In 1945 the UK needed rapid rebuilding, both structurally and in population re-growth. After the Second World War the UK’s population was virtually non-existent, with most males having died in the war, which meant that there were not enough people around to rebuild the country. This resulted in an economic boom with more jobs than people in the country at the time, and at the same time the UK was still managing her Empire in India and the Caribbean.
By the 1950’s there was a rapid increase in the technological industry, yet the UK was rapidly falling behind Europe technologically and was desperate to increase their technological market.The UK soon realised that they could not afford and Empire and the rapid technological development needed to rival the market of the rest of Europe, so the decision was made to create the Immigration Policy.
Afro-Caribbean immigrants were the first coloured people to arrive in the UK and were lured there by the promise of housing, employment and education, but what they found when they arrived in the UK was discrimination in housing, schooling and employment, especially in the types of jobs the immigrants were permitted to fulfil, they could work only in jobs such as bus drivers and underground attendants; only the lower status IV class non-skilled, manual jobs.Again, in the 1970’s, the Consumer revolution leads to the introduction of new food and fashion types and the South African immigration, the UK accepted all the Indian, Pakistani and Ugandan immigrants as cheap labour forces, for as long as the economic boom continues. But in the 1980’s an economic recession began meaning that unemployment increases due to the lack of goods being sold abroad.
The economic recession affected everybody in the UK, but especially the immigrant groups, as they were the first employees to be laid off. This was because the immigrants were hired by industries as periphery workers; these workers are the ones to be drafted in during economic boom periods but are then laid off when a company slump occurs. There was also discrimination in the education of ethnic minority children.Education policy went through three distinct phases, assimilation, multiculturalism, and anti-racist. Assimilation, during 1945 to the early 1970’s, was the educational policy that meant everyone entering the UK must be ‘made’ British; the curriculum taught only white versions of history, European geography only centring on the British empire, British religions and cultures taught in RE and second language students were sent to special needs units to learn English.
The next policy to be put into affect during the late 1970’s until the mid-1980’s was Multiculturalism, or the acknowledging of others, this policy made an effort to include other ethnicities by having special days and events to celebrate other cultures on a 1-day basis and made a step towards breaking down cultural barriers. This policy was often referred to as a ‘steel band, sari and samara education only as it gave a 1-day insight into other cultures but then went back to teaching about Britain and white history, customs, etc.The last and current policy is that of Anti-Racist education with the aim to ‘attack inequality’ and racism, reflect everybody equally, and to eradicate Euro centrism the idea that Europe is at the heart of everything that happens in the world. The curriculum has also changed to reflect world history, geography, languages, religions and cultures.
Statistics to show attainment of 5 or more grades by ethnic origin between 1989-2000, released by the UK Government Department of Education and Skills give a clear picture of the educational attainment of White, Black, Asian all, Asian Indian, Asian Pakistani, Asian Bangladeshi, Asian other including Chinese, and any other ethnic groups. The trend between 1994 and 2000, however, shows that almost all ethnic groups have steadily increased their attainment of grades.
The Asian category, however, differs greatly within itself with the different minorities scoring very different results with the different Asian groups holding both the highest and lowest achievers of 5 A*-C grades. We can see this in the statistics released by the Government, these show that Asian other â€“ including Chinese are the highest achievers of 5 A*-C grades between 1992 when the data became available and 2000 with 72 grade achievers in 2000 whilst Asian Pakistani, Asian Bangladeshi and Black groups are the lowest achievers throughout with only 29/30 grade achievers in the year 2000.
Showing that the initial views that ethnic minorities are intellectually inferior to whites is completely unsubstantiated and are, in many cases, more likely to achieve the 5 grades than the whites themselves are. The Swann Report of 1988 was a government commissioned report on the state of ethnic minority attainment in UK schools. It came in the light of concerns over Black and Afro-Caribbean pupils’ attained results in examinations and high level of permanent exclusions of young black males. The report looked in depth at school practice, and policy and highlighted several areas of concern.
It also noticed that one must be careful to distinguish which ethnic group one is referring to when discussing performance, as on the whole, Asian groups appear to do similarly to whites at most levels. In summary, the Swann report served the purpose of stimulating further sociological research within classrooms, homes and cultural upbringing A plausible explanation of ethnic differences in educational attainment is that they are due to various cultural factors, which might influence educational attainment. One such factor is language.In some Asian households English is not the main language used.
In some West Indian households ‘Creole’ or ‘patois’ are spoken. However, recent research evidence does not support the view that language is an important factor. A study by Geoffrey Driver and Roger Ballard found that by the age of 16, Asian children whose main home language was not English were at least as competent in English as their classmates. The Swann Report found that linguistic factorsmight hold back the progress of a few West Indian children, but for the vast majority they were of no significance.
Another factor considered to influence educational attainment in ethnic minorities is the nature of family life. From this point of view West Indians are held to have a family life, which fails to encourage children to do well in education and in which there is an inadequate provision of toys, books and stimulation from parents. It has also been suggested that the West Indian population of Britain has a high proportion of one-parent families and large numbers of workingwomen who leave their children without close parental supervision in the early years of their life.In contrast to West Indian families, Asian families are widely believed to be more close-knit and supportive of their children’s education.
In a summary of his report, Lord Swann suggested that ‘the Asian family structure, more tightly knit than either the white or the West Indian nay be responsible for their high levels of achievement. ‘ Geoffrey Driver and Roger Ballard claim that the majority of the original South Asian immigrants to Britain came from rural areas and had little form of education.However, their research suggests that parents soon developed high aspirations for their children’s education, and that parental attitudes may have contributed to their success. They say of Asian parents’ attitudes to their children ‘not only have they encouraged them to work hard at school, but they have generally been prepared to give considerable support to their children’s efforts to gain further qualifications.
‘ Driver and Ballard conclude that membership of the Asian ethnic minority is a ‘positive resource’ which helps rather than hinders their education.Perhaps the strongest attack on the British education system’s treatment of ethnic minorities has been advanced by Bernard Coard. He claims that the British education system actually makes black children become educationally subnormal by making them feel ‘inferior in every way’. He says of the black child, ‘in addition to being told he is dirty and ugly and ‘sexually unreliable’ he is told by a variety of means that he is intellectually inferior.
When he prepares to leave school, and even before, he is made to realize that he and ‘his kind’ are only fit for manual, menial jobs. Coard goes on to explain some of the ways in which this takes place:West Indian children are told that their way of speaking is second rate and unacceptable, the implication being that they themselves are second rate as human beings. The word ‘white’ is associated with good, the word ‘black’ with evil. Coard gives an example of a children’s book in which the ‘white unicorn’ and the ‘white boys’ are able to repel an attack by the violent and evil ‘black pirates’.
The content of the education that children receive tends to ignore black people.Reading books often contain only white people, and when blacks do feature they are normally shown as servants. Coard claims that the people whose lives are studied and acclaimed are white. Black culture, music and art are all conspicuous by their absence from the curriculum.
The pupils outside it reinforce the attitudes to race conveyed in the classroom. In the playground arguments white children may describe West Indian children as ‘black bastards’. Coard believes that these experiences have important consequences for the child.He believes that black children develop an ‘inferiority complex’, a ‘low self-image’, and ‘low expectations in life’.
Teachers expect black children to fail and this produces a self-fulfilling prophecy in which they live ‘up’ to the expectations once they have been labelled. Not only are black children placed in lower streams and bands in schools for the educationally subnormal, they themselves expect to fail, and as a result they do so. Coard’s views on the British education system have caused considerable controversy.They have been both supported and criticized by other writers.
Coard’s analysis was based upon impressionistic evidence and personal experience, but his argument that teachers hold stereotypical views of ethnic minorities has been supported by the research of Elaine Brittan. One of the solutions to racism and differential educational attainment is the development of separate schools for different ethnicities, much like the one created by John Loughborough the first ever state-funded Black secondary school.It is thought that separate schooling for ethnic groups would be advantageous as children would learn more about their religion or culture because it will be concentrated on more in education and can be used as a focus for minority faiths. Children that have had racial abuse can work better in their schools and not feel like an outcast any more due to the lack of bullying and racist behaviour.
The attainment of ethnic groups in mainstream schools is generally lower than the white population and can account for a different first language.Equally though, children would be separated from other cultures and won’t know about each other, therefore they would not be prepared for mixed religions/cultures in the working world. Ethnic minority groups with a different first language may not learn the English language efficiently as a second language. Separate schooling divides communities which may lead to lack of understanding in people in other cultures, equally, if single faith or culture only provides one set of norms and values, they may not recognise others.
Separate schooling can also be very expensive and exclusive meaning that even with separate schooling, many of the old issues of discrimination and segregation thus enhancing the problems already existent in mixed schooling. The variety of explanations examined above are not necessarily mutually exclusive. It is probable that a number of factors work together in producing the lower levels of achievement found in some ethnic minority groups. The Swann Report concluded that racial discrimination inside and outside school, along with social deprivation, were probably the main factors.
Although the Swann Report attached little importance to cultural factors, it seems possible that they play some part in explaining differences in levels of achievement between ethnic minorities, as well as between ethnic minorities and the rest of the population. Given the highly controversial nature of this issue it is not surprising that such varied explanations exist, and that a definitive answer to the question of why some ethnic minorities do poorly in education has not been reached.