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Black Pupils' Achievment

In this country, black pupils have made some of the most significant improvements at GCSE over all pupils nationally, and in comparison to pupils from other minority ethnic groups, over the past five years. That achievement is down to their hard work and the commitment of their teachers.

Performance of black (and other minority ethnic) groups has improved faster than the rest of the cohort in the past three years. The 5+ A*-C (including English and Maths) GCSE attainment gap between black pupils and the cohort average in 2009 was 6.3 percentage points, compared to a 10.4 percentage point gap in 2006.

In general black children’s exam performance has improved. Within that broad category there are subgroups that aren’t doing so well. Specifically the performance of black Caribbean boys in the early secondary years, so it’s a mixed picture. We are making progress, but some unacceptably large gaps remain.

As a result of significant targeted investment through school improvement programmes, including London Challenge, the Gifted and Talented programme, and the Black Pupils' Achievement Programme (which ended in August 2008), we have made significant gains in improving the education outcomes for students and we continue to make good progress.

Academies are one of the most powerful tools we have for raising standards in deprived areas. There are now 203 Academies, 51 of them in London, in areas which have too often been neglected in the past.

Results in these schools are improving at a faster rate than the national average, and their pupils are getting opportunities not offered to them by previous school provision.

Workforce

In 2009 in England, the proportion of teachers from ethnic minorities (in primary and secondary schools) has increased from 9.4 percent in 2004 to 11.3 percent in 2009 (this includes all ethnic categories except white British). (Statistical First Release 2009)

Exclusions

While there is much to celebrate, there are still barriers to black children’s success. Black Caribbean and mixed white and black Caribbean (BC/MWBC) boys are 2.8 times more likely to be permanently excluded than their white peers, compared to 3 times more likely in 2006/07. Permanent exclusion of black Caribbean boys has dropped 7.4 % from 270 to 250 since 2006/07; such exclusions have reduced from 0.57 % to 0.53 % of the school population. Fixed period exclusions of black Caribbean pupils have decreased from 11800 (12.7% of the school population) to 10180 (11.1%).

Priority Review and Black Caribbean Project

Following the Priority Review Getting it. Getting It Right published in September 2006 (the Wanless report), the Department of Children Schools and Families (DCSF) began a project in September 2007 to reduce exclusions of black Caribbean and mixed White and black Caribbean (BC/MWBC) pupils.  Twelve local authorities and almost eighty schools took part. Local authorities and schools were chosen following disproportionate exclusions of BC/MWBC pupils. This suggested local authorities beyond London should be included. Materials were developed as part of the project covering: use of data to close the exclusion gap; pupil perception; development of a whole school ethos; and a solution focused approach.

A DVD has also been produced to support the materials which are available on the National Strategies website.

Sir Alan Steer’s report on behaviour, published in April 2009, recommended that high-excluding local authorities should be supported and challenged. National Strategies regional advisers have started a programme of work to challenge authorities since the summer term 2009.  Disproportionate black Caribbean exclusion rates are one of the factors in choosing the local authorities to be supported and challenged.

Regional advisors will work with local authorities and a member of the senior management team in schools where there are disproportionate exclusions of BC/MWBC pupils.

Impact of Project

Anecdotal evidence has shown that schools involved have put in place strategies to address disproportionate exclusions. Local authorities have found the materials helpful when supporting and challenging exclusions.  It is too early to demonstrate with hard data if current work has reduced exclusions, since there is a time lag in the availability of data. National work has started to become fully embedded since 2009/10 and exclusions data for this period will not be available until summer 2011.

Behaviour and Attendance Partnerships

One of the priority outcomes set out in guidance for behaviour and attendance partnerships will be to reduce the need for permanent exclusions, and especially to reduce the disproportionately high rate of exclusions amongst black and minority ethnic pupils. Progress on this will form part of the annual report partnerships make to Children's Trust Boards.

Monitoring

We will be monitoring the impact of the materials through annually published LA-level exclusions data available on our website.

Further data on permanent exclusions by ethnicity for local authority was published on 8th October 2009.

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Dan Evans

Dan Evans has led the team on Exclusions and Alternative Provision in the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) since 2008.