Will Britain Ever Have a Black Prime Minister? aired on the BBC IN 2017, which looked at the relative average life chances of a Black British child progressing through life… NB Thank you kindly to whoever uploaded this to You Tube (it won’t be there forever, the BBC have unjustly removed this from iPlayer already)
In the summary below I focus on some of the educational disadvantages black children face highlighted by the programme…
Teachers mark black children’s test scores more harshly than other ethnic groups
For in-school test scores, the scores for black British students are consistently lower throughout schooling, until we get to the actual GCSE Results, when the scores of Black British students increase dramatically, with Black African students actually overtaking white British students.
The suggested explanation for this is that in school tests are marked by teachers who know their students and thus know their ethnicity, and that they have an unconscious bias against black students, and thus mark their test scores at a lower level, while GCSEs are marked independently – the markers do not know the students who sat them, and thus do not know their ethnicity: when the tests are marked in a neutral, unbiased way, the scores of black and white pupils are much closer together.
This is backed up by research conducted by Professor Simon Burgess which compared the results of test scores marked by teachers who knew the students sitting the tests (and hence their ethnicity) with the results of tests marked independently, where the markers did not know the ethnicity of the students who sat the tests: the results for some ethnic groups were lower when the teachers knew the ethnicity of the candidates, suggesting that there is an unconscious bias against certain ethnic groups.
A link to Professor Burgess’ (2009) research
This seems to be pretty damning evidence that teachers hold an unconscious bias against black students
Black students are less likely to get three As at A level than white students
Here we are told that….
- Only 4% of black children get 3 As or more at A level, compared to…
- 10% of white pupils
- 28% of independent school pupils, who are disproportionately white.
- In fact, the programme points out that you are more likely to be excluded from school if you are black than achieve 3 As at A-level
This seems to be less an example of evidence against black students, rather than evidence of the class-bias in A level results.
The Chances of being admitted to Oxford University are lower for black students compared to white students
The programme visits Oxford University, because every single Prime Minister (who has been to university) since 1937 has attended this bastion of privilege.
We are told that black applicants are less likely to be accepted into Oxford University than White students, even when they have the same 3 As as white students.
In an interview with Cameron Alexander, the then president of the African students union, he comes out and says that Oxford University is ‘institutionally racist’ and that structural factors explain the under-representation of black students – he points out the dominant culture of Oxford University is on of elite, white privilege, one in which staff identify more with independently schooled children, who have benefitted from the advantages of huge amounts of material and cultural capital; while they fail to identify with the hardships a black child from an inner city area may have faced – the result is that privileged white student has a higher change of being accepted into Oxford than a black student, even when they have the same grades as a the privileged white student.
As with the example of test scores above, at first glance this evidence seems damning, however, Oxford University has previously explained this by saying that black students have a higher rejection rate because they apply for harder courses on average than white students.
So what are the chances of a black person ever becoming Prime Minister…?
In short, a black person has a 17 million to 1 chance of becoming Prime Minister, compared to a 1 in 1.4 million chance for a white person…
Or in short… a black person is 12 times less likely to become Prime Minister in the U.K. compared to a white person…
Unfortunately this programme has already disappeared from iPlayer, despite the fact that anyone in Britain with a T.V. has already paid for it, which is just bang out of order.
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