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Monday, March 8, 1999 Published at 11:10 GMT


Schools 'must do more' for black pupils

David Blunkett wants greater efforts to support black pupils

Schools should do more for pupils from ethnic minorities, says the Education Secretary, David Blunkett.

David Blunkett wants ethnic minority pupils to have an equal chance at school
"The Lawrence inquiry has made us look more closely at how our schools are serving our black and Asian communities. Many schools are doing a good job already, but clearly there is more that many could do," said Mr Blunkett in an article for The Express newspaper.

At present, he said that only 29% of black and Pakistani children achieved five or more good GCSEs, compared to 47% of white children.

[ image: After the inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, Mr Blunkett wants schools to reflect cultural diversity]
After the inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, Mr Blunkett wants schools to reflect cultural diversity
But his figures also noted that children from the Indian community were higher achievers than their white counterparts, with 51% getting five or more good GCSEs. Among children from south-east Asian countries, such as Vietnam, the figure was even higher at 61%.

Mr Blunkett said there were "encouraging signs" that the underachievement of black pupils was being tackled. "Later this month a new study will show that we are beginning to narrow the gap, although there is some considerable way to go yet."

The education secretary said that the government was supporting schools in their efforts to provide an effective education for ethnic minority pupils.

Over the next three years, £430m will be available for extra teachers, mentors and English language lessons, he said. "Although we have more to do, this is the right approach, boosting black and Asian achievement rather than token gestures."

As well calling for a greater awareness of the successes and failures of black pupils, Mr Blunkett urged schools to play a part in creating a more inclusive society.

"We must work to give genuine equality of opportunity to every young person regardless of their social class, so that no child is sold short merely because they live in the inner city."

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