Tuesday, October 19

Geography, not race, explains the disparity in educational outcomes in England | Alex Mistlin | Opinion

IIt sounds strange to me now, but looking back, I didn’t know I was black until I went to college. In all the schools I attended (seven between the ages of four and 18), I was one of many ethnic minority students and it never occurred to me that I was less likely to be successful because of my race. In fact, the last England government figures show In reality, black students have a higher rate of participation in higher education (SE) than white students. According to research, mixed black and white African pupils eligible for free school meals (a category I was in) were more than twice as likely to attend college as their British white counterparts (40% vs. 16%).

While culture wars have created a perverse demand for stories that present different identity groups as “more downtrodden” than others, the below-average performance of white students, particularly those who are poor and male, has been for years. long a popular response to the notion that racial discrimination is something that clearly hurts minority communities. “What about the white working class?” the right cry.

Consequently, a recent Chris Millward’s blog post, from the Student Office, represents a timely intervention. The publication confirmed that poor white students are the least likely to attend university: “The rate of progression to higher education for British white students who are eligible for free school meals it’s only 16%, ”compared to rates of 32% and 59% for poor black students in the Caribbean and Africa, respectively. But, astutely, the blog emphasized the impact of geography on these results: White students receiving free school meals in London have fallen away from those in other parts of the country with an ES participation rate 8% higher than any other region, 44.7%.

The headline statistics (most notably the figure that white students are less likely to progress to higher education at age 19, at 38%) were striking enough for many to conclude that poor white adolescents are falling. “Leaving behind.” However, closer inspection reveals that if this is the case, it is more likely a consequence of place than breed.

As Millward points out, “the most important ingredient for participation in HE is the level of school achievement” and the levels of school achievement are universally lower outside the capital. This is a reflection of a focus on improving educational outcomes in London, where less than half (45%) of the population is classified as White British, while the next most diverse region is the West Midlands (79% White British ). The capital’s strong performance skews the data in favor of Bame’s groups because London’s demographics are very different from the rest of England.

In Britain, race can be a proxy for place, particularly with regard to the black community: 66% of black Britons live in London or the South East. As such, simplistic framing of the educational debate in terms of how black students outperform their white counterparts, as if schools and local authorities are somehow prioritizing the needs of their Bame students, are often lacking in key context. For example, black students are still the least likely to progress to “high-fee higher education” (referring to Britain’s elite universities, including Oxbridge and Russell Group) and tend to fare worse once there. According to Advanced ES Research, the gap in the probability that black and white students will earn a 2: 1 degree will not close until 2086 at current rates.

Furthermore, the educational success of Bame communities is a relatively recent phenomenon. Black students, for example, have not always done better in UK education. In 2005-06, ES participation rates for Caribbean black and other black students they were below the corresponding figure for white British students. In other words, Bame students are not “naturally” predisposed to improve, nor do they have a systemic advantage at every stage of their education. They tend to do better in school because they live disproportionately in London, where the schools are better.

However, this was not always like that. In 1997, the year I was born, the low level of state education in London was a source of shame. Only 16% of students earned five GCSEs in grades A through C, and large achievement gaps for different ethnic groups were a major problem for many communities. The London Challenge, launched by Labor Education Secretary Estelle Morris, herself a former teacher, in 2003 was a game changer. By 2010 Ofsted had stated that London had a higher proportion of good and outstanding schools than any other English region. Yes, my mother was a hard-working and enterprising British-Nigerian who always prioritized my education, but the abundance of good local public schools surely helped.

The key to any solution, therefore, is not to take a suspicious eye on one of the few areas where Bame’s communities are most successful, but to look at what worked in London and apply it to the rest of England. This is not only less divisive than inflammatory references to “awakened teachers“And” critical race theory, “but it is more likely to be successful. the Opportunity North East Initiative – a multi-million dollar government-run program to improve social mobility and raise the aspirations of children in the Northeast – may well have a positive initial impact.

In other words, the key is to stop being so concerned about race and start thinking about public investment in the lives of those who were not lucky enough to be born within the M25.


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