Wednesday, March 10, 1999 Published at 16:22 GMT
Schools 'failing ethnic minorities'
Schools are reluctant to monitor attainment by ethnic group
State schools in England still need to do far more to identify and meet the needs of pupils from ethnic minorities, according to a report from the schools inspectorate, Ofsted.
Ofsted undertook the study because of the continuing high rate of exclusions and lower-than-average attainment among children from some ethnic groups.
Inspectors looked at the attitudes of 48 schools in 25 local authority areas which had a significant percentage of pupils from four focus groups: Bangladeshi, black Caribbean, Pakistani and gypsy travellers. They also went to 34 other schools known to have good practices in educating pupils from ethnic minorities.
It is a follow-up to a study published by Ofsted two years ago, which showed that certain ethnic minority groups were failing to keep up with the general rise in educational achievement.
The new report says not much has changed: schools could be doing much more to target improvements in standards amongst ethnic minority pupils and should put greater effort into monitoring their results.
"We cannot afford to ignore them," he said. "Nor can we, as a nation, ever be satisfied with an education system which fails any sector of the community.
"This report confirms not only that significant minority ethnic groups are not being enabled to fulfil their potential but that, within those groups, boys are generally doing worse than girls.
"Many thousands of pupils, notably black Caribbean boys, are therefore facing double jeopardy. When you add the inner city dimensions, the odds are brutally stacked against them. Schools can and must make a difference."
"It can alienate rather than include," he said. "Many schools have led the way in tackling racism.
"Schools need the support of parents and the community generally in countering this evil. Sadly they have yet to see a lead from the government of the Teacher Training Agency."
"It is profoundly unhelpful to have foolish charges levelled by individuals who are keen to catch the falvour of the month. No progress will be made unless this persistent culture of blame is abandoned."
The leader of the National Association of Head Teachers, David Hart, said his union "categorically" rejected any assertion of institutional racism.
"Such unfounded allegations make no positive contribution to solving a longstanding and highly complex situation," he added.
The Schools Minister Charles Clarke restated the government's intention to eradicate differences in academic achievment between whites and some ethnic minorities.
The proportion of Bangladeshi pupils rose from 25% to 33% while the performance of Indian, Chinese and other Asian pupils continues to outstrip that of white pupils.
Five GCSEs at grades A to C were achieved by 54% of Indian pupils and 61% of Chinese and other Asian pupils in 1998, compared to 47% of white pupils.
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