There are clear differences in the educational achievement of different ethnic groups. For example, in 2006, 73% of pupils of Indian origin gained 5 A*– C passes at GCSE compared with 56% of white and 47% of black pupils. Sociologists are interested in the causes of these inequalities in educational achievement. Some argue that ethnic differences in educational achievement are primarily the result of school factors. For example, Wright (1992) found that teachers perceived and treated minority ethnic pupils differently from white pupils. Afro-Caribbean boys were often expected to behave badly and they received a disproportionate amount of negative teacher attention. Other sociologists claim that non-school factors such as family structure and home background have a greater impact on the educational achievement of different ethnic groups.
Assess the claim that ‘ethnic differences in educational achievement are primarily the result of school factors’ (20 marks)
Patterns of ethnic achievement are complex, cross-cut by gender and social class. For example Black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi students do worst compared to Indians and Chinese who do best. White students are very close to the average but this is because they are the great majority of the school population .Among black and working class students, girls do better than boys, and among Asians boys do better than girls. Working class black girls do better than working class white girls. Many sociologists argue that ethnic differences in achievement can best be explained by looking at factors inside the school and outside the school.
As Item A suggests ‘Afro-Caribbean boys were often expected to behave badly and they received a disproportionate amount of negative teacher attention’ that teachers have lower expectations of black boys. These students then tend to be labelled as troublemakers and are seen as disruptive. Gillborn (2000) argues that this labelling to result in a self fulfilling prophecy in...