Effect of Race and Ethnicity on Educational Attainment in the UK

4526 words (18 pages) Essay

23rd Sep 2019 Education Reference this


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 ‘To what extent does Race and Ethnicity affect educational attainment in the United Kingdom?’




Albert Einstein once said “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree. It will live its whole life believing that its stupid”



You judge all that are in your system on their WORTH and their COMPETENCE on

 everything that they are BAD at

You are the STATUS QUO for learning

You are not doing exactly what you were DESIGNED for

PROMBLEM is that what you are designed to do is not very good,

It has become LESS VALUBLE than ever

“We are PREPARING them for the FUTURE

You claim, but REALLY NOW,

You killed CREATIVITY and all you FOCUS on is ‘CURRICULUM’

 You only worry about how good they make you look throughout their life’s


TWISTE the view on what being SMART is


You make them into some sort of DATABASE


If they dare, ask questions

About what’s being SHOVED in their FACES

They better BEWARE

They get put down, and be given a “FAILING GRADE”

Who’s to be BLEMED.

You are like the GRIM REAPER, made to suck out


out of all the INNOCENT, NAÏVE VICTIME, whom are forced to come to you.


A factory line you churn them out, for one thing only, an ECONOMICAL SOCIETY

IDENTITIES are lost once they enter your system

This is CRUEL and INHUMAN.

All you focus on is the “ACADEMICS”

You DETERMINIG their intelligence and accessibility to higher education or their future careers by letter grades on a piece of paper.

Set by them been made to sit in a roll in a badly lit room to answer question that has nothing to do with the real world.




You are like a game show, which all your participants

Mark in squares 60 or more questions in hour or less

Game show, Students need to complete a test that determines where they fit, which college or university will be gracious enough to accept them


Mr big important Education System

Sit on your ceremonial chair with your narrow-minded expectations

Wondering why students are scoring so low on your tests.

It has been scientifically proven multiple times that school begins too early

Times in which the morning dew,

Caress flowers petals to grave diggers doing their nightly routine inspections

The world has change so much in all the decade,

But in your case, you continue to do nothing to change yourself

Like the walking dead they drag themselves through your system

Then are simply left to fend for themselves in this jungle of complications

You make it virtually impossible for those who are willing to help them to do so

Not only do you destroy their ability to learn you also destroy the passion of those who wants to teach

Can not say it the teacher’s fault for such a bad system

They have no choice but to listen to the old men

Who just wants to make money out of the system?

Delegates what should be taught and how it should be learnt

You have created a vicious cycle where no one


They wait for the day when they can finally escape


You have all these Acts to promote inclusion and equality

But not all are put into practice

You talk the talk, Mister big shot

But can’t walk the walk

You have become more about competing with other COUNTRIES than EDUCATING

You push them till they have nothing more to give.

You set unachievable goals,


Blame those who are trying to help them achieve

You have become more about dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s

You don’t see them as individuals.

You train those who teaches them

That they all the same, they all learn the same way

You tell them ‘failure’ is not an option

How can the learn if they are afraid to fail

They spend 18 years in your system 

And what do they have to show for it, just a fancy piece of paper

They come out not even knowing, how to pay house hold bills,

No nothing about money management,

Yet they are false fed with PIES and PINTS

Your system turn teacher into regurgitating Robots.

Left to mould young minds

Feeling their heads with subjects that are of no use to their futures

Those who came before you

Had many different ideas to

How your system should educate the young minds and parents

Who invest in your way of educating

Your Frobel’s, Vygotsky’s and others before 

Believed that learning through play

Was/are the ways to help young minds

Apply their knowledge, understanding

Developing ideas, feelings, physical, and relationships

You are not all that bad

Because you did buy into their ideas

From the starts of their school life

You give them the FREEDOM

They need to do their best thinking through play



Your Early Years Setting encourages learning through first hand experiences

Also, not only do you encourage IMAGINATION to flow freely

You see symbolic play as very important for their development

You give them four years



They have their own identities

After that, the GLOOM and DOOM begins

They embark on a journey

To the world of the living DEAD

Like the depths of the UNDERWORLD

They are just fine

You know a little DARK, a little GLOOMY, and, as always 

HEY, full of soul less STUDENTS


EDUCATION does not prepare them for life

EDUCATION is life itself

The Pioneers of Education pushed education forward

Through mountains of Criticism and Scepticism

We are forever indebted

For the legacy of sacrifice

And learning for all to enjoy

They had the courage to do things 

No one else had done before

Many countries throughout the world do not start children at school

Until age six or seven years

Many of your Early Years educators argues that

Your system should do the same as well

Also, other countries promote outdoors learning as well as indoor learning

Their system also promotes active learners

They work together with parents

They value parents as the most important educators in a child’s life


May be the best way you can

Honour our Pioneer of Education is for you

To keep moving FORWARD

And be open to exploring new frontiers of education

Do not be afraid to collaborate with others

To what extent does ‘Race’/ Ethnicity affect educational attainment in the United Kingdom

Imagine a world where you are not seen for what your Race, and Ethnicity is, but for what you are as a person.  It is your character that defines who you are and what you become in life.

For this assignment I will be looking at the correlation between race, gender, ethnicity and the effect on educational attainment. Do these three issues affect life chances or is there other factors that are involved as well. Also, I will be looking at the different ethnic minorities and what their stands are in schools.

But before I get to the main objective, I feel I need to briefly explain the meaning of all the terms and concepts, mainly Race /Ethnicity as it can be misconstrue as having the same meaning.

Race and Ethnicity are complex terms and often used interchangeably as they have similarities in definition, as a result many remain quite unclear about the definition of the two terms. According to an online article by Live Science Staff  Race is said to be associated with biology, whereas Ethnicity is said to associated with culture.

Pilkington (2003) highlights that Race entails distinguishing people on the basis of physical markers, such as skin pigmentation, hair texture, and facial features, and placing people into discrete categories.”

In my opinion Race is more than skin deep.  As individuals, our racial identity is so intimately inscribed into the ways that we see and experience the world, and other people in it, that is often taken as a natural and unchanging fact of life.  Race has been said to be a social construction meaning that stigmas and division associated with it are born out of political and cultural rather than it being purely biological factors as many researchers have stated as the one thing that plays a central role in the shaping the ways that power operates in a specific society. On the other hand, a broad definition would be to say that ‘Race’ is caste system or is it the way of those in power classifying people into a rigid social hierarchy based on perceived ancestry and intimately associated with notions of nationalism, citizenship and class.

Racism is a big issue in schools cross the UK. Although is not something that is often brought to light. It embedded into most students and you might say some teachers as well. You may have thought that racism was gone once Slavery was abolished but this is not truly the case

I have spent most of my school life being judge by the colour of my skin, and where I came from (Ghana West Africa) not on my learning abilities. Not only was I seen as a failure by my peers but also by most of my teachers. At the start of my school year I was put straight into sports, specifically long-distance cross-country run. When I questioned this, got told because of my background i.e. being form Africa I was built for it. I was very shocked and confused to be told this at such a young age. I was being judged based on my ethnicity as well as race, and not on my ability as a person., which then left me no room to fail. Because I had to live up to the expectations put on me due to my ethnicity. What was my saving grace was the fact that I did enjoyed and was naturally good at sports, especially athletics (long distance cross country running and track and field), but this might not be the case for many ethnic minority students?  In year 8, at parents evening my mum was told by numerous of my teachers that I had no chance of getting into University. And I should just concentrate on my sports. Being told this by those I saw as role models that I would not amount to anything, really knocked my self-esteem and my beliefs.

People these days are so afraid to talk about the obvious racial discrimination that goes on in society, let alone on our schools’ playgrounds. We do not want to believe that there is racism among our children.  Children are not born racist, they are taught how to be. A person’s character is stereotyped by their skin colour, how the speak and what they look like rather than who they are as an individual. I believe that discrimination continues due to stereotyping and bias influence and been passed onto the younger generations.

There is an obvious overlap when it came both terms, but they are distinct, for example if a parson is said to be a Black British, they would probably be considered as a member of the African or Caribbean race, but it they do not practice the culture of their ancestors than their ethnicity will be British. Where if they did practice the culture, their ethnicity will be African or Caribbean.

On the other hand, Ethnicity, is a word that is describe the cultural identity of a person. These can include language, religion, nationality and ancestry as well as ethnic groups can also share linguistic traits, while other might share a common group history but not so much a common language or religion.

The members of an ethnicity tend to identify with each other based on these shared cultural traits. One time period to another some ethnic groups might distinguish themselves differently.  Although they will typically seek to define themselves but not only that they are defined by the stereotypes of dominant groups

Race and ethnicity can overlap each other, but they are distinct. For example, a Black British would probably consider themselves as a member of the African or Caribbean race, but, if they do not engage in any of the practices or customs of their ancestors, they then might not identify with the ethnicity, but they might instead consider themselves to be British.

Race and Gender inequality, even though we may not want to believe that they still play a huge role in students’ education, both in the United Kingdom and throughout the world.

I myself being a Black African student who believes that racism and sexism are alive in the education system, not only in the UK but also globally. Throughout my years of volunteer in schools both primary and secondary I have come to see how hard it was/is ethnic minority students, there were getting into trouble for the same thing that the white student was getting away with. There are more black boys and girls getting suspended or excluded form schools for defending themselves from racial discrimination.   I have recently come across a case of where a girl of Black Caribbean descendent, was getting into trouble regularly for standing up for herself from being racial bullied by her peer. Although herself and her foster parents were informing the school on a daily basis about all incidents. The school fail to document or even investigate the it any further.  Instead the blame had put her, saying she has a bad attitude and is a troublemaker. With the failed support for both the school and police, she felt they had taken matters into her own hands, lead to her getting to numerous fights with both teacher and peers. Which than lead to her being permanently exclusion from mainstream school and is now in a pupil referral unit

There has been many reports showing that academic and disciplinary’s racial disparities continue to exist in Key Stage 3 education in the UK and on the other side girls and young women in all parts of the world are being prevented from starting school or not allowed to complete their education.

In some senses race is a more overt marker, which then is probably more likely to be registered in how it influences education. A student of Black African heritage in classroom is likely to raise issues about the Slavery, they may have heard a story of Slavery in a different context.  While the class teacher would have tried every effort to teach their students the historical facts with impartially, I do not believe it’s always easy to be objective observer and avoid personal prejudices when it is been taught. 

While we as educators attempt to teach future generations to not dwell on the injustices of the past, this can be unfair to different races. Depending on the age of the children, it is best to deal with the unpleasant aspects of the history also because otherwise children from racial minority families may well fret about the glossing over off reality.

 On the other side of the coin, teaching the history of race is great thing for at students as it helps them to know where they came from in order to know where they are going. But the mistake that happens is we talk about race, but not much importance is put on teaching it, so it can be understood.

Although most schools in Britain are multicultural, you can see clear differences between ethnic minorities.  There has been statistics that clearly shows that some ethnicities groups are doing poorer than others. When it comes to GCSE’s Black Caribbean boys are achieving the least amount (31.6%) of A*-C grades but on the other hand more than 60.9% of Chinese girls are achieving the most GCSE’s. There are many factors why some ethnicities may do better than others. Ethnicity can have a major effect on a student’s achievement, but other major factors can be things like- social class, gender and location can also play a part in how well they do. On the other hand, what happen within the walls of the school and classroom can or may influence whether a student’s success or failure. When we set low expectations for students of the ethnic minority it can affect their progression in school, therefor causing a ripple effect in the rest of their life.  This also known as the self-fulfilling prophecy.

Most Black African/Caribbean boys gets labelled as being “Troublemakers” or having “Challenging behaviours”.  They get labelled by teachers and have now made a prediction about these group of students without taken time getting to know them as an individual. The prediction that the teachers have about these group of students then set a precedent for there being a low expectation on their ability to achieve a higher grade, which then make teachers except below average attempt on their class work as well as homework.  Also, these students that has been labelled by the teacher, will never receive the encouragement they need to achieve in school or in life in general.  Because they have already been labelled as “Failures”, the teacher is now not willing to put in the help the Black African/Caribbean boys which then make their prediction a reality.  Confirming that labels put on BAC students will or can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, though which affects the student’s educational achievements i.e. resulting to the being placed in the lower set and receive little or no encouragement. You then get some teaches that can be unintentionally racist as they may have stereotypical view about an ethnic community.

Classroom racism is alive and well, even if in the country may have turned politically correct. Britain is seen as a multi-racial and multi-faith country where everyone has right to their culture as well as their religion respected by others. No child should not be subjected to name calling or to be treated badly because of the colour of their skin, race or ethnic. It has been made illegal, since 1978 The Race Relations Act was passed as Law.  In this it stated that schools and their governing bodies have a duty to ensure that Students do not face any form of racial discrimination, including attacks or harassment. All schools now have a legal obligation to have an anti-racist policy and they need to ensure the all those who work in their schools are fully trained in equality legislation. Research shows that the is a high number of white teachers in both primary and secondary schools having some sort conflict with African and Caribbean students.  In this situation Black boy would start to believe there is not much point of trying the best to learn in class if the teachers are going to be ‘racist’. What this then creates is problem when all African and Caribbean boys will become anti- school sub culture this where a set of values, attitudes and behaviours in opposition to all the main aims of schools.  When students are not no longer bothered with their education and it is because of the way the teachers have behaved towards them. Which means that they can aim high, but it would totally impossibly for them to achieve their goals when this no encouragement from the teachers.

Although there can be many factors inside school that can also affect attainment, as well as there been outside school factor could have just as much effect on a student education. Students ethnic minority background can often be at a disadvantage in social condition such a poor housing, overcrowding and have parents that are unemployed. A child with unemployed, there is a likely hood that they will have little or not interest in their child’s school attainment. Also living with family members who are unemployed indicates that they would not have any or very little amount of money to spend on school equipment and textbooks or any other thing they may need. This is known as deprivation. When there is lack of school material and learning sources in a child’s home can prevent them form being able to reach their full potential.

Ethnic minorities have very different cultures and backgrounds. Most Black African/Caribbean boys speaks English as their second language, which makes learning in English slightly harder than those that have as a first language. The language difference could cause barriers when it comes to doing various school work. Being able to communication confidently with teachers can be a major influence achievement of a child.  There may be a chance that teachers may possibly mistake language difficulties for lack of ability, leading back to the self-fulfilling prophecy. The students may get unconsciously penalized in the classroom for no reason. Language barriers can affect the attainment of these children from the Black African/ Caribbean ethnic background because the communication between them and the teacher can be hindered.

In conclusion the length in which ethnicity can affected the educational attainment is major. When teacher start labelling their students can be really distracting to them and can stop them for achieving the full potential and being able to move on to further education.  The fact that African / Caribbean boys are noisy and destructive, as well as they not caring about their own education may lead to teacher have a harsher attitude towards them. They will the come to the assumption that their boys will be the likely corporate to be disruptive during lessons. This may also cause the assumption that African /Caribbean boys are unlikely to be interested in certain subjects.



Department for Education (2017) Ethnicity facts and figures, A* to C in English and Maths GCSE attainment for children aged 14 to 16 (key stage 4). Available at: https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/education-skills-and-training/11-to-16-years-old/percentage-achieving-a-c-in-english-and-maths/latest ,[ Accessed: 29/12/2018]

Department for Education (2018) Revised GCSE and equivalent results in England, 2016 to 2017 Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/676596/SFR01_2018.pdf [Accessed on 29/12/2018]

Lander, V. (2015) ‘Racism it’s part of my everyday life’: Black and Minority Ethnic Pupils’ Experiences in a Predominantly White School. In Alexander, C., Weekes-Bernard, D. and Arday, J(Eds). Runnymede School Report: Race, Education and Inequality in Contemporary Britain. London: Runnymede. Pp. 32-35.

Live Science Staff(2012) https://www.livescience.com/authors/?name=Live%20Science%20Staff

Mason, D. (1995) Race and Ethnicity in Modern Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Moodood, T. and May, S. (2001) ‘Multiculturalism and education in Britain: An internally contested debate’. International Journal of Educational Research 35(3), pp.305-317.

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