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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 November 2007, 13:35 GMT
Black pupils' attainment improves
black pupils in classroom
Efforts have been made to improve minority attainment
The attainment of black children in England's schools has continued to improve, latest figures show.

A breakdown of this year's exam results shows a further narrowing of the gap, though black and mixed race children are still below white children.

At GCSE level, 49.1% of black Caribbean pupils obtained five good grades compared with 44.4% last year (up 4.7).

The figure for white children was 59.5%. Including English and maths the gap widened to 13 percentage points.

The gap under this tougher measure was 32.7% for black children against 45.7% for white children.

Differences

As in previous years, pupils from Indian and Chinese backgrounds performed well above national averages.

For example, just over 70% of Chinese youngsters obtained five good GCSEs including English and maths, compared with 45.4% of all pupils nationally.

And travellers of Irish or gypsy/Romany heritage did worst of all, though there were only about 500 of them covered by the statistics. Only 7% of gypsy children obtained five good GCSEs with English and maths.

Girls outperformed boys across almost all the ethnic minorities, but with considerable variation between groups.

For instance 56.2% of black Caribbean girls obtained the equivalent of five good GCSEs, compared with 41.5% of boys.

Schools Minister Lord Adonis said: "Over the last few years, our targeted programmes like Aiming High and London Challenge have helped pupils make significant progress.

"That is why we have rolled out both of these projects to ensure that no child is left behind and we give them the extra push they need."

Wealth gap

Lord Adonis said he was also pleased to see that the results of pupils eligible for free school meals were improving faster than the average.

"We want every child to benefit from improving standards, but we particularly want to close the gap for the most disadvantaged," he said.

There was nothing inevitable about black Caribbean pupils' achievement being worse than any other group of children
Steve Sinnott, NUT
But the Conservatives highlighted the way the gap between wealthy pupils and the rest rose as they progressed through school.

Shadow Children's Secretary Michael Gove said: "These figures underline our concerns that education is not promoting social mobility.

"We should be closing the gap between the poorest and the rest in our schools, but it is widening, with those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds achieving less, and dropping out earlier."

Liberal Democrat spokesman David Laws said the figures showed the education system was "riddled with inequalities".

"The Government must be disappointed with the failure to narrow the deprivation gap. [Schools Secretary] Ed Balls should now be urgently considering introducing a new funding system to target deprivation."

Steve Sinnott of the National Union of Teachers - which has produced its own report on helping black boys achieve - said the results showed that targeted additional support worked.

"There was nothing inevitable about black Caribbean pupils' achievement being worse than any other group of children," he said.

"But it is obvious that social class is the most powerful influence on pupil achievement.

"Gordon Brown must now set a date for achieving his target of raising state school spending to private school levels and within that make the top priority raising spending on youngsters from socially deprived backgrounds."

Primary school shifts

In the Key Stage 2 national curriculum tests at the end of primary school, 81% of all white children attained the expected level in English.

Among Chinese and Indian children it was 85% while among black Caribbean children it was 74%.

But these statistics for younger children also show demographic changes.

Among the GCSE group - mostly aged 16 - there were 8,282 children from black Caribbean backgrounds and 11,240 from black African families.

At Key Stage 2 there were 8,328 black Caribbean 11-year-olds, suggesting a static population group.

But there were 14,319 black Africans - an increase of more than a quarter. There were also several thousand more Pakistani children in the younger cohort.



SEE ALSO
Black pupils still lagging behind
23 Nov 06 |  Education
Ethnic minorities improve at GCSE
24 Feb 05 |  Education
Black girls overtake white boys
24 Feb 04 |  Education

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