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Study Notes

Differential Education Achievement by Ethnicity - Statistics

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, Eduqas

Last updated 26 Nov 2019

Differential educational achievement by ethnicity refers to the fact that pupils from some ethnic backgrounds perform better in school than others.

While some sociologists point to cultural and material deprivation – outside school factors – to explain these differences, others look to processes inside the school such as labelling and institutional racism.

Black pupils statistically underperform in school while pupils of Indian or Chinese heritage often “over-perform”. However, the picture is not straightforward. Female black pupils are more likely to go into higher education than girls from several other ethnicities (including white British) and Bangladeshi pupils achieve above the national average at GCSE but are among the groups least likely to go to university. As such, these statistics are unlikely to be able to be explained by one factor – like teacher racism – and a combination of factors are likely to be at play.

In terms of achieving 5 A*-C grades at GCSE, pupils from a Chinese heritage tend to perform best (74% in 2014), Indian next (73% in 2014) with white British trailing behind (56% in 2014, a little below the national average) and children from Pakistani backgrounds and African Caribbean behinds further behind still (51.4% and 47% respectively in 2014). The lowest performing ethnic groups are Irish traveller and Roma/Gypsy groups (at 14% and 8% respectively).

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