Ethnic Differences in Educational Achievement

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Assess the view that differences in educational achievement between ethnic groups are primarily the result of discrimination in schools [20] In terms of educational achievement, there is evidence of inequalities among different ethnic groups. For example, Whites and Asians on average do better than Blacks. Some would say that this is primarily the result of discrimination in schools, an internal factor. However this is not the case as it is due to external factors such as the influence of home and family background and wider society. On the one hand it could be said that it is down to discrimination in schools that there is evidence of ethnic differences in educational achievement. One example of discrimination in schools is labelling and teacher racism. Interactionists focus on the different labels teachers give to children from different ethnic backgrounds. Their studies show that teachers often see black and Asian pupils as being far from the ‘ideal pupil’. For example black pupils are often seen as disruptive. Gilborn and Youdell (2000) found that teachers were quicker to discipline black pupils than others for the same behaviour. They argue that this is the result of teachers ‘racialised expectations’. They found that teachers expected black pupils to present more discipline problems and misinterpreted their behaviour as threatening or as a challenge to authority. In turn, black pupils felt teachers underestimated their ability and picked on them. Gilborn and Youdell conclude that much of the conflict between white teachers and black pupils stem from the racial stereotypes that teachers hold, rather than the pupil’s actual behaviour. This disadvantages pupils because they are treated differently, which could result in their failure and even exclusion from school. As Jenny Bourne 1994) found that schools tend to see black boys as a threat and label them
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