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Last Updated: Friday, 7 October 2005, 23:05 GMT 00:05 UK
Black pupils given learning boost
Black students
The government says targeted initiatives are working
A scheme designed to reduce the persistent under-achievement of black pupils is achieving good results, the government says.

It is extending the Black Pupils' Achievement Programme to cover 84 schools in 20 local authorities.

Participating schools are encouraged to develop ideas to improve learning and behaviour and involve parents more.

Last year the GCSE results of black pupils rose the most, according to government figures.

Thirty schools with a high proportion of African and Caribbean pupils were involved in a pilot scheme which began in November 2003.

We have tried to involve their families and communicate positive feedback to them
Sir Alan Davies

School initiatives developed in the project include peer mentoring and establishing parent groups.

At Copland School in Wembley, north London, around 35% of pupils are of black African or Caribbean origin.

Sir Alan Davies, the secondary school's head teacher, said he wanted to be involved in turning around the deep-rooted under-achievement of black pupils.

"Doing that is centred around raising their self-esteem," he said.

"We have tried to involve their families and communicate positive feedback to them."

The school developed a computerised system which could communicate with hundreds of parents via instant text message.

"We know that all parents have mobiles, but they do not all have computers," Sir Alan said.

The messages give detailed feedback and information about students' progress to parents.

Sir Alan said this method was an effective way to show parents the school wanted them to be involved.

Black pupils are closing the attainment gap and our strategies are delivering year-on-year improvement
Schools minister Andrew Adonis

"We have also recruited black teachers who are good role models to pupils," he said.

He said the school had given the initiatives a very high priority - and reaching out to black parents had reaped rewards.

"We have a strong Saturday school - and black children are now a large part of it," he added.

The schools' minister Andrew Adonis said the project had been highly effective in providing examples of good practice for other schools.

And he said the government was concentrating considerable attention and resources on raising the attainment of black pupils.

"Black pupils are closing the attainment gap and our strategies are delivering year-on-year improvement," he said.

"But the gap is far too wide."

Chinese excellence

Official figures show 35.7% of black Caribbean pupils achieved the equivalent of five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C last year, a rise of two percentage points.

For black African pupils the figure was 43.3%, a rise of 2.6 percentage points.

But government figures also show that African and Caribbean pupils, and those of mixed white and Afro-Caribbean heritage, perform consistently below the national average throughout the school system.

In Key Stage 2 mathematics tests - taken at 11 years old - 64.5% of black pupils achieved the expected level, against 73% nationally.

The government's statistics show that pupils of Chinese heritage perform better than other ethnic groups at all stages in their education.

At Key Stage 2 mathematics 82% achieved the desired standard.

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