english creates a huge barrier to education
  • HOWEVER, Gillborn and Mirz (2000) point out that the very high attainment of Indian pupils suggests that having English as an additional language is not a barrier to success
3 of 9

Family life

  • Driver and Ballad- South Asian parents have high aspirations for their children's education despite having little formal education themselves
  • Pilkington- believes there is strong evidence that the cohesiveness of Asian families may assist in the high educational achievement of some Asian grpps and that African Caribbeans may have family cultures that are not as conductive to educational support
  • HOWEVER- AO2-  Gillborn and Mirza- research shows that Africa-Carribebean pupils receive greater encouragement to pursue further education than other ethnic groups
  • Recent research suggests that white WC students are among the lowest achievers with very low aspirations
  • Lupton- found that teahers reported poorer levels of behaviour and discipline in white WC schools- teachers blamed this on lower levels of parental support and the negative attitude hite WC parents have towards education, by contrast many ethnic minorities see education as a route to upwards social mobility
4 of 9

Material deprevation

  • Flaherty- Pakistani and Bangladeshi are 3x more likely than whites to be in the poorest 1/5 of the population
  • Africans, Pakistanis and Bangladeshi are 3x more likely to be unemployed than whtes
  • 15% of minority groups live in voercrowded homes, only 2% for whites
  • Swan report- Social class differences account for a high proportion of differences in achievement between ethnic groups

-Lack of room, money and resouces- can't afford educational toys, materials- achieve less

5 of 9

Internal Factors

1) Racism

2) Teachers expections and perceptions

3) Cirriculum bias and ethnocentrism

6 of 9


  • Gillborn and Youdell- research shows that racism continues to play a major role in the underachievement of ethnic minorities in the education system
  • They argue that expectations held by black students were low, through system of educational triage, they were systematically denied access to the sets, groups and exams that would allow them the best grades
  • Blair et al- marked lack of black role models in English schools and a specific lack of ethnic headteachers
  • HOWEVER- AO2- Smith and Tomlinson- founds schools to be tolerant of ethnic groups. OFSTED found that exclusion dor Indian, Bangladeshi and Chinese students is lower than for white people per thousand
7 of 9

Teachers perceptions and expectations

  • Teachers have lower expectations of black boys, they are labelled as trouble makers and are seen as disruptive. Gillborn- this negaitve labelling leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy in which they become disruptive and low achiving
  • HOWEVER- AO2- MAC an Ghail- found there wasn't a direct link between teahcers perceptions and underachievement - in his ethnogrpahic study of a Midlands 6th form college, he found that the way that students perceived and responded to schooling varied considerably and was influenced by their ethnic group, gender and previus school
  • HOWEVER- Fuller- study of black girls found that they rejected attempt to be labelled negatively and devoted themselves to work in order to be succesful
8 of 9

Cirriculum bias & Ethnocentrism

  • Subjects such as english lit, history and RE have been accused on being ethnocentric- focus of these subjects are the achievement of white christian people
  • national cirriculum does not include black history  and foreign languages taight are primarily European, where other langauges are taught as extra-cirriculum
9 of 9


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Education resources »