The majority ethnicity in Britain is white British

The majority ethnicity in Britain is white British

Some people have more than one ethnicity; they might be Welsh/Chinese or English/African. The majority ethnicity in Britain is white British. People who do not fit into that group are said to belong to an ethnic minority. There are many ethnicities in Britain. The majority of the I-J population in 2001 was White (92 per cent). The remaining 4. 6 million (or 7. 9 per cent) people belonged to other ethnic groups. It has been known for a long time that different ethnic groups appear to have differing rates of attainment in the education system.

Although some writers such as HAJJ Essence and the geneticist, James Watson have claimed that there are differences in ability between various ethnic groups and ‘races’, the evidence for this view is very poor indeed. Intelligence tests are often culture bound; it is difficult for someone to succeed In a test not designed for their culture. No ethnic group is naturally less capable than any other although we can identify patterns of achievement associated with ethnic groups. There is a general concern about the achievement level of Black minorities.

For example, there is data to show that they are far more likely to be permanently excluded from school than other ethnicities. It was not until 2003 that the government first published statistics showing GEESE pass-rates across different ethnic groups. Statistics show that Indian, Chinese, and African-Asian pupils consistently have higher levels of achievement than other ethnic groups across all the Key Stages. In contrast, Black, Pakistani, Bangladesh and Gypsy/traveler pupils consistently have lower levels of attainment than other ethnic groups across all the Key Stages.

It is important to recognize that there is significant individual variation in achievement within each group. Many Black Caribbean and Bangladesh pupils will excel and some Chinese pupils will fail. However, official results published in November 2007 show that Black pupils are closing the educational gap at GEESE. The numbers of Black Caribbean pupils achieving five good Gases has shown almost double the national increase, meaning that the gap has narrowed by eight percentage points in four years.

An interesting fact about the current education system is that the worst performing group (in terms of achieving five A*-C grades at GEESE) is white working-class boys. If some Black children are underachieving in education then this raises questions about the education system and also Black British culture. Is the education system institutionally racist? Is the failure of some ethnic minorities due to cultural factors such as poverty and deprivation? Is the education system institutionally racist? African-Caribbean have the highest exclusion rate, three times the rate of white pupils.

Bourne et al (1994) explain this as White teachers feeling threatened. Others suggest it results from behavior that stems from frustrations of racism. In schools there is an under-representation of Black teachers who account for just 1. 5% of the profession (7% in London). In 2007 the Reach group called for more positive role models from within Black boy’s own communities consisting of lawyers, doctors and teachers. Tony Swell (1997) identified peer pressure and street culture as a key factor o explain why many Black-Caribbean pupils’ achievement declines through secondary school.

He sees the high number of boys who grow up in female single-parent families as a factor, and points out that this makes boys vulnerable to negative influences of peer pressure and street culture. Boys are attracted to a culture of masculinity which undermines the value of schooling and education qualifications. M;artic Mac an Gail (1988) illustrates this attitude with his description of the ‘Roasts’ who arrived late, disturbed other students, interrupted teachers, tried to cause arguments and talked incessantly.

Critics of Swell and Mac an Gail argue that they ignore a racist ethnocentric hidden curriculum, prejudiced teacher attitudes and racist policies of the educational system. Smith and Tomlinson (1989) studied 2,400 pupils aged 1 1-16 years from a range of ethnic groups who attended 18 multi-ethnic comprehensives. They found achievement levels varied enormously, suggesting that schools could make a significant difference to children of all ethnic groups. When looking at schools, Andrew Politicking (1999) argues research should centre around two key questions.

Is there evidence of racial discrimination in the allocation of pupils to sets/streams? Is there evidence of racial discrimination by teachers in their classrooms? Cecil Wright (1992) researched four inner-city primary schools and found evidence that teachers treated ethnic minority children differently from White children. David Gilligan (1990) found something similar in secondary education. He believes underachievement amongst ethnic minority groups is due to racism.

Gilligan and Yodel (2001) found evidence that racism is still a key factor in educational underachievement. In a study of two London schools they found lack children were the lowest achieving group when they left school after Gases despite being the highest achieving group when they started. Working- class and black pupils were more likely to be allocated to lower sets than middle class children doing work of the same standard. They were also less likely to be entered for higher tiers of GEESE.

Tremor Phillips of the Committee for Racial Equality in 2004 said that many Black parents want separate classes for Black pupils in state schools. Some African-Caribbean parents suggest the creation of ‘Black schools’ to foster a positive image of Black identity. Equally the Muslim community argues that education for their children should be based on Islam. They point out that ‘mainstream’ religious schools (Anglican, Roman Catholic and Jewish) receive government aid and so it is discriminating to refuse the same aid to Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus.

A fear of Islamic fundamentalism appears to have dampened this enthusiasm, but interest in Faith Schools has been revived in the Education White Paper (2006). Mood et al(1 997) pointed out that the ethnic groups with the poorest achievement levels – Bangladesh, Pakistanis and Black-Caribbean – tend to be located within the working-class. On the other hand, the relative success of the Indian ethnic group and African-Asians can be explained because they are often located within the middle-class.

Research by Cannes and Kingdom for the Joseph Renowned Foundation, (2007) identified the key characteristic of low achievers as coming from disadvantaged backgrounds (qualifying for free school meals), living in areas of high unemployment, and having single parents who themselves have poor qualifications. Government statistics show that 70% of Bangladesh pupils and almost 60% of Pakistani and Black African pupils live in the most deprived postcode areas compared to less than 20% of White British pupils.

Pakistani and Bangladesh pupils are also more likely than other groups to live in households where the head of household has never worked or is long term unemployed. Access to free school meals is viewed as a good indicator of deprivation and a close relationship exists between free school meals and underachievement. Two-thirds (66%) of Gypsy and Traveler pupils are eligible for free school meals in primary schools compared to 18% of all pupils. There are also higher than average proportions of Bangladesh, Pakistani, mixed- ace and African-Caribbean pupils who are eligible for free school meals, across primary and secondary schools.

Richard Brotherhood (1998) used data produced for the Family Resources survey and discovered that Indian, Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladesh groups were very vulnerable to poverty. Incomes are low, and often only one partner works. If there are a number of children, this results in child poverty. He discovered that after basic needs had been deducted from income, there was less money available than in White households. There is a strong belief that parental interest is important in raising standards n education. In 1997, a White Paper, Excellence in Schools was published.

This set out three routes for parents to become more active participants in schools: providing information, become ins parent governors and feeding back to inspectors. Disgorges (2003) for the Defies suggested that parental involvement is more important than class in terms of educational attainment. However, others argue there are limits to the degree to which parents can become involved in their children’s education for reasons such as poverty, depression, low literacy skills, inappropriate support from schools. Language has been an area researched by sociologists to explain differential educational achievement by ethnic groups.

In some Asian households English is not the main language. However, Cannes and Kingdom (JAR, 2007) found that not speaking English at home was only ‘a short-lived handicap’, overcome by most pupils by the time they attended secondary school. However, Mac an Gail (1988) found that the ‘Creole’ or ‘patois’ spoken by African-Caribbean could cause problems; either through causing misunderstandings for them or not being understood by teachers. A number of sociologists have suggested that the nature of family life affects achievement among ethnic minorities.

The New Right has criticized single- parent families – a common family type within the Caribbean community. Writers such as Murray and Saunders have suggested that Caribbean have a family life that is denominating to boys who grow up without a father-figure. In addition, the New Right point to the fact that large numbers of Caribbean mothers work full-time and unsocial hours. This inevitably results in practical problems of time and money in supporting their children’s education and could be a factor in poor Caribbean achievement in school. Dizzied et al. 1988) found great enthusiasm for educational success in the African-Caribbean community. They encourage Of ‘Saturday schools’ which are typically found In every city with a sizeable Black population. These are schools organized by black community. Within the South Asian community, especially the Indian and African-Asian group, education is seen as a ‘positive resource’ that helps gain access into the professions and upward social mobility. Parents have high aspirations for their children’s education, and parental encouragement and expectations may well be a major contributory actor towards their children’s success.

Batik (1999) found that many Asian parents valued education but they had very little understanding of the systems by which schools are run. They found schools unwelcoming and unsupported. The children experienced racism, but the schools did not deal with it effectively. There was little interest in Asian culture in British schools and little positive acknowledgement of the cultural differences. It follows therefore that sociologists have a difficult task in isolating and quantifying any link between low achievement in schools and ethnicity.

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