Why do black pupils underperform?

Research has consistently shown that black children, and especially black Caribbean pupils, are disadvantaged when teachers decide who should be entered for the top exams. Black children are most likely to be placed in lower teaching groups and denied the most sought after subjects regardless of their achievements, their social class and their gender. These findings have been replicated by numerous studies, including work commissioned by the education department itself and by Ofsted.

According to The Guardian it\’s because teachers are racist.

Ho hum, burn the teacher training colleges then, eh?

Actually, there\’s an error in the original prescription of the problem. White working class do just as badly as black and Afro Caribbean. Not too much of a surprise as most black and Afro Caribbean in the UK are working class.

Which means that the problem with the teachers isn\’t that they\’re racist but that they\’re classist.

But that still means we get to burn the teacher training colleges, happily.

21 thoughts on “Why do black pupils underperform?”

  1. I am not surprised that teachers are racist. They have been indoctrinated in lefty ideas after all.

  2. The quote suggests that they adjust for class. Use of Occam’s razor suggests that it’s their use of the data that is erroneous rather than yours, though.

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    It would be hard to explain why students of African origin do not do poorly in exams then. You know, if the teachers are racist and all. You would think that they wouldn’t like slightly darker students who are pretty much indistinguishable to your average racist.

    The White Working Class is easier to explain – they are thick. Lee Kwan-yew is right and the Grammars creamed off the entire working class contingent capable of benefiting from advanced education leaving the dregs behind.

    Of course that is not an argument I would make and not one I really believe. But that they took pretty much everyone with a belief and desire for education might be plausible. Which brings us back to Afro-Caribbean youth – stupid and destructive cultural expectations of male behaviour produce poor outcomes.

  4. It is actually worse than that if you peel away the layers. Since around 2001 the English education system and policy makers at Whitehall/LEA level have used data from the Fisher Family Trust in setting targets for schools and for individual children within them. The data breaks down by postcode, social class, ethnicity and family type (married, cohabiting, single parent, care, etc) the “expected” attainment of children. This then sets a benchmark for the school as to what each particular child and the school as a whole ought to attain. Being charitable, it isn’t necessarily what the FFT intended nor indeed the LEAs/Whitehall, but the practical application of this at school level is to turn historical data about populations into normative rules for individuals. If a school or child outperforms its FFT “predictions” the school is doing well.

    As different groups have different historical levels of attainment at the same level of ability this means that children with equal ability at the same school will be targeted at different levels – eg my son and our next door neighbour’s boy would be expected to have very different attainments on the basis of their different ethnicities and family situations even if they are equally hard working and intelligent (or otherwise).

    The system is based around data showing eg black children or white working class children getting the lowest grades and sets targets based on that for them.

    Teachers are no more likely to be racist than anyone else, possibly they would like to think themselves less so as a broadly “lefty” caring profession. However, they, their leaders and progressive policy makers under the past government, while trying to take differences of race and latterly class into account to focus on improving education (I don’t believe they wanted to make things bad or worse) have institutionalised racism and classism.

  5. If black Caribbean kids don’t perform well because teachers are racist, why do Indian and Chinese children do better than white-British children? Are teachers racist against white kids too?

    One of the articles linked to by that Guardian article says,

    “White pupils were significantly more likely to be entered for the top tiers than their black Caribbean, Pakistani, black African and Bangladeshi classmates.”

    There is no mention of Indian or Chinese in the article.

    Ah, but perhaps racism doesn’t mean what we think it means:

    “By ‘institutional racism’ I mean organisational arrangements that may have disproportionately negative impacts on some ethnic groups,” said Dr Steve Strand of Warwick University.

  6. Good points on FFT. Why targets are a bad thing, but you need to know how you are doing. Also the mentality of looking at groups needs, not individuals.

    Target setting for kids is rife. They can work down to them, as well as ip to them. Concern should be for how hard kids work, because that is what kids can control.

  7. “By ‘institutional racism’ I mean organisational arrangements that may have disproportionately negative impacts on some ethnic groups,” said Dr Steve Strand of Warwick University.

    Those awful teachers, demanding children sit down, shut up, learn stuff and pass exams. Can you be more racist???

  8. mammy's little soldier

    This is an opinion piece not and editorial. It’s by someone who is apparently a “professor of Critical Race Studies”, whatever that is. It is clearly fun but silly to assume that the same views are held by everyone at the guardian and all those mental lefties what read it.

    There’s any amount of work demonstrating that teachers are to some degree “classist” but is that the only or even the main reason that working class males (of whatever ethnicity) do badly at school? I think it is difficult to explain differences in educational achievement/socio-economic position etc from a libertarian position without being racist.

  9. The most left-wing ‘profession’ in the country, whose house journal is the Guardian, who have swallowed every lefty dogma that has passed their way, is ‘racist’?

    Strange racists, in that they discriminate against Afro-Carribeans but not Africans, against Pakistanis but not Indians.

    Hmmm. I think the case is more about culture, but our uber-progressive loon cannot face that, so blame safe middle-class white people instead.

  10. Fascinating stuff, Botzarelli. The law of unintended consequences in all its glory.
    Here the collection of ethnic and religious census information is banned so happily the state can’t set these perverse incentives.
    A bit like that governor of Hong Kong Tim so admires.
    Justice is blind, and the socialists want to make it all-seeing.

  11. Speaking from experience. At my school I was not entered for the higher exam for Maths GCSE and got a D. When I entered myself the next year I got an A.
    (My math’s teacher suffered a lot of mickey taking because of this).
    However for some subjects there was one paper for everyone. The grade someone got did not depend on their teachers expectations. So why could it not be like that for all subjects?

    If my history teacher for example had thought that I could only get a lower grade it would not have made a difference!

  12. I should add that it’s not that I’m doubting your story per se, it’s that I’m curious about the mechanics.

  13. ” It’s by someone who is apparently a “professor of Critical Race Studies”, whatever that is. “

    Someone a couple of rungs down on the ladder of social contribution than a person who asks ‘Do you want fries with that?’ every day.

  14. At my school I was not entered for the higher exam for Maths GCSE and got a D. When I entered myself the next year I got an A.

    G Orwell, how could you get a D on a paper you weren’t entered for?

    He was entered for the paper where you could obtain a D. He was not entered for the paper where you could obtain an A.

    Maths GCSE is divided into tiers: foundation and higher (there used to be an intermediate tier, too).

  15. Will their be any other profession with a higher proportion of Guardianistas than teachers? At least they aren’t required to teach catastrophic warming any more though I suspect most still will.

  16. Polly Curtis (the Guardian education editor) is wrong – it is not racism but sexism. Boys in aggregate now do worse than girls in exams (except for maths where coursework is done in class) but if you in detail as why this is you find that it is mostly down to the difference in performance between Afro-Caribbean girls and boys, with the difference between white working class boys and girls a minor contributor.
    You cannot expect Polly to admit this – it is an article of faith for many feminists that there can never be any such thing as unfair discrimination against males

  17. I recommend the website: lagriffedulion.f2s.com
    to anyone really interested in these matters.

    There are 32 essays, every one of which sheds light on matters that should be of great public interest. Not actually “light” reading but a trove of enough well-laid-out material to justify reading one every week or two when there’s nothing better to do.

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