Researching mixed race in education: perceptions, policies and practices

Researching mixed race in education: perceptions, policies and practices

Race Ethnicity and Education
Volume 10, Issue 3 (September 2007)
pages 345-362
DOI: 10.1080/13613320701503389

Chamion Caballero, Senior Research Fellow
Families & Social Capital Research Group
London South Bank University

Jo Haynes, Lecturer in Sociology
University of Bristol

Leon Tikly, Professor in Education and Deputy Director of Research
University of Bristol

 Although the ‘Mixed’ primary and secondary school population is rapidly growing in both size and recognition, pupils from mixed racial and ethnic backgrounds are largely invisible in current educational policies and practices regarding minority ethnic pupils. In light of initial Local Education Authority-level data which suggested that pupils from Mixed White/Black Caribbean backgrounds were significantly underachieving and over-represented in school exclusions, the authors of this article conducted a research project which, through a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, explored the educational attainment, experiences and needs of this group of pupils. Drawing on the qualitative data from the project, this article will discuss three key areas of findings. Firstly, by presenting data from the case study interviews with pupils, parents, teachers and specialist educational (local Ethnic Minority Achievement Service) advisors, the authors will discuss how the perceptions of the White/Black Caribbean pupils they encountered in the schools encompassed both traditional constructions of ‘mixedness’—which conceptualise mixed identities as inherently problematic—and emerging ‘new wave’ constructions—which conceptualise mixed identities not only as unproblematic, but as positive and celebratory. Secondly, the authors discuss the extent to which these perceptions and their potential impact on pupils’ achievement are supported or challenged by existing educational policies and practices. They conclude by highlighting some of the methodological and theoretical challenges encountered in researching mixedness in the educational context and discuss the implications of these for both their research project and the field of ‘mixed race studies’ as a whole.

Read or purchase the article here.

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