• Tikly, Leon P (Principal Investigator)
  • Caballero, Chamion M (Researcher)
  • Haynes, Jo (Researcher)
  • Hill, John (Collaborator)

Project Details


In March 2003, a team from the University of Bristol working in association with Birmingham Local Education Authority (LEA) was commissioned by the DfES (Department for Education and Skills) to conduct research into the educational needs of mixed heritage pupils with specific reference to the barriers to achievement faced by White/Black Caribbean pupils. Qualitative research was carried out in fourteen schools in six LEAs (primary schools with more than 10% of mixed heritage pupils and secondary schools with more than 5% of mixed heritage pupils). Quantitative data from the DfES National Pupil Database are also reported.

Layman's description

The aim of this project is to better understand the educational needs of children of mixed heritage (i.e. children whose parents are each from different racial and/or ethnic backgrounds).The focus is on raising the educational achievement of those categories of mixed heritage pupils who are 'at risk' of underachieving.

Although there is a growing body of evidence about the educational achievement of other minority ethnic groups, little is known about the educational needs of mixed heritage pupils.

This is despite the fact that mixed heritage is the third largest category of minority ethnic learners in England and is also the fastest growing. 'Mixed heritage', however, does not represent a homogenous category.

Using the existing census categories, there are four main groups of mixed heritage learners

White/ Black Caribbean
White/ Black African
White Asian
Existing evidence suggests that whereas White/ Asian pupils are performing very well, there are serious achievement issues with the White/ Black Caribbean group.

The project will commence with quantitative mapping exercise of the relative achievement of the different categories of mixed heritage learners using data from the 2003 Pupil Level Annual Census (PLASC) data linked to attainment data from SATS.

The second part of the research involves in-depth, qualitative case study work in fifteen schools across four LEAs. Schools are selected because they contain significant proportions of mixed heritage learners.

Key findings

➢The attainment of White/Black Caribbean pupils is below average, the attainment of White/Black African pupils is similar to average in primary schools and slightly below average in secondary schools and the attainment of White/Asian pupils is above average.
➢The key barriers to achievement facing pupils of White/Black Caribbean origin are in many cases similar to those faced by pupils of Black Caribbean origin. They are more likely to come from socially disadvantaged backgrounds; are more likely to experience forms of institutionalised racism in the form of low teacher expectations; and, are more likely to be excluded from school.
➢White/Black Caribbean pupils also face specific barriers to achievement. Low expectations of pupils by teachers often seem based on a stereotypical view of the fragmented home backgrounds and ‘confused’ identities of White/Black Caribbean pupils. These pupils often experience racism from teachers and from their White and Black peers targeted at their mixed heritage. This can lead to the adoption of what are perceived to be rebellious and challenging forms of behaviour.
➢The barriers to achievement experienced by White/Black Caribbean pupils operate in a context where mixed heritage identities (including those of White/Black Caribbean, White/Black African and White/Asian pupils) are not recognised in the curriculum or in policies of schools and of LEAs. In the case of White/Black Caribbean pupils, their invisibility from policy makes it difficult for their underachievement to be challenged.
➢In those schools where White/Black Caribbean pupils achieve relatively highly they often benefit from inclusion in policies targeted at Black Caribbean learners, with whom they share similar barriers to achievement and with whom they often identify.
➢Even in these schools, however, the specific barriers to achievement faced by White/Black Caribbean learners are rarely explicitly addressed.
Effective start/end date1/09/031/09/04

Structured keywords

  • PolicyBristolEducation
  • Ethnicity
  • Achievement
  • WUNeducation
  • SPAIS Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship


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