Understanding the Educational Needs of Mixed Heritage Pupils

Posted in Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Reports, Social Science, Teaching Resources, United Kingdom on 2009-10-24 01:21Z by Steven

Understanding the Educational Needs of Mixed Heritage Pupils

University of Bristol
June 2004
ISBN: 1844782646
121 pages

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

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

Jo Haynes, Lecturer in Sociology
University of Bristol

John Hill
Birmingham LEA

in association with
Birmingham Local Education Authority


In March 2003, a team from the University of Bristol working in association with Birmingham Local Education Authority (LEA) was commissioned by the DfES (Department for Education and Skills) to conduct research into the educational needs of mixed heritage pupils with specific reference to the barriers to achievement faced by White/Black Caribbean pupils. Qualitative research was carried out in fourteen schools in six LEAs (primary schools with more than 10% of mixed heritage pupils and secondary schools with more than 5% of mixed heritage pupils). Quantitative data from the DfES National Pupil Database are also reported.

Key findings

  • The attainment of White/Black Caribbean pupils is below average, the attainment of White/Black African pupils is similar to average in primary schools and slightly below average in secondary schools and the attainment of White/Asian pupils is above average.
  • The key barriers to achievement facing pupils of White/Black Caribbean origin are in many cases similar to those faced by pupils of Black Caribbean origin. They are more likely to come from socially disadvantaged backgrounds; are more likely to experience forms of institutionalised racism in the form of low teacher expectations; and, are more likely to be excluded from school.
  • White/Black Caribbean pupils also face specific barriers to achievement. Low expectations of pupils by teachers often seem based on a stereotypical view of the fragmented home backgrounds and ‘confused’ identities of White/Black Caribbean pupils. These pupils often experience racism from teachers and from their White and Black peers targeted at their mixed heritage. This can lead to the adoption of what are perceived to be rebellious and challenging forms of behaviour.
  • The barriers to achievement experienced by White/Black Caribbean pupils operate in a context where mixed heritage identities (including those of White/Black Caribbean, White/Black African and White/Asian pupils) are not recognised in the curriculum or in policies of schools and of LEAs. In the case of White/Black Caribbean pupils, their invisibility from policy makes it difficult for their underachievement to be challenged.
  • In those schools where White/Black Caribbean pupils achieve relatively highly they often benefit from inclusion in policies targeted at Black Caribbean learners, with whom they share similar barriers to achievement and with whom they often identify.
  • Even in these schools, however, the specific barriers to achievement faced by White/Black Caribbean learners are rarely explicitly addressed.

In our 2004 report from the DfES, our analysis indicated that 2.5% of the national school age population were identified as belonging to the overall ‘Mixed’ ethnic group, with large regional variations. The largest proportion of these pupils could be found in the Inner London area – they constituted 7.3% of school pupils. The smallest was in the North East – 0.7%.

Read the entire report here.

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