Black And Minority Ethnic Issues In Teaching And Learning

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Black and Minority Ethnic issues in teachingand learningBriefing paper‘What’s wrong with you miss? Why are you always smiling?’ the students at my black-majorityschool ask me. ‘I smile because I see you,’ is my habitual reply. But what I want to say is somethinglike this:‘I smile to salute you, to salute all of the learners here, who continue to hold tight to their dignity andself-belief in the endless and ugly face of racism, rejection and poverty. I smile to salute ourteachers who work more hours that there are, before and after school, in holidays and weekends,to struggle beside our students to try, through mentoring, after school classes, residential courses,to restore the balance and open the doors in a closed and unbalanced world’ That’s what I hopethey hear in my smile.But even that ignores the poignancy of their question, their subtext that says a smile – respect,recognition, affirmation – is so unexpected as to be a symptom of illness, of deviance, theirmessage that announces that there is nothing to smile aboutA respondent to the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain (2000)We had a black head who was tough but fair. You felt he really cared what happened to you. I wentthrough a bad time. I was separated from my family, I was picked on and there was a lot of bullying.I wasn’t able to express how I felt so I took matters into my own hands. I was suspended on anumber of occasions . . . You need a range of role models in a school that show the complexity anddiversity of people’s lives. My headteacher was a positive role model for me.Refugee pupil reflects in a Save the Children focus group (2000)Founded in 1968, Runnymede is a leading independent think tank on ethnicity and cultural diversity.Our mandate since inc eption has been to challenge racial discrimination, to influence related legislationand to promote a successful multi-ethnic Britain.Among Runnymede's key activities are projects to explore the education of minority ethnic youth. Over2002 Runnymede has been fully revising Equality Assurance to take into consideration Curriculum 2000and citizenship education, and the new handbook, Complementing Teachers: a practical guide topromoting race equality in schools, will be published in early 2003.Runnymede was one of the first organisations to actively highlight the disproportionate exclusion ofblack children from schools in Black and Ethnic Minority Young People and Educational Disadvantage(1997). We followed this up with practical guidance on ways to counter disaffection and alienation at anearly stage through action research, the findings of which were reported in Improving Practice: A WholeSchool Approach to Raising the Achievement of African Caribbean Youth (1998).This short briefing paper is to support the discussions at the GTC teacher meeting focused onBlack and minority ethnic issues in teaching and learning. It is designed to present what weknow about teachers and pupils from minority ethnic communities and act as a resource forfurther discussion.1

Black and Minority Ethnic pupilsAcademic attainmentAttainment of 5 or more GCSE A*-CEthnic 5460Pakistani232929White454750(adapted from DfES Youth Cohort Study, 2000).2000Bangladeshi pupils (30%) and Black pupils (28%) are more likely to sit Intermediate/Foundationlevel GVNQ than their white counterparts (10%). (DfES Youth Cohort Study, 2000).Research has shown that Black pupils start school with high achievement levels but performthe worst, compared to other ethnic groups, by GCSE (see Graph 1).GRAPH 1 From Gillborn, D. & Mirza, H.S. (2000) Educational Inequality: Mapping race, classand gender. A synthesis of research evidence. London: OfstedAdditional differences in attainment can be seen when the data is cross-referenced with classand sex (see Graph 2). If pupils are from families with a lower socio-economic status, theyhave less chance of achieving above the national average for GCSEs. Most pupils from Blackand minority ethnic backgrounds are of lower socio-economic status.2

GRAPH 2 Attainment (5 or more GCSE A*-C) inequalities by race, class and gender, England& Wales 1988-1997The statistics for 2000/2001 indicate that Black Caribbean boys and “Black Other” boys are 3times more likely to be permanently excluded from school compared to their whitecounterparts. (Figures for fixed term exclusions are not yet reported nationally)More recent data, collected at LEA level, indicates that pupils from other minority ethnic groups,for example Gypsy/Roma, Traveller and asylum-seeking children, are not sharing equally inacademic success.Factors in academic attainmentResearch suggests that no single factor explains the unequal educational attainment of ethnicgroups. There are two major strands of thought regarding the reasons for differences inattainment between ethnic groups, crudely typified as structuralist and culturalist: Structuralist perspectivemethods such as setting by abilitymean that the best grade a pupil canachieve is predetermined by theability group that he or she has beenallocated to.teacher perception of some ethnicminority groups may mean they aresingled out for differential treatment(e.g. exclusion). Culturalist perspectiveendorses that ethnic groups areaccountable (i.e. lack focus,motivation, ambition) for theireducational outcomes and hence lifechances.focuses on the negative influence ofpeer pressure and lifestyle which isregarded to operate in opposition toeducation.Training and Professional developmentThe TTA carries out an annual survey of newly qualified teachers. In the years 2000-2002, thearea which respondents felt least prepared in by their training was the teaching of children fromminority ethnic communities.3

Monitoring by ethnicityMonitoring by ethnicity enables us to identify inequalities in educational practice and to targetsupport appropriately. Until recently monitoring has been piecemeal, the Race Relations(Amendment) Act 2000 however, places a specific duty on schools to monitor by ethnicity andpublish the results. All schools should have explained how they will do this as a part of theirrace equality policy. This duty should improve the quality of the data available and enablepractitioners to make better judgements about the necessary actions to remedy disadvantage.Good practice: what we know worksResearch has suggested a range of ways of combating inequalities of attainment betweenethnic groups – there is some consensus that the activities noted below are part of the solution. Strong relationships between the headteacher, governors and staff to ensureconsistency of school’s approach to racial equality and achievementMonitoring progress, participation and achievement by ethnicityCommon praise & clear reward systemsFormal systems for logging and investigating racist incidentsInter-Year group or peer group mentoringGood communication with parents to identify & address concerns. This may result inthe school setting up Saturday and holiday classes.4

Black and Minority Ethnic teachersInitial teacher trainingIn 2000/1, 6% (817) of primary school teacher trainees and 8% (1028) of secondary schoolteacher trainees were from minority ethnic communities. (7.8% in total – target set for 2005/6 of9%). From the ethnic monitoring data collected by universities and the TTA, it can be estimatedthat graduates from Black and minority ethnic communities are around three times less likely toenrol in teacher training.The teaching workforceThere is very little data collected at a national (or local) level that can give us a comprehensivepicture of the ethnic diversity of the teaching workforce. The Institute for Policy Studies inEducation (IPSE), based at London Metropolitan University, has carried out the most extensivesurveys and the data reported here is based on their work.While 12.9% of the school population in England (2001) is of children who may be described ascoming from a minority ethnic community – the estimated number of teachers from similarbackgrounds is only 5%. It should also be remembered that minority ethnic communities arenot equally dispersed nationally, with concentrations in the major urban conurbations – 61% ofEngland’s Black Caribbean pupils are found in London schools, 22% of England’s Pakistaniorigin pupils are found in Yorkshire (there are only 120 Black Caribbean pupils in the whole ofthe North East).The survey carried out by IPSE found that teachers from Black and minority ethniccommunities differed in demographic and professional terms from their white counterparts.Age profile The age profile of white teachers in the survey areas was bi modal with clusters aroundthe 25-34 and the 45-55 age groups Asian teachers were concentrated in the younger age groups (28% under 30) Black teachers were concentrated in the 30-45 age groups (69%)RetentionWorryingly, whilst more likely to stay in the geographical area in which they are currentlyteaching, teachers from Black and minority ethnic communities reported that they were lesslikely to stay in teaching than their white counterparts – raising questions about theeffectiveness of retention strategies for these groupsCareer progressionIn terms of career progression, the IPSE survey found that teachers from Black and minorityethnic communities were more likely to be on main scale grades rather than having positions ofgreater responsibility. This was especially true when considering the careers of male teachers.While only 31.1% of white male teachers were found to be on the basic main grade, 46.3% ofAsian male and 43.8% of black males were in this lowest category.5

Taking into account experience (given the evidence that many teachers from Black andminority ethnic communities are likely to qualify at a later age), of the teachers surveyed whoqualified before 1986, 10.7% of the White teaching population are headteachers. Only 4.9% ofAsian and 3.9% of Black teachers are heads.Teachers’ experiencesSmall-scale qualitative research into the experiences of teachers from Black and minorityethnic communities suggests some of the difficulties that they face. They include Subject stereotypingPromotion only available through specialist routes that do not lead to headshipExpectation that they will ‘deal’ with parents or children from minority ethnicbackgroundsExpected to legitimise school decisions that they expect may have discriminatoryoriginsPerception of teaching as low status among certain minority ethnic communitiesEncountering racism during training/teaching practice6

Useful publications:Blair, M. & Bourne, J. (1998) Making the Difference: Teaching and learningStrategies in Successful Multi-ethnic schools. Research Report No.59.London: DfEECommission for Racial Equality (2000) Learning for All: Standards for RacialEquality in Schools. London: CRECommission for Racial Equality (2002) Framework for a Race Equality policy:for schools. London: CREDepartment for Education & Skills (2000) Youth Cohort Study: The Activitiesand experiences of 16 year olds: England & Wales 2000. London:DfESGillborn, D. & Mirza, H.S. (2000) Educational Inequality: Mapping race, classand gender. A synthesis of research evidence. London: OfstedOFSTED (1999) Raising the attainment of minority ethnic pupils: School andLEA responses. London: OFSTEDOFSTED (2002) Achievement of Black Caribbean pupils: Three SuccessfulPrimary Schools. London: OFSTEDOFSTED (2002) Achievement of Black Caribbean pupils: Good practice inSecondary Schools. London: OFSTEDOsler, A (1997) The Education and careers of black teachers: Changing identities, changing livesBuckingham: Open University PressRoss, A (2001) Ethnic Minority teachers in the teaching workforce. London: IPSE Occasional PaperThe Runnymede Trust (2003) (forthcoming) Complementing Teachers: A practical guide to promotingrace equality in schoolsThe Runnymede Trust (1998) Improving Practice: A Whole School Approachto Raising the Achievement of African Caribbean Youth. London: TheRunnymede Trust7

Questions for the Teacher MeetingThe GTC and the Runnymede Trust are interested in learning from yours and your colleaguesexperience. Please use these questions as a guide for the discussion on 20th January 2003.Black and minority issues in teaching and learning A higher proportion of BME young people go into higher education than enter theteaching profession. What is keeping BME graduates away from teaching? Are the main reasons BME teachers leave the profession the same as all teachers?(Low pay, high workload, behaviour, cost of living and professional development andcareer opportunities) What can be done to support BME teachers through their career at the school, localand national level? How do we encourage more BME learning assistants into the teaching profession? Do the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 and the Commission for Racial Equalityduties to produce a race equality scheme and monitor policies and practices byethnicity help in mainstreaming race equality? Do you think the duties are a welcomeboost to ensure race equality or is it an unnecessary burden?Black and minority ethnic issues in learning What practices and strategies do you have in your school to support pupils from thediverse background? How do schools maximise the benefits of diverse cultural input that pupils bring ratherthan see it as a challenge? What extra support do BME pupils need? Think of pupils with English as an additionallanguage, refugee children and traveller children. How can the LEA support pupils from a diverse background into mainstreamschooling? What support do all teachers need to teach pupils from a diverse ethnic background?Are they sufficiently prepared by their initial teacher training? What continuousprofessional development do teachers require to support pupils from a diversebackground? Is the current schooling system able to meet the needs of all pupils? If not how can itmeet the needs of all pupils? Schooling represents only 15% of a child’s experience. What are the limits of schoolsin challenging the underachievement of some BME pupils?8

coming from a minority ethnic community – the estimated number of teachers from similar backgrounds is only 5%. It should also be remembered that minority ethnic communities are not equally dispersed nationally, with concentrations in the major urban conurbations – 61% of