Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Education System Failing Black Students
England’s system of education is failing to tackle race inequality. That's the stark finding of a recently published report. Of course black communities have longed complained about racism in the English education system. This report confirms that when it comes to the issues of discrimination in education, the chronic lack of opportunity in caused by discrimination is alive and flourishing in English schools.
The research, The Barriers to Tackling Racism and Promoting Equality in England’s Schools, published by the National Union of Teachers and the race equality campaigning group Show Racism the Red Card found that huge numbers of teachers and pupils had seen serious racist incidents such offensive and derogatory name calling, racist bullying and gross stereotyping.
The report confirms that despite the views of some in the black community such as Tony Sewell, Katherine Berbalsingh structural inequalities on the grounds of race are still a major issues in English schools. Both pupils and teachers are reported to have witnessed racist behavior that they felt unable to deal with. They also reported that schools generally ignored most racial incidents.
The impact on the perception of black children of the nature of justice and equality is informed by their experience of differential justice meted out in schools. Far from having a ‘ chip on their shoulder” black children’s views about the nature and fairness of British society is shaped by the racism they encounter in schools.
Black and Asian students suffered the greatest but asylum seekers were also suffering with pupils mimicking the public and political debate in the press. Pupils were found to be targeting asylum seekers as scapegoats and identified them being responsible for all of societies problems.
The research involving a questionnaire to over 148 teachers and pupils concluded that around 83% of teachers questioned said they had witnessed deeply worrying racist attitudes or behavior amongst their students. Teachers spoke of name-calling, comments, jokes, racist bullying and stereotyping of different races by pupils of all ages.
Not surprisingly in a culture where the educational environment is poisoned with racism, such attitudes were not restricted to pupils. Of those questioned 31% said they had seen similar behavior amongst teachers. In some cases, they used racist terminology, or had lower expectations of ethnic minority pupils.
The report states there were many "teachers with racist attitudes, for example those who were dismissive of the Asian pupils due to perceived language issues". Teacher expectations has a massive effect on the educational performance of black children and research after research has proven that challenging low teacher expectations is absolutely critical to improving the educational performance of black children. Surprisingly 39% of those teachers questioned said they had not received any training in tackling racism.
Nearly all teachers said that if they witnessed a racist incident they felt confident that they would report it.
Nevertheless the report concluded: "There was evidence of a lack of action against racist attitudes and behavior and a lack of understanding of the mechanisms and reasons for reporting racist incidents.
The research highlighted a deep reluctance among teachers to report incidents where it was felt that the racism was unintentional.
Ged Grebby, chief executive of Show Racism the Red Card, said: "The research highlights that there is a huge gap in the current teacher training provision when it comes to preparing teachers to tackle racism and embed equality. Teachers need to be empowered with skills and knowledge in order to be better equipped to deal with these issues in schools."
(First published at Operation Black Vote http://www.obv.org.uk/)