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Last Updated: Monday, 14 November 2005, 04:09 GMT
Minorities break 'class barrier'
By Dominic Casciani
BBC News community affairs

Muslim girls in science class
Motivation: Minorities encouraged by parents, says report
Young people from working class ethnic minorities tend to out-perform their white counterparts, says a report.

Research into 140,000 children over 30 years found immigrant families breaking through class barriers, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said.

Half of children from Indian working class families went into professional or managerial posts, compared with 43% of white children, it found.

But Pakistani and Bangladeshi children did worse than some white children.

Some 45% of those from Caribbean backgrounds also obtained professional or managerial posts, the study found.

The study into the success of ethnic minority children, many the sons and daughters of immigrants or born overseas themselves, looked at their lives over three decades, with the help of official statistics.

It suggested parents encouraging their children to get educated was one of the factors playing a key role in their success.

Academics at the University of Essex used national statistics to track what happened to 140,000 people born in England and Wales since the 1960s.

A disproportionate number of the young people who are upwardly mobile are the children of parents who came to this country as migrants
Dr Lucinda Platt, Essex University

The study found proportionally more ethnic minority children appeared able to do better than their parents.

The report attributed this to their parents encouraging them to stick at education.

'Under-performance'

However, those from Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities were found to under-perform compared with white children from working class families.

"The Pakistanis [tracked in the figures] were less likely to end up in professional/managerial families even when taking their backgrounds and their own educational level into account," said the report.

While there appeared to be clear educational and social reasons for the poor performance of some Bangladeshi children, said the report, it was harder to explain the lack of social mobility in Pakistani children.

The report suggested two factors played a key role in explaining success.

Firstly, children of working class immigrants tended to be motivated by their parents, a phenomenon reported in other studies.

While some immigrants initially do economically worse on arrival in a country, because only the poorest paid jobs are available, many of those who stay see their children do a lot better because of encouragement to work hard at school.

Secondly, the report suggested the upward mobility had been helped by the expansion of Britain's service industry at the expense of manual jobs - meaning there was "more room at the top" for those who aspired to reach it.

Lucinda Platt, of Essex University, the report's author, found Jews and Hindus had more chance of upward mobility than Christians.

In contrast, Muslims and Sikhs had less chance of breaking through class barriers. Children born into professional and managerial families, regardless of their ethnicity, were less likely to find themselves in less qualified work than their parents.

"Britain is still a long way from being a meritocracy where social class no longer plays a part in determining children's chances of well-paid careers," said Dr Platt.

"There is good news to the extent that a disproportionate number of the young people who are upwardly mobile are the children of parents who came to this country as migrants.

"But their welcome progress is no cause for complacency, especially when it appears to be so much harder for young people from Pakistani or Bangladeshi families to get ahead."




SEE ALSO:
Family income 'boosts attainment'
12 Nov 05 |  Education
Ethnic divide in science exposed
16 Jun 05 |  Education


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