3 Research Objectives To highlight the factors and conditions that lead to high attaining Black pupils. To explore strategies employed by exemplar schools that lead to high attaining Black pupils. To examine appropriate programmes such as Gifted and Talented and affects they may have on high attaining pupils.
4 The Fieldwork The interviews and focus groups for the fieldwork took place in the four participating schools, two each in Birmingham and London. The primary and secondary schools in Birmingham are referred to as Oak Primary and Birch Secondary and the two in London as Fig Primary and Elm Secondary.
5 Key Findings 3.1 Strong Leadership Each school had a strong head teacher, exhibiting well-developed leadership style. All heads appeared to be decisive, creative and flexible with clear expectations from staff. Heads were involved in activities in the communities that serve the schools and developed good partnerships with parents.
6 3.2 Teacher Expectations and Pupil Relationships Teachers had extremely high expectations of pupils and this was communicated to the children. This affected children’s responses to behaviour and to learning activities. The children experienced good relationships with teachers and there was a mutually respectful relationship between them.
7 3.4 Pupils’ Learning Styles Teachers’ responses to this issue varied. The researchers are aware of some recent criticisms levelled at attaching too much emphasis on learning styles. The data suggest Black pupils seem to respond better orally, contribute effectively to discussions and prefer speaking and listening tasks.
8 3.5 Pupils’ Attitude towards School Pupils had positive attitude towards their respective schools. Generally, pupils enjoyed school life and felt many teachers worked hard to ensure they maximized their potential. They spoke highly of their schooling and believed they were well-respected by teachers.
9 In one school which had a high Asian population, the Black children experienced racism from some Asian children, but generally teachers dealt with their concerns appropriately.
10 3.6 Parental Partnership and Involvement The researchers did not interview many parents due to limitations of the research. Both pupils and educators commented at length on the degree of parental support. A recurring theme from educators was the extremely high level of parental involvement.
11 One head teacher noted the ‘respect black families have for education.’ Pupils in both primary and secondary schools reported that parents strongly supported their education in practical ways.
12 In the primary schools parents participated in several curricular and extra-curricular activities. All the schools had an open door policy. This was more evident in the primary schools, but for obvious reasons more difficult to operate in the secondary ones.
13 3.7 Gifted and Talented Programmes In the case study schools, Gifted and Talented programmes were not solely based on pupils’ academic potential. The programmes catered for the varying academic, social and emotional needs of children. Gifted and Talented coordinators had a holistic approach to working with the high attaining pupils and all pupils.
14 3.8 Citizenship Involvement Citizenship involvement varied from school to school. In one secondary school pupils were engaged in community projects which had a direct bearing on their daily lives. Elm Secondary School had a ‘restorative justice’ model to dealing with pupils who experience ‘difficulties’ instead of implementing the traditional exclusion policy.
15 3.9 Specific Strategies and Awareness of Issues of Black Children All the heads demonstrated an impressive theoretical and practical understanding of a range of socio- economic issues and challenges Black children experience. They adhered to equality and inclusive policies reflected in their practices.
16 In Fig Primary, the head teacher adopted a pro-active approach to raising the levels of achievement of Black pupils. Teachers identify and track all pupils’ progress in order to raise achievement levels. Significantly, teachers are required to specifically identify Black children. Interestingly, the Black children in Fig Primary have consistently obtained high SATs scores.
17 3.10 SATs Attainment and Predicted GCSE Grades The levels of attainment among Black pupils in both primary and secondary schools under study are above the national average. Gender has been a significant factor in reports of achievement of African Caribbean pupils we analysed the data for any gender discrepancies.
18 SATs In general, pupils work between levels 2-5 in SATs and are expected to achieve at least level 4, as level 4 represents the nationally expected standards for 11-year-olds.
19 Attainment Levels in SATs For the primary data most of the pupils achieved level 5 in Maths, Science and English which is above the expected attainment level. At Oak Primary, the overall percentage of children obtaining level 5 was 78% with two pupils (a boy and girl) obtaining level 4 in Maths and two boys achieving level 4 in English. All pupils achieved level 5 in Science. At Fig Primary School 100% of the children achieved level 5 in English, Maths and Science.
20 Secondary - Predicted Grades In the Secondary sample, 100% of the pupils are expected to obtain 5 or more A* to C at GCSE. At Elm Secondary 83% (5 out of 6 pupils) are expected to obtain 10 or more GCSEs and at Birch 33% (2 out of 6 students) are expected to gain 10 GCSEs. Insignificant quantifiable gender differences in the attainment levels of pupils in both the primary and secondary data. But there were differences in attainment between schools.
21 4. Conclusion A number of factors and conditions combined resulted in high achievement among many Black children in the participating schools. These include, strong leadership, high teacher expectations, good teacher-pupil relationships, good partnership with parents and a high level of parental involvement, creative approaches to the curriculum and extra-curricular activities.
22 Also, head teachers’ awareness and understanding of the experiences of Black children together with the attitudes to schooling of the pupils themselves are all contributory factors. Pupils were highly motivated. Both teachers and parents have played a critical role in developing the pupils’ self-efficacy.
23 5. Activities/Materials for ITE Programmes The researcher would strongly suggest that ITE providers implement the following activities below as an integral and mandatory component of courses. Individual ITE providers may need to consider employing external consultants to work collaboratively with colleagues to deliver the activities.
24 Activity 1. Race and Education Activity 2. What is Racism? Activity 3. Reasons for Underachievement among African Caribbean Pupils Activity 4. History of Black People in Britain and their Contribution to British Society Activity 5. The Language of Black Pupils
25 Activity 6. Cultural Competence Activity 7. Closing the Achievement Gap Activities 8 and 9. Student Presentations Activity 10. Evaluation and Reflection of Activities
26 6. Guidelines and Recommendations ITE providers need to adopt strategic and creative approaches to recruiting trainee teachers from BME groups. Trainees need to be given knowledge of the histories and experiences of BME communities. Some institutions already have modules on issues of inclusion and diversity.
27 1.The TTA Standards on teaching minority ethnic pupils should be reviewed annually to critically assess its effectiveness. 2.Courses or modules in urban education which pay specific attention to race and race equality issues must be mandatory. 3.All students should have a mandatory placement in an urban inner city environment.
28 ITE providers should proactively recruit and retain BME tutors, particularly at senior levels. Recruitment of BME tutors may be difficult if using traditional approaches to recruitment. Non-traditional strategies such as recruiting through informal networks would be more effective.
29 1.When employing some BME tutors their ability to understand, translate and implement issues of cultural competency is important. Opportunities and ‘space’ must be given to BME tutors for professional development in these areas - if they so wish.
30 1.All tutors in ITE providers must be trained in cultural competency particularly in relation to African and African Caribbean cultures. ITE providers should therefore utilise external consultants for this training. 2.Training in cultural competency should also be a part of the trainees’ education.