UK: Ethnic pupils overtake white Britons

UK: Ethnic pupils overtake white Britons 

Via Daily Mail:

Pupils from ethnic minorities match or outshine white British children in exams at age 16 despite lagging behind at five, a study shows today.

School league tables may encourage teachers to pay greater attention to pupils from black and Asian backgrounds, the research found.

It also suggested that peer pressure may influence how well different groups work at their studies.

The researchers, from University College London, said the achievement of ethnic minority pupils was an ‘amazing success story’.

Many struggle with English when they start school but they catch up with their white British counterparts or even overtake them as their language skills improve.

The study also found that league tables give teachers an incentive to focus on pupils on the borderline between D and C grades at GCSE, because the system rewards schools for ensuring pupils achieve at least five passes at grade C or above.


Black and Asian pupils are more likely than white British pupils to form part of this borderline group, and may therefore benefit from greater attention. For the study, published today in the Economic Journal, researchers analysed exam results for nearly 500,000 pupils.

They found that, at the ages of three and five, white British children outperformed their ethnic minority counterparts in tests of vocabulary and making patterns.

At seven, in English and maths tests, all ethnic minority groups with the exception of Chinese pupils were behind white British youngsters.

But by the end of compulsory schooling, when youngsters take GCSEs, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and black pupils from outside the Caribbean had caught up with their white British classmates, while Indian and Chinese pupils had overtaken them.

Only black Caribbean pupils remained slightly behind white British youngsters. The study found that improvements in language skills as ethnic minority pupils move through school was the biggest reason for closing the gap.