Page last updated at 18:51 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

'Deep ethnic segregation' mapped in England's schools

Classroom
Segregation is decreasing overall, say researchers

Pockets of deep segregation are revealed in a mapping of the ethnic make-up of England's schools.

University of Bristol researchers show that in Manchester, fewer than 1% of pupils of Pakistani origin are at schools which have a white majority.

It also shows changes - with the number of white primary school pupils in London falling by a quarter since 2002.

The project's director says the overall trend is for more pupils to mix - with segregation "constant or decreasing".

The Measuring Diversity project at the Centre for Market and Public Organisation provides an ethnic breakdown of pupils in local authorities in England.

Changing populations

This shows both the numbers of different groups and also the extent to which they might meet by attending the same schools.

The project's website shows the great variation in the school population across the country - with some areas in which white pupils remain the overwhelming majority and others which are much more diverse.

In Hull, there are no primary schools which are defined as "minority white" - in which less than 30% of the school population are white.

In contrast, in London the number of white minority primary schools has risen from 22% to 36% between 2002 and 2008.

This reflects that the number of white pupils in London primary schools has fallen by about a quarter in six years - and only about 6% of primary schools now have a substantial white majority.

The figures, taken from the annual census of state schools, also reveal patterns of divided communities - with pupils much more likely to attend school with people from their own ethnic group.

In Oldham, about 80% of pupils from the sizeable Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities go to schools where they will meet few white pupils.

In Camden, north London, more than three quarters of Bangladeshi pupils go to mostly non-white schools.

In the same borough, only one in six white pupils go to schools in which white pupils are a minority.

But Simon Burgess, director of the centre at Bristol University, says that the overview of the statistics shows that there is no increase in segregation.

"The overall pattern is that segregation is either constant, or decreasing," he says.

Professor Burgess wants the information on local areas to inform the debate about diversity and make-up of communities.

"It is a common saying that people's attitudes are strongly influenced by their school days. So the peer groups that children play with, talk to and work with are important factors moulding their perspectives on society," he says.

"The extent of ethnic diversity in schools is an important issue of public debate. This website provides some facts to enlighten this debate."

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said that schools were obliged to "promote community cohesion through twinning, sports and art to equip young people to live in a multicultural country".



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