[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Saturday, 10 May, 2003, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
Summit on black pupils' results crisis

By Colin Joseph
BBC Radio 5 Live Community Affairs Specialist

Black pupil
Black Caribbean pupils did worse than other black students

The crisis of underachievement by black school children is to be discussed by government ministers, education experts and parents on Saturday.

Over 2,000 people are expected to attend the conference in central London, which is the second of its kind to be organised by Hackney MP Diane Abbott.

It comes only months after government statistics showed black pupils are still more likely than any other ethnic group to be excluded or fail their GCSEs.

Speakers will include Schools Minister Stephen Twigg, Commission for Racial Equality chairman Trevor Phillips and the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone.

Mr Phillips said: "They are the only group where the actual level of performance relative to the average declines during their school career.

"That's why we're facing a serious and chronic crisis."

'Solutions'

Ms Abbott, who will chair the event, is calling on the government to set up a national strategy to raise the achievement of black children.

I would like to see a scheme where parents of excluded children could be trained to teach their children at home
Paul Phoenix

She said: "I have been meeting with ministers and will continue to raise the issue of a national strategy at the highest level.

"At this conference we want to look at the solutions and get parents more involved."

Ms Abbott said it was worrying that black schoolchildren do as well, if not better than other ethnic groups when they start school, but by the age of 16 "this progress has collapsed".

'Grassroots input'

The event will also see the launch of a Greater London Black Parent and School Governor Network, which delegates will be invited to join.

Pupils at St Martin-in-the-Fields High School for Girls
Just 30% of black pupils get five GCSEs at grades A to C

The network will be used as a voice for members to lobby local and national government and also to help develop solutions to the problem.

Paul Phoenix, co-ordinator of Black Parents in Education, said parents need to get more involved with teaching their children.

He said: "I would like to see a scheme where parents of excluded children could be trained to teach their children at home.

"This is a problem which has been going on for over 30 years and I believe that without grassroots input from parents, under-achievement amongst black pupils will continue."

Mr Phoenix said a "real gamble" faces black parents when they send their children to school.

He said many were "filled with dread about receiving what is becoming that inevitable phone call from the school saying your child has been suspended or is failing to achieve".

Pass rates

The latest government report showed black pupils were over three times more likely to be excluded from schools than their classmates.

A breakdown of last summer's GCSE results in England was published last month - the first time statistics showed pass-rates across ethnic groups.

Only 30% of black students of Caribbean origin achieved five good GCSE passes.

The best performing ethnic group was the Chinese, with 73%. White pupils were at 51%.

Negative stereotype

Edmond Poru, 18, from south London, was expelled from his secondary school when he was 15.

He is now studying for five GCSEs with the help of the Boyhood to Manhood Foundation - a self-development programme based in Peckham.

Often when pupils don't do well at school it's because there are problems in their personal life which some teachers don't seem to be that bothered about
Edmond Poru
Black teenager

Mr Poru said he had been held back by a lack of support and a negative stereotype of black schoolchildren held by some teachers.

He said: "Often when pupils don't do well at school it's because there are problems in their personal life which some teachers don't seem to be that bothered about.

"I'm now hoping to pass my GCSEs, but it's only because I've got support from people who understand me and are willing to believe I can achieve."




SEE ALSO:
Action for ethnic minority pupils
04 Mar 03  |  Education
Black students' results fall back
20 Feb 03  |  Education
Black students 'fewer top degrees'
17 Feb 03  |  Education


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific