Ethnicity and Achievement

Differential Achievement by Ethnic Group

Read the Introductory Powerpoint and pages 54-55 of AS Sociology Revision. Complete the exercise and print. Then try to make your teacher Walk the Plank!

Ethnicity is a factor that can influence how well students do in school. Ethnicity refers to shared cultural traditions and history which are from other groups. Modern Britain is a multi cultural society made up of many different ethnic groups.

Recent research suggests that some ethnic groups do than others. The general trends are outlined below;

Low Achievers
Afro Caribbean boys do less well than all other ethnic groups. They are more likely to be and are more likely to be found in bottom sets.

Pakistani and Afro Caribbean groups are less likely to go to and when they do tend to attend “second division” universities.

Bangladeshi and Pakistani men and women tend to have the amount of qualifications

High Achievers

Chinese, Asians and Indian groups tend to be better qualified than whites.
Afro Caribbean women are more likely to have A levels than white women
Ethnic children born in the UK tend to have higher qualifications than people who have moved to Britain from abroad

The relative achievement of different ethnic is clearly influenced greatly by the factors of social class and gender, but four theories have been developed to explain differential achievement by ethnic group.

Labelling and Prejudice - an “in school” factor
Cultural Bias in the Curriculum - an in school factor
Language Difference - an “out school factor”
Family Differences - an school factor

Labelling and Prejudice
Interactionists suggest that teachers have very different expectations of different ethnic groups. Gilborn suggested in 1990 that tend to label Afro Caribbean boys as trouble makers. He calls this “the myth of the black challenge” and cites it as a reason for exclusion rates for Afro Caribbean boys.
Teachers on the other hand may well have high expectations of Asian girls as quiet hard working students. Both and positive labels can become self fulfilling prophecies if internalised by the pupils affected.
In has also been noted that despite equal opportunity policies and teacher training, teachers still seem to unintentionally against ethnic minority groups resulting in them receiving less attention and teacher time than white pupils (Wright 1992). This will effect their achievement in schools.

Cultural Bias on the National Curriculum
The National Curriculum has been characterised as ethnocentric - this means representative of white European rather than reflecting the multi cultural make up of the UK. For instance Modern Foreign Languages taught are almost always European ones, by law still have to be “broadly Christian” in their focus, the History taught is British and European with minority ethnic groups only appearing passively as “victims” e.g. the National Curriculum History Study Unit on Slavery. Ethnic minority perspectives are also ignored in Music and Literature. Coard (1971) in “How the West Indian Child is made educationally subnormal in the British school system” suggests that these processes lead to low self and therefore underachievement for minority children.

Language Differences
Where the home background first is not English achievement in school may be adversely affected. However Driver and Ballard found that by age 16 Asian children whose first language was not English were as good at English as white children.
Linguistic difference may be more significant when one looks at teacher attitudes resulting in negative associated with dialect and accent e.g. it may be assumed that an ethnic minority child is at English because of accent when really this is not the case.

Family Difference
Driver and Ballard “Contemporary Performance in Multi Race Schools” found that parents with high expectations had a significant impact on the achievement of the child. They suggested that Asian families were more likely to be focussed on education and more likely to make for the success of their children in the system. The Swann Report went further arguing close knit supportive in the Asian community explains the relative high achievement of their children when compared to Afro Caribbean children.
However Tizzard “Young Children at school in the inner City” following her 3 year study of 343 primary schools concluded that the less supportive Afro Caribbean family was a

Social Class
Many have suggested that ethnicity combines with social to explain differential achievement. The income of Afro Caribbean and Pakistani and Bangladeshi families is on average much lower than that of white, Chinese, African Asian and Indian groups. Material may therefore once again be the central factor in explaining underachievement.