Black pupils marked down by teachers

A group of academics who looked into the marks given to thousands of children at age 11 has revealed that teachers are systematically marking down black pupils because of stereotypes and low expectations.

The study found that black pupils perform consistently better in external exams than when it came to teacher assessments showing a clear racial bias.

Gloria Hyatt, a former secondary headteacher of black-Caribbean and Irish heritage mentioned in the Guardian today that the results did not surprise her. She said that she had met teachers who believed that black people are great at sports but less able when it comes to academic pursuits.

Hyatt even said that it would be difficult to tackle the pervasive generalisations about black pupils and believes that equal opportunity legislation would not be able to tackle this.

In 2005 campaigners marched outside Downing Street protesting against the education system which they felt has failed black children. The campaigners said that institutional racism played a great part in why black children are failing. An example of this is reflected in the exclusion rates where black boys are three times more likely to be excluded than whites.

Wade Jacks, from Clapham in south London, said, “It is in secondary schools that the problems start. Teachers often see black boys as the horrid figure of a ‘black man’ that the media portrays.” (Cookson 2005)

Valerie, from Islington in north London, said, “A lot of black children are being excluded. This isn’t because they are ruder than white children, but because the system — and some teachers — are not working for our children.” (Cookson 2005)

Leaders of the NUS Black Students Campaign have written to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) demanding an investigation into why there is a lack of black teaching staff in primary and further education.

On April 30, 2003, the Sunday Mercury revealed that 5 teachers from black and minority ethnic backgrounds were being forced out of their jobs every year in the Midlands because of racism.

One teacher said, “I was constantly called racist names and told that no-one wanted to be taught by a black bitch like me. I was told that if I gave a detention, I would be beaten up by the child’s dad. I even had death threats which have left me emotionally weak. I had to leave my job.”

At the time National Union of Teachers (NUT) spokesman Brian Carter told the Sunday Mercury, “It is a worrying factor but it seems to be a reflection of the attitudes in society in general.”

A ten-day survey of schools nationwide revealed that in those ten days, nine cases of racist abuse against teachers was recorded.

The education system is the backbone of the future workforce and evidently there are deep concerns among many parents from black and minority ethnic backgrounds that it is deliberately holding back their children.

From the evidence Hyatt is right that these types of attitudes will not be eradicated overnight.

More teachers from black and minority ethnic backgrounds could be an answer, but how long will that take to implement?

According to the Guardian report London Metropolitan University has more black students than the country’s top 20 universities put together but there still remains a lack of black teaching staff.

Last month Maurice Smith, the former chief inspector of schools and an official from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), led the inquiry reviewing race relations policy in schools and felt it was appropriate to consult members of the National Front to decide whether teachers from far-right organisations should be allowed to teach. Maurice concluded that teachers should be allowed to teach even if they are members of far-right organisations.

He said “I do not believe that barring teachers or other members of the wider school workforce from membership of legitimate organisations which may promote racism is necessary at present, although it should be kept under active review.” (Read Racist teachers allowed to teach)

This was a decision from a government department to allow teachers who are members of far-right organisations to teach black and minority ethnic pupils. If this was about Muslim teachers who were believed to be members of organisations which were anti-west it can be safely concluded that the decision would not be the same.

The battle to create an education system in Britain that will be fair to black pupils is obviously an uphill struggle, however there is nothing preventing black teachers from applying for funding, private or public to run their own schools, colleges and even universities. Black educational establishments have been successful in America and provides an alternative to the mainstream educational system which continues to restrict non white pupils academically.

Some serious thought should be given to similar projects in Britain.

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2 thought on “Black pupils marked down by teachers according to report”
  1. I posted this in response to a mis quote regarding a number of statements I made to an editor from the Guardian re the “Pupils marked down report” written on 4th April 2010

    For those who have no insight into my race politics or my work around race and education you may well believe the mis quote that claims I said,

    “This is not discrimination or racism,” said Hyatt. “It is something unconscious” I did not nor would I ever suggest that racism is not a factor that permeates the life experiences and academic outcomes of many black pupils.

    In my response to the editor of this report I made no reference to the word racism directly, the obvious does not need to be overstated! My response outlined the difficulty in providing straight forward and transparent evidence that discrimination or cultural bias was the only reason behind some teachers behaviour when involved in the assessment of Ethnic Minority pupils. To substantiate this point further I responded to the editor by claiming that the behaviour of some teachers may be concious or unconsious when involved in behaviour that may be deemed culturally bias. I suggested that this was due to a lack of intercultural competencies on the part of some teachers. I further qualified this point by suggesting teachers could benefit from Continuing Professional Development through use of a training tool that would reduce or eliminate the incident of cultural bias.

    Unfortunately, regardless of how elequently we cite the case, when it has anything to do with the “elephant in the corner of the room,” racism, it can be misunderstood, misconstrued and reported incorrectly in the media.

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