Black Caribbean pupils are being held back at school because teachers are institutionally racist, says a study.
Staff set the children easier exams because they have low expectations about their behaviour, attitudes and abilities, according to Government-funded research.
Teachers’ perceptions are fuelled by a black Caribbean antischool “street” culture which places little value on academic achievement, claims the report.
The study by researchers at Warwick University found, however, that parents of ethnic minority pupils—including black Caribbean students—had higher aspirations for their children than white parents.
However, the study warned that “institutional processes” in schools were leading to discrimination against ethnic minority youngsters—and black Caribbean pupils in particular.
Some teachers had such negative views of black pupils they even resorted to “pre-emptive disciplining”, researchers found.
The researchers analysed national test results for 14-yearolds by ethnic group. These tests are split into tiers so pupils of different abilities can tackle questions of an appropriate standard.
They found that black Caribbean 14-year-olds were less likely to be entered for the toughest papers in maths and science than white pupils with similar backgrounds and academic records. Any racism was “more subtle” than racism based on colour since there was less evidence of bias against black African pupils and Asian pupils, they say.
Perceptions of black Caribbean pupils may stem from a street subculture that regards academic achievement as “uncool”, suggested the study.
“It encourages school staff to expect black pupils to be worse behaved, more disaffected and less motivated,” say researchers.
But the report commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, was criticised by headmasters’ leaders.
“If the insinuation is that there is institutional racism in the teaching force, we would refute that,” said Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers.