Black Caribbean Children Experience Significant Disadvantage in the British Education System

March 28, 2018 Education

Black Caribbean children experience significant disadvantage in the British education system. Discuss In a Guardian article (January 2002) by Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, she mentions how African and Caribbean children enter the education system doing as well as whites and Asians in tests until they reach the age of 11 when the descent begins. While some people blame gang culture and rap music for the decline of educational achievements amongst black pupils, specifically black boys, others take a different view also including institutional racism in the education system.

The education system in the united kingdom is dominated by the W. A. S. P profile ( white anglo saxon protestant) and this is prevalent in educational material used in schools and the structure and prospective of the lessons themselves. Lessons plans are lacking in the subject based required for our multi cultured society and have become substandard. Black Caribbean children in our schools are being taught a history that they have no experience of. This gives them nothing to relate and aspire to.

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This can often be one of the contributing factors to children acting out as they have no interest in what they are learning which would in turn effect exam results. For years MP Diane Abbott and black parents as well as black groups and organisations have called for more black teaching staff in schools to provide black children with positive role models. Abbott has argued that white female teachers are not use to dealing with young black boys who are usually physically bigger than white boys for their age, which can intimidate them; while others have argued that teachers perceive black boys in a negative light based on media stereotypes.

In some cases, shortcomings in the curriculum may cause underachievement and disaffection. A number of witnesses thought lessons were not always relevant, or sensitive, to young black people’s lives. Some mentioned the lack of black history or cultural awareness as a demotivating factor in the classroom. In other cases, schooling was “dull” and did not take account of “where young people are in their own development, or what is happening to them in their communities.

The stereotype that is attached to black Caribbean children leads to lower expectations from staff and peers and often builds the opinion that the student won’t work hard and succeed. In some case this causes teachers to make less of an effort with students and so they are put into the lower banded groups. This means that students are only able to get the lower grades in their exams because the maximum they can achieve is a C or in the past a D. This has a massive effect on the data collected in this field.

A report by the department for schools and education stated that a third of the most capable black Caribbean pupils were not entered to take the hardest papers when entered at 14 and that in 2007 44. 9% of black Caribbean and 47. 3 % of mixed white and black Caribbean heritage, achieved 5 or more a*-c grades, compared to 57. 3% nationally. The gap between black Caribbean achievement and the national average at GCSE has narrowed only 8 percentage points in four years.

In 2005 there twice as many black Caribbean men in prison in the UK than in university. (Curtis,P 2008) All the minority ethnic groups within the Black category and pupils of Mixed White and Black Caribbean heritage are consistently below the national average across all Key Stages, at GCSE and equivalent and Post-16. At GCSE and equivalent, 44. 9% of Black Caribbean pupils, 47. 3% of pupils of Mixed White and Black Caribbean heritage, 51. 0% of Black African pupils and 47. % of other Black pupils achieved 5 or more A*-C grades compared to 57. 3% nationally. Although the gap between each of the black and mixed groups and the average for all pupils has narrowed at GCSE since 2005, and there has been a narrowing of the attainment gap in across other key stages,this remains a significant discrepancy. In teaching there is a profile of the ideal student that is the most successful and that teachers enjoy teaching the most. This generally consists of white, middle class students in the top banded sets.

Teachers are said to enjoy teaching these “ideal pupils ” more than others and so therefore put the most effort into teaching them, leaving the least amount of effort for the lower sets. This leaves the teacher with less enthusiasm, effort and patience for the lower sets which is where it is needed the most. The stereotype for the black Caribbean student really effects them in the learning environment because of the opinions formed by teachers. Dr Steve Strand of Warick university and author of the study said ” It is widely perceived that black Caribbean pupils are move confrontational.

The question is, how much is real behaviour problems and how much is a problem between teachers and pupils. ” He goes on to say ” Teachers might say it is about pupils behaviours. Black Caribbean parents will say its teachers prejudicing against their kids. Others say behavioural issues are a response, to low expectations from teachers… to break the cycle, the best policy lever we have is with the teachers. ” If teachers have low expectations about students they are likely to live up to these expectations and create behavioural issues in class.

Researchers have uncovered evidence that teachers are routinely under estimating the ability of some black pupils, suggesting that the assumptions about behavioural problems are overshadowing their academic talents. The findings based on a survey which tracked among 15,000 pupils through their education, adds weight to the theory that low achievement among some black students is made worse because teachers don’t expect them to succeed. Once in their banded sets students create sub-cultures around education, interests or cultural background.

These groups are subgroups from the main dominant group in the school (generally the Ideal Pupils) while in these groups behavioural issues and defeatists attitudes build and teachers associate the groups with negative feeling. The students can also build negative feelings within the group regarding the education system and its prejudices which can also contribute to behaviours and attitudes towards education and themselves worsening. Although there are many contributing factors to why this issue has arisen not all of them occur in the school environment there are many arguments that tate that the reason black Caribbean children are disadvantaged in British education is due to their home life, socio- economic background and upbringing within their culture. Examples of these concerns were mentioned in an article by Matthew Cookson, in an article for Socialist Worker online, in 2005. In this article it is suggested by campaigners who marched outside Downing Street in 2005 in protest at the education system failing black children; that institutional racism has played a great part in why black children are failing.

An example of this is reflected in the exclusion rates where black boys are three times more likely to be excluded than whites. Wade Jacks, from Clapham in south London, said, “It is in secondary schools that the problems start. Teachers often see black boys as the horrid figure of a ‘black man’ that the media portrays. ” (Cookson 2005) Valerie, from Islington in north London, said, “A lot of black children are being excluded. This isn’t because they are ruder than white children, but because the system — and some teachers — are not working for our children. ” (Cookson 2005)

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