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Friday, 27 October, 2000, 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK
Minority pupils 'failed by system'
two girls in classroom
The survey tracked school results of ethnic groups
Children from ethnic minority backgrounds are being left behind as educational standards rise, research has found.

The study suggests that while all the major minority groups are getting better results than ever, white pupils are still ahead - leaving some minorities trailing even further behind than they were a decade ago.

We need genuine action if the education world is serious about including everybody in the standards agenda

David Gillborn, Report co-author
The report, Educational inequality: mapping race, class and gender, was commissioned by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), following the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.

The achievement gap between 16-year-old white pupils and their Pakistani and African-Caribbean classmates has doubled since the late 1980s, the research revealed.

While black children often started school better prepared than any other group, they appeared to fall behind as they progress through the education system.

Indians do well

The only exception was among Indian pupils, who were found to have overtaken their white classmates over the past ten years.

Co-author of the report, Dr David Gillborn from the Institute of Education said schools and education authorities must show greater willingness to implement policies leading to equality and inclusion.

"Post-Lawrence there is a clear public commitment to race equality.

girl in classroom
Black children are often the best prepared for starting school
"This report shows that we need genuine action if the education world is serious about including everybody in the standards agenda," said Dr Gillborn.

There was no evidence to suggest there was anything inherent in minority groups which made them perform better or worse.

For each of the principal groups, there is at least one local authority where those children are gaining the highest GCSE results, Dr Gillborn stressed.

Social class and gender

The research also examined the impact of class and gender on pupils' achievement and found that inequalities relating to race and class were much greater than those relating to gender.

"The gender debate has diverted attention from the major inequalities in our education system.

"If you are from a working class home and African Caribbean, Pakistani or Bangladeshi, the chances are that you will not do as well as a white pupil in the same position, regardless of whether you're a boy or a girl," Dr Gillborn said.

Middle-class black children were the lowest attaining middle-class group, with a 38% chance of achieving five high grades at GCSE - less than working-class Indians (43%) and only a little better than working-class whites (34%).

'Institutionalised racism'

The Commission for Racial Equality said the report confirms what it had been warning of for many years.

Senior policy adviser to London mayor Ken Livingstone and long-time race equality campaigner, Lee Jasper said the report shows the extent of "institutionalised racism" in state schools.

It is wrong to put this down to racism among teachers

Nigel de Gruchy, NASUWT
But general secretary of the National Association of School Masters Union of Women Teachers, Nigel de Gruchy said it was wrong to put the blame on teachers.

"I've no reason to believe this problem is worse in schools than in society as a whole.

"It is wrong to put this down to racism among teachers," he said.

The government admitted more must be done to address the issue, but welcomed the news that the educational achievement of ethnic minority pupils is rising.

The results of the study refer to state schools and were based on statistics submitted by 118 local education authorities and data from the Youth Cohort surveys of 1988, 1995 and 1997.

The minority groups surveyed were: Black African, Black Caribbean, Black other, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi.

Chinese pupils were not included for the purposes of the study, as many children in this group attend private schools, Dr Gillborn added.

The BBC's James Westhead
"The gap between black and white children is getting wider"
Tony Sewell, School of Education, Leeds University
"I welcome the report"
See also:

19 Feb 99 | Education
Education system racist - Ouseley
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