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Research reveals Black Caribbean pupils discriminated against in schools

Research published by the British Educational Research Association has revealed that Black Caribbean, Pakistani, Black African and Bangladeshi pupils are less likely to be entered into higher-tier mathematics and science tests than their white counterparts. The results were derived from a quantitative study of 15,000 14-year-olds by Warwick University.

Further investigation revealed that prior attainment at age 11 could explain why Pakistani, Black African and Bangladeshi pupils were less likely to be entered by their schools for the higher-tier tests at 14. However, the different test-entry pattern for Black Caribbean pupils could not be attributed to performance at 11. No other factor could justifiably explain different test entry advised for black pupils, which has led the author of the study to conclude that institutional racism and perceptions of black pupils behaviour are to blame

Dr Steve Strand, author of the study, commented: “After accounting for all measured factors the under-representation is specific to this one ethnic group and indicates that, all other things being equal, for every three White British pupils entered for the higher tiers only two Black Caribbean pupils are entered.”

The research has confirmed that black pupils are discriminated in the education system, the causes of the discrimination have been either been attributed to the perceived behaviour of black pupils or institutional racism. Black education support groups have now called for the government to take action against racism in schools.

However not everyone agrees that institutional racism is the root cause of the problem. Speaking to the Guardian newspaper Tony Sewell, an education consultant and columnist for the Voice newspaper, said “there is a link between behaviour and academic outcome. It doesn't mean that's evidence of institutional racism. It's evidence that we need to address properly the complex reasons why black Caribbean pupils behave badly. We can't just say it's white racist teachers." 

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Asif Yusuf
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