Black Caribbean Pupils

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<p>British Educational Research Journal Vol. 31, No. 4, August 2005, pp. 481508</p> <p>Achievement of Black Caribbean pupils: good practice in Lambeth schoolsFeyisa Demie*Research and Statistics Unit, Lambeth Education, London, UK (Submitted 24 February 2004; conditionally accepted 30 April 2004; accepted 27 May 2004)</p> <p>The aim of this research article is to investigate how pupils from Black Caribbean backgrounds are helped to achieve high standards in British schools and to identify a number of significant common themes for success in raising the achievement. It draws evidence of good practice from 13 case study schools in the local education authority (LEA). The main findings of the research carried out show that Key Stage 2 (KS2) and General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) results have improved significantly in the case study schools in the last seven years and all schools are performing above national average with Black Caribbean pupils. The study has also identified a number of good practices in successful schools. Among the key features that contribute to the success in the case study schools for raising the achievement of Black Caribbean are: strong leadership with emphasis on raising expectations for all pupils and teachers; the use of performance data for school self-evaluation and tracking pupils performance; a commitment to creating a mesmerising curriculum where teachers use their creative intuition to deepen the quality of pupils learning; a highly inclusive curriculum that meets the needs of Black Caribbean pupils; a strong link with the community and a clear commitment to parents involvement; good and well coordinated support to Black Caribbean pupils through extensive use of learning mentors and role models; an inclusive curriculum and a strong commitment to equal opportunities with a clear stand on racism. This article discusses in detail these good practices and pattern of KS2 and GCSE performance by ethnicity to illustrate difference in attainment. Overall, the finding of this case study LEA confirms that in good schools Black Caribbean pupils do well and buck the national trend against all odds. The reasons for this success story are all to do with education provided in the LEA and schools. The implications of the research for all concerned with school improvement receive much attention.</p> <p>*Research and Statistics Unit, Lambeth Education, International House, Canterbury Crescent, London SW9 7QE, UK. E-mail: fdemie@lambeth.gov.uk ISSN 0141-1926 (print)/ISSN 1469-3518 (online)/05/040481-28 # 2005 British Educational Research Association DOI: 10.1080/01411920500148705</p> <p>482 F. Demie Introduction In recent years considerable attention has been devoted to the issue of Black Caribbean underachievement in British schools. However, despite much academic debate and policy makers concern about underachievement in schools, the needs of Black Caribbean pupils have not been addressed in the education system and have largely been neglected. Unfortunately, it is an unacknowledged problem at national level and there are no specific effective initiatives to address the situation (Office for Standards in Education [Ofsted], 2002; Demie 2003b). The biggest obstacles to raising Caribbean achievement are the colour blind approach, which has put the group at a disadvantage, and the failure of the National Curriculum to adequately reflect the needs of a diverse, multiethnic society (Macpherson, 1999; Gillborn, 2002). The reason for the lack of intervention may be that it was felt that some of the governments existing policies and initiatives such as the National Literacy and Numeracy strategies, Excellence in Cities and Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG) strategies, in which targeted resources were put into LEAs [local education authorities] and some geographical areas, would address the issues of the underachievement of certain groups (Demie 2003b, p. 244). However, the evidence from a number of research studies confirms that these national priorities and strategies do not address the needs of Caribbean pupils (Gillborn &amp; Mirza, 2000; Gillborn &amp; Youdell, 2000; Demie, 2003b; Gillborn, 2002). There is no overall, binding theme throughout the programmes that recognises Caribbean achievement as an issue and presents coherent and consistent strategies to address it, particularly in relation to teaching and learning styles.</p> <p>Figure 1. GCSE achievement in 2003 by ethnic background</p> <p>Achievement of Black Caribbean pupils 483 Evidence from national data suggests that the gap in performance is widening as a result of a number of government initiatives and Black Caribbean children in Englands schools are not sharing the higher educational standards achieved over the last decade (see Figure 1; Demie 2003b, Gillborn &amp; Mirza 2000; Department for Education and Skillls [DfES] 2003c). Such evidence reinforces the findings of previous research, which identified serious concerns about the extent to which the education system and schools were meeting the needs of Black Caribbean children (Rampton, 1981; Swann, 1985; Gillborn &amp; Gipps, 1996; Gillborn &amp; Mirza, 2000; Ofsted, 2002). The concerns persist and there is now a need for a detailed case study of successful schools in raising the achievement of Black Caribbean pupils as a means of increasing our understanding of the ways in which schools can enhance pupils academic achievement. The review of previous research into underperforming groups of pupils in educational achievement also revealed that there has been little research into how the experience of successful schools may be disseminated within the LEA to address underachievement in other similar schools. The first step in answering these questions is to identify the factors that contribute to their success. For this reason Ofsted recently looked at examples of schools that provide an environment in which Black Caribbean pupils flourish (Ofsted, 2002, p. 2). The aims of the research The aim of this research was to identify a number of significant common themes for success in raising the achievement of Caribbean heritage pupils. These include leadership and management, curriculum provision, developing a culture of high expectations and a commitment to community representation. The study also sought to investigate how pupils from Black Caribbean backgrounds are helped to achieve high standards in schools, and will be a catalyst for influencing the culture of the LEA and getting schools to talk about their own practices in relation to their Caribbean students. Methodological approach of the research The methodological approach used in this study is case study of selected successful schools. Twenty- two successful schools were identified from LEA research and statistics data on the basis of academically above average or improving schools with a minimum of 15% Caribbean heritage pupils. Of these, 10 primary and 3 secondary schools were selected for detailed case study. The z-score disadvantage index factor was used to ensure a good spread of schools. The schools selected serve an area of high socio-economic deprivation. The lowest percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals in these schools is 37% and the highest 44%, with average of 39%. A detailed study was carried out of how well Black Caribbean pupils were achieving and the factors contributing to this, including the school curriculum, the</p> <p>484 F. Demie quality of teaching and learning, how the school monitored pupils performance and used data, how it supported and guided the pupils and the schools links with parents and the wider community . This involved detailed examinations of school and LEA data, documentation and observation with colleagues from the school to inform dialogue about what works and why. Interviews and discussions were held with staff, parents, pupils and governors. The research team adopted a collaborative co-inquiry approach by asking everyone with whom we came into contact in the course of our school visits to reflect in some detail on their successful strategies with individual pupils of Caribbean heritage. Clearly, in adopting such an approach, the confidentiality of individual pupils had to be respected, but it is often only when members of a school staff were asked to put a face to the strategies, that the dialogue really came to life. The schools involved in the project were prepared to share and reflect on their practice, not because they felt their practice was the best or necessarily replicable in other schools. On initial contact, many of the schools did not feel that they did anything special or different for their Black Caribbean pupils; one or two were uncomfortable with the notion that individual groups of pupils were singled out for special attention. Many of the strategies described in this research article, it was argued, are also effective for other underperforming pupils, but as there is hardly any empirical evidence to support these contentions, this was the focus of this research project. We (the members of the research team) acknowledge that the strategies to remove the barriers to achievement for Black Caribbean pupils are designed to combat or counter the impact of poverty, racism, social and economic disadvantage on all pupils in Lambeth. Once we were in schools, heads, teachers, teaching assistants, learning mentors, premises managers, governors and not least of all pupils and their parents were all keen to engage in the discourseto be part of honest conversations about what works and why in raising the achievement of Black Caribbean pupils in their schools.</p> <p>The Lambeth context This research article considers evidence from Lambeth Local Education Authority. The LEA is one of the most ethnically, linguistically and culturally diverse boroughs in Britain. About 73% of pupils are from Black and ethnic minority groups. The 2001 census shows that there were 28,384 pupils in the LEA schools. Of these, English/Scottish/Welsh pupils formed the largest ethnic group with 23.6%, followed by Caribbean at 22.8%, African at 22.1%, Other Black 11%, Other White 7.2% and Portuguese 4.6%. Recent research in Lambeth has shown that the LEA has a number of successful primary and secondary schools that offer good education to Black Caribbean pupils (see Demie, 2003b). Figure 2 shows the difference in performance between schools by the main ethnic groups. In 22 schools, Caribbean pupils are performing above national and LEA averages. Overall, the LEA research findings show how well schools can do, whatever their circumstances. They also confirm that there is a wide</p> <p>Achievement of Black Caribbean pupils 485</p> <p>Figure 2. Key Stage 2 performance by major ethnic groups 2001 (level 4+)</p> <p>486 F. Demie range of performance between schools within the LEA. However, while overall there is a relationship between ethnicity and achievement at Key Stage 2 (KS2), the National Curriculum test taken at age 11, some schools with high levels of disadvantage also have excellent results with English/Scottish/Welsh, Caribbean and African children, including boys (Demie, 2001). These schools might be considered to be doing better than expected and may be seen as benchmarks for success. In contrast, there are schools with low scores based on the indicators above which attained a lower percentage at level 4 or above. These schools with lower scores at KS2 might be considered to be doing less well than expected. Our benchmarking information is based on a crude analysis, but confirms that there is a wide range of performance between schools within the LEA when ethnicity factors are taken into account. It has also been argued in previous research that there is much innovation to celebrate in Lambeth schools, but our knowledge of good practice in these schools is very limited (see Demie, 2003c). It called for research into good practice in Lambeth schools. The key challenge for the LEA was to find out what some of the schools are doing and why these strategies are proving to be effective in raising achievement levels of Black Caribbean pupils. Main findings The attainment of Black Caribbean pupils in the case study schools The previous section covered the attainment of Black Caribbean pupils in the context of the overall national performance. The purpose of this section is to examine in detail the attainment of Black Caribbean pupils in the case study schools in Lambeth, comparing them with other schools in the LEA that are not included in the project. In order to keep the amount of data to a minimum and to give credit for overall performance, average performance data across all subjects was used for KS2 and KS3 evidence.</p> <p>Table 1. KS2 Performance trends of Black Caribbean pupils in the case study schools, 19982002 KS2 (Level 4 +) 1998 % 48 50 49 55 64 1999 % 63 56 57 64 73 2000 % 78 65 67 71 77 2001 % 81 65 68 73 78 2002 % 81 64 67 72 78 Improvement % 34 14 18 17 14</p> <p>Black Caribbean pupils in case study schools Black Caribbean pupils other LEA schools Black Caribbean pupils all schools LEA average National average</p> <p>*Note the LEA and national data in this report is not related to Black Caribbean national averages, due to lack of data. It is an average of all ethnic groups. Care needs to be taken in the interpretation of the data used and groups in this table.</p> <p>Achievement of Black Caribbean pupils 487</p> <p>Figure 3. KS2 performance of Black Caribbean pupils in all case study schools: LEA and national comparison (% level 4+)</p> <p>Key Stage 2 attainment at the end of primary education Lambeth has many excellent primary schools that offer good education to Black Caribbean pupils and where pupils achieve results above the national average. There is much to celebrate about the achievement of Black Caribbean pupils, particularly in the case study schools and a number of other LEA schools. Table 1 and Figure 3 show the attainment of Black Caribbean pupils in KS2 tests compared with the performance of Black Caribbean pupils in other LEA schools. The main findings from the data show:</p> <p>N N N</p> <p>attainment of Black Caribbean pupils has been consistently high for many years and above national and LEA averages; Black Caribbean pupils in the case study schools make good progress and consistently do better than the Black Caribbean pupils in other LEA schools; the improvement rate of Black Caribbean pupils in the case study schools is impressive and the rate of improvement is faster than for all other schools. Between 1998 and 2002, the schools in the case study improved their KS2 results from 48% to 81%up 34%. This compares with an improvement rate of 14% by other LEA schools, 18% for all schools.</p> <p>Table 2 and Figure 4 show the attainment of Black Caribbean pupils at KS3 and General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), compared with the data on Black Caribbean pupils in other LEA schools. Standards of performance of Black Caribbean pupils in the case stud...</p>

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