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Understanding and responding to the ethnicity attainment gap Tony O’Shea-Poon Head of Equality and Diversity 23 June 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding and responding to the ethnicity attainment gap Tony O’Shea-Poon Head of Equality and Diversity 23 June 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding and responding to the ethnicity attainment gap Tony O’Shea-Poon Head of Equality and Diversity 23 June 2011

2 UK Undergraduates, modules at levels 2 and 3, % good pass 06/0707/0808/0909/10 White BME Attainment gap

3 3 UK Undergraduates, modules at levels 2 and 3, % good pass

4 4 Topics OU context Our strategic response 4 dilemmas (the 4 R’s) Current OU action plan

5 5 OU Context

6 6 Our vision of a fair and just society We are creating an inclusive university community and a society where people are treated with dignity and respect, where inequalities are challenged, and where we anticipate and respond positively to different needs and circumstances so that everyone can achieve their potential.

7 7 Our strategic response Leadership Understanding our performance Getting it recognised Sharing responsibility Reporting progress and performance

8 8 Dilemma 1: Reinforcing negative expectations Communicating explanations for the attainment gap may reinforce negative expectations and beliefs amongst tutors and students, resulting in unintended consequences.

9 9 Dilemma 2: Reductionism Language development alone is insufficient: Prior attainment Socio-economic circumstances Conceptions of learning Curriculum Bias/stereotypes

10 10 Dilemma 3: Racism Traditional perspective Racism is an exceptional occurrence Willingly enacted Driven by race hatred Critical perspective Racism is extensive and taken-for-granted Enacted through ‘colour blind’ policy and rhetoric Sustained by actions that are assumed to apply fairly to all

11 11 Racism and Black students Under-estimate academic ability Over-estimate challenge and threat Discipline Black students more severely Disproportionately place Black students in lower ranked teaching groups

12 12 NUS research “Respondents regularly cited racial and cultural bias among lecturers as a deterrent to their overall satisfaction and attainment” “Some students...believed that their teachers did not provide the same level of attention or encouragement they would to non-Black students...respondents pointed to a lack of support and constructive feedback...”

13 13 OU Health & Social Care research “My tutor...always marked me down...and it’s quite soul destroying when you’ve put so much effort in...I couldn’t understand how I’d get such a bad mark in my essays and then in my exams I was getting merits...” …Learning from successful Black students in Health and Social Care, June 2011

14 14 Dilemma 4: Resources Spending cuts Squeezed resources A defence for inaction?

15 15 OU ethnicity and attainment action plan Student Support Tutor Support Curriculum Systems & Information Research & Evaluation

16 16 Why it matters… “A wealth of evidence shows that education is a key determinant of life chances. As well as being a right in itself, education is an enabling right, allowing individuals to develop the skills, capacity and confidence to secure other rights and economic opportunities.” Equality and Human Rights Commission How fair is Britain? The first Triennial Review


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