February 4, 2021

Key statistics

  • The demography of the pupil population in state education in England shows that it is more diverse than the broader population.The same is true for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • The 2016/17 GCSE grades data for England show that there is disparity in attainment between different ethnic groups: Chinese and Indian pupils were the most likely to achieve A* to C in maths and English; meanwhile, Black Caribbean, Pakistani and Gypsy and Irish Travellers were the least likely to achieve A* to C grades in maths and English.
  • The 2016/17 data show rates of permanent exclusion continue to be a significant issue for Black and Gypsy and Irish Traveller pupils compared to other ethnic pupil groups.
  • Recent Prevent policies targeting radicalisation have been criticised for producing highly racialised surveillance of Muslim and South Asian pupils, threatening the relationships between local communities and schools.
  • The 2016/17 data show that White British people continue to be over-represented in apprenticeship schemes compared to ethnic minority people. In contrast to apprenticeship schemes, ethnic minority pupils disproportionately enter further or higher education. Ethnic minority groups constitute 26% of all undergraduate students in England. However, they are less likely to attend Russell Group Universities, with the Black group particularly under-represented.
  • The 2016/17 data show that all ethnic minority groups are less likely than White students to receive a ‘good’ (2:1 or first class) degree.(Taken from Ethnicity, Race and Inequality in the UK – State of the Nation, 2000, pages 93–94, click here).

The Rampton Report (1981):West Indian Children in our Schools – 80 recommendations

The 1981 Rampton Report was a direct response to the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration’s 1977 report on ‘The West Indian Community’.The Select Committee’s report noted there was a ‘widespread concern about the poor performance of West Indian children in schools’ (See p. 1). In 1979, a committee was established to explore the needs of children from all ethnic and racial minority groups, with priority being given to children of West Indian origin. Chaired by Anthony Rampton OBE, the ‘terms of reference’ for this inquiry were to:

• Review in relation to schools the educational needs and attainments of children from ethnic minority groups taking account, as necessary, of factors outside the formal education system relevant to school performance, including influences in early childhood and prospects for school leavers

  • Consider the potential value of instituting arrangements for keeping under review the educational performance of different ethnic minority groups, and what those arrangements might be.
  • Consider the most effective use of resources for these purposes; and to make recommendations.The main finding of the Rampton Report was that ‘West Indian children as a group are failing in our education system’ and that ‘urgent action’ was needed to remedy this (See p. 70). In doing so, the following were identified as the drivers of so called ‘poor performance’ and ‘underachievement’:
  1. ‘In the eyes of many West Indians the major cause of their children’s underachievement is racism and its effects in school and in society’.
  2. ‘In the pre-school field, provision for the under-fives in terms of day care and nursery education, has long been acknowledged as inadequate and those facilities which do exist are generally inappropriate to the needs of West Indian families’.
  3. ‘The linguistic difficulties of West Indian pupils and particularly the “dialect interference” from which they are said to suffer, have often been mentioned as factors in their underachievement’.
  4. ‘Within both primary and secondary schools the inappropriateness of the curriculum and the books and teaching materials used to the needs and backgrounds of West Indian pupils has been cited as a cause of their lack of motivation and commitment to the work and their consequent underachievement’.
  5. ‘West Indians have claimed that low expectations of their children on the part of both careers teachers and careers officers lead to the children being discouraged from aspiring to the full range of post-school opportunities available. Discrimination is still widespread in the employment market and the levels of unemployment amongst West Indians is dispropor tionately high. Both these factors may have a demotivating effect on West Indian pupils in schools and discourage them from achieving their full potential. Schools need to do far more to prepare their pupils for adult life’.
  6. ‘The lack of understanding by schools of the social and economic pressures faced by West Indian parents, and the failure of some West Indian parents to appreciate the par t which they must play in supporting schools and teachers in the education of their children’.
  7. ‘Teachers are the key figures in our education system.Teachers and head teachers are the moving force in developing and implementing a multicultural approach to the curriculum.Their training, both initial and in-service, needs to inform and sensitise them to the particular needs and backgrounds of ethnic minority groups and give them an understanding of the theory and practice of a multicultural approach to education’.
  8. ‘We are convinced that the absence of ethnically-based statistics throughout the education system has contributed to the lack of positive action at both national and local level to identify and seek to remedy the underachievement of West Indian pupils’.
  9. ‘We have identified no single cause for the underachievement of West Indian children but
    rather a network of widely differing attitudes and expectations on the part of teachers and the education system as a whole, and on the part of West Indian parents, which lead the West Indian child to have particular difficulties and face particular hurdles in achieving his or her full potential’.

The Rampton Report also identified the following as having a role to play as ‘agencies of change’: central government, the DES, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate, local authorities including local education authorities, the Schools Council, trade unions, Examining Boards, teacher training institutions, school governing bodies, the Commission for Racial Equality and local community relations councils.To bring about change, the Rampton report put forward recommendations relating to:

  1. Pre-school provision.
  2. Reading and language.
  3. The curriculum.
  4. Books and teaching materials.
  5. Examinations.
  6. School pastoral arrangements.
  7. Links between schools and the community, including parents, school governors andsupplementary schools.
  8. Special provision, such as ‘educationally sub-normal’ schools.
  9. Suspensions, exclusions and disruptive units.
  10. Preparation for adult life.
  11. Teacher education.
  12. The creation of advisory services.
  13. Recording statistics.
  14. Funding.

The Swann Report (1985):
Education for All – 74 recommendations

The 1985 Swann Report (1985: vii) sought to build on the findings of the Rampton Report. In fact, the Swann Report had the exact same terms of reference (see above) as the Rampton report and was co-chaired by Anthony Rampton OBE.The main conclusions of the Swann Report were that (See p. 768):

  • ‘IQ is not a significant factor in underachievement.’
  • The resulting deprivation, over and above that of disadvantaged Whites, leads in many instances to an extra element of underachievement.

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