Left and Right Wing Media Bias – Coverage of Dominic Cummings

Same news event, two very different ways of covering it!

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The way the Sun and the Mirror covered yesterday’s news about Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham during Lockdown when he and his wife had Coronavirus symptoms demonstrates the clear biases of the two newspapers.

These are great examples of media bias for the media topic within A-level sociology .

The Right Wing Sun

Donald Cummings has strongly neoliberal views and was very pro-brexit (hence why he’s been working with Boris), as is The Sun.

So what how does the Sun ‘set the agenda’: It goes with another headline and gives us a small headline on Cummings – and notice the quote – from Cummings, and a defiant sub title from The Sun.

The Left Wing Mirror

The Mirror, in stark contrast to The Sun devotes the whole page the Cummings story, and note the main text – ‘No Regrets’, ‘No Apology’ – implying that’s what we were expecting, given that he’s clearly broken the law, as we’re reminded top right.

Note that The Sun doesn’t even mention this – it’s just Cummings ‘doing what is right’ – already taking us away from what he did.

And there’s similar examples of bias in the full storys on pages 4-5 of both newspapers

The Sun…

The Sun reminds us that Cummings ‘did not break the law’ and then focuses on just copying word for word what Cummings said, reiterating and thus justifying his point of view.

The Mirror

Starts off with a quote from an expert and the article here is more on other people’s comments and the negative affects (masses of people on the beach)

So, same event, two very different versions which clearly show how biased the media is, and how they clearly use agenda setting to try and sway the public’s opinion.

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Gilborn and Youdell – Rationing Education

This study demonstrates how marketisation polices and racialised banding and streaming disadvantage black students in education.

Gilborn and Youdell (2000, 2001) studied two London Comprehensive schools (which they called Taylor and Clough) over two years, focussing on Key Stage 4 (ages 14-16) and GCSE results.

They used a mixed methods approach using classroom observation, interviews and the analysis of secondary documents.

Black students underachieving compared to white students

Gilborn and Youdell noted that in both schools, white students where achieving twice as many good passes (A-C) as white students.

Differential educational achievement by ethnicity was even starker when they compared those achieving a grade C or above in Maths, English and Science Subjects. In Clough school, 18% of white students achieved this, but only 4% of black students. In Taylor school, 37% of students managed it, but 0% of black students!!!

GCSE Tiers and and Educational Triage

Gilborn and Youdell believe that the introduction of tiers at GCSE was the main underlying reason for the ethnic differences in achievement outlined above.

Different GCSE tiers meant that students sat different papers based on their perceived ability – higher ability students got harder papers, which would allow them the opportunity to achieve an A, while lower ability students sat an easier exam paper, where the maximum grade they could achieve was a C.

14-16 education in both schools was organised through banding and streaming: students were put in the top bands if teachers believed they had the ability to sit the higher tier, more difficult exam paper, but restricted to the lower bands if it was thought their maximum potential was a C grade.

Gilborn and Youdell further argued that the schools operate a ‘triage’ system based on the perceived ability of the students.

Triage is a military-medical term which describes how medical treatment for wounded soldiers is rationed:

  1. Those who need urgent treatment to survive are prioritized
  2. Those with less urgent, non life threatening needs are dealt with later
  3. Hopeless cases are left to die

Educational Triage works along similar lines, with schools rationing education based on the perceived chances of a student gaining five good (A-C) GCSEs.

  1. Borderline students who could get 5 good GCSEs but need help to do so are prioritized.
  2. More able students who will probably get 5 good GCSEs anyway are dealt with as necessary
  3. Hopeless cases are written off.

Racialised Expectations

Gilborn and Youdell believed that teachers were not intentionally racist, in fact most of them were committed to equality of opportunity.

However, they also found that teachers tended to have lower expectations of black students compared to white students, which resulted in them being put in the lower sets, and written off as having no hope of ever achieving five good GCSE grades.

In Clough School for example, 29% of white students but 38% of black students where written off into the lower sets.

One of the reasons for lower expectations was because teachers often believed black students had a harder home life with higher poverty levels and high rates of absent fathers, making studying at home difficult, hence they often judged that black students would be less able to cope with the higher levels of work demanded of being put into higher tiers.

Gilborn and Youdell also found that teachers expected to have more discipline problems with black students and that ‘control and punishment’ should be given a higher priority than ‘academic concerns’.

When interviewed the black students themselves felt discriminated against tended to believe that their entry into low sets and lower tiered papers was not warranted based on their academic performance.

However, if black students questioned their low predicted grades or why they were in a lower set this would be seen as a challenge or a threat to authority rather than a legitimate councern.

Conclusions/ evaluations and relevance to A-level sociology

This is a useful study to show how the macro (marketisation policy) and micro (teacher labelling ) aspects of education work together to disadvantage black students.

However, given the current trends in educational achievement, with black Caribbean students catching up with white students, I wonder how relevant this is today.

I also have to wonder how representative these schools were. To have no black students in one of those schools achieving a grade C in English, Maths or Science, that has to be extremely rare?

Adapted from Harlambos and Holborn (2013) Sociology Themes and Perspectives, edition 8.

A-level sociology of education: course summary, schemes of work and lesson plans

I’ve been consolidating my A-level sociology planning recently, and I’ve concluded it’s useful to have several different versions of module summaries and schemes of work, as below:

  • A mind map overview/ summary
  • A Power Point overview/ summary
  • A brief scheme of work
  • A long scheme of work
  • Detailed individual lesson plans.

All of these are based on the AQA’s specification, for the education topic.

Mind map overview of education

This is mind map number 1, the Borg equivalent of Unimatrix Zero. There are many other mind maps which branch off it – each colour thread itself becomes the central focus for more mind maps!

Power Point overview of education

Should need no explanation, about as brief as it can get.

Brief education Scheme of Work

A very brief version to be displayed in classrooms, an at a glance’ version so students can see where they are in the course and what’s coming next.

Long education Scheme of Work

This is a grid consisting of sub-topics, concepts, research studies, assessment and resources for each sup-topic. This more in-depth version follows the AQA specification rigidly and should include everything students need to know.

NB this is slightly different to the overview and lesson plans as some ‘lessons’ go beyond the specification or fuse different areas of it together.

Linear versions of all of the above.

Some students may prefer the linear versions of the above, which can be quite useful if used as check lists.

Detailed Lesson Plans  

These are really for teachers only, and contain detailed minute by minute lesson plans with aims and objectives, resources and extension ideas.

New Resource: Sociology of Education teaching bundle.

All of the above are available as part of my ‘sociology of education teaching bundle’. One downloadable bundle including fully modifiable teaching resources in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. Only £19.99, or as part of a monthly subscription package for £9.99 a month!

The bundle includes:

  • A detailed scheme of work covering the entire AQA specification for the Education topic 
  • 24 detailed lesson plans (topics below)
  • Six student work packs on Perspectives, class, gender, ethnicity and education policies. 
  • PowerPoints to accompany most lessons. 
  • Activities such as role play games, sentence sorts, gap fills. 

NB I have had to remove most of the pictures from these materials for copyright reasons, but the idea is that you can always add these in yourself to beautify them!

Lessons covered:

  1. An introduction to the sociology of education  
  2. The Functionalist perspective on education
  3. The Marxist perspective on education
  4. Neo-Marxism/ Paul Willis’ Learning to Labour
  5. The Neoliberal and New Right perspective on education
  6. The Postmodern view of education
  7. Consolidation Education Assessment Lesson – focussing on exam technique for the different types of question
  8. Exploring education, surveillance and social control.
  9. Social class and education: introduction and the role of material deprivation
  10. Social class and education: cultural deprivation and cultural capital
  11. Social class and education: the role of in school factors
  12. Ethnicity and education: introduction, material deprivation and cultural factors
  13. Ethnicity and education: the role of in-school factors
  14. Ethnicity and education: are schools institutionally racist?
  15. Gender and education: explaining gender differences in educational achievement
  16. Gender and education: gender identity in schools, subject choice and the Radical Feminist Perspective
  17. Education Policies: Historical Context, 1944 and 1965
  18. The 1988 Education Act
  19. New Labour’s Policies
  20. The Coalition and New Right policies
  21. Exploring selection and the priviatisation of education
  22. Should we abolish independent schools debate
  23. Globalisation and education
  24. Vocational education

Make your own exam questions

Generate your own exam questions for A-level sociology of education exam papers!

40 000 students should be sitting the A-level Sociology of Education with Theory and Methods Paper (7192/1) today, but they’re not because of Coronavirus.

In case you feel like you’re missing out, why not design your own exam paper and answer the questions for fun.

Below is a list of the main key words taken from the AQA’s A-level sociology specification, just the education topic:

A-level Sociology of Education Key Word List from Specification

the role of education

functions of the education system,

the economy

class structure

differential educational achievement

social class,

gender

ethnicity

teacher/pupil relationships,

pupil identities

subcultures

the hidden curriculum

the organisation of teaching and learning

educational policies

policies of selection,

marketisation policies

privatisation

policies to achieve greater equality of opportunity

experience of education

access to education globalisation

Make your own exam questions!

All you need to do to design your own questions is cut and past this list into this random word generator, click ‘create random anything’ and then you’ve got the basis for some 10 mark and 30 mark questions.

You have to be a bit creative to make up the questions, by adding in your own action words, but the question formats are quite limited in variety: 10 mark analyse questions ask for ‘two ways/ reasons’ and a 30 mark will ask to evaluate the extent to which something is true, so making up your own questions should be fairly easy to do.

Pupil Identities and the Functions of the Education system example

To take one example above, the generator randomly selected ‘pupil identities‘ and ‘functions of the education system‘, so two potential questions might look like the following:

  • Analyse two ways in which pupil identities might come into conflict with the functions of the education system (10)
  • Evaluate sociological perspectives on the relationship between the functions of the education system and pupil identities (30)

I’m not even sure if the above questions make sense, so answering them might be a challenge – maybe something about social control and hyper-masculinity and work related functions and class based identities.

NB both of the links above take you to two examples of 6 mark ‘outline’ questions I put together a while back, so they’ll give you some idea of how you might start to build up an answer to the more complex 10 and 30 mark questions.

Other random sociology word combinations I got:

  • policies of selection and pupil identities
  • social class and globalisation
  • marketisation policies and the hidden curriculum
  • policies of selection and the economy
  • the experience of education and the hidden curriculum
  • gender and the economy

Have a go, and post your questions below!

Remember that the AQA bots can’t distinguish between a sensible and terrible question so it’s best to be prepared for all potentialities – so why not have a go and generate some random questions, and have a think about the answers.

What else have you got to do after all, no Glastonbury, no Reading, and certainly no Gap Yah!

Keep in mind that this technique doesn’t provide you with an item, which you would need to use in both the 10 mark and the 30 mark questions in the actual exam.

Racial Harassment seems to be common in British Universities, but largely ignored by them.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission recently conducted an Inquiry into Racial Harassment in Universities.

The findings from the inquiry are broken down into three reports, all published in October 2019.

Survey of University Students

This was a short online survey (7-8 minutes) which was completed by just over 1000 students. Ethnic minorities were deliberately over-represented to boost the sample size of some of the smaller sub groups (roughly 50-50 white to ethnic minority sampling).

The survey reports that:

  • Just over one in ten of all students (13%) had experienced racial harassment since starting their course.
  • Around a quarter of students from an ethnic minority background (24%) had experienced racial harassment, compared to 9% of White students.
  • Men were twice as likely as women to have experienced racial harassment (16% and 8% respectively).

The main types of harassment experienced

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Only 33% of cases reported

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The report notes that the main reason for not reporting (cited in 44% of cases) was that the victims had no confidence that the matter would be dealt with effectively.

Survey of Universities

The EHRC’s survey of universities reveals that they receive very few complaints of racial harassment from either students or staff. The report notes that:

“Institutions received an average of 2.3 complaints of racial
harassment of staff and 3.6 complaints of racial harassment of
students between the start of the 2015/16 academic year and
January 2019.

This equates to roughly one complaint for every 1,850 university
employees and one complaint for every 4,100 students since the start
of the 2015/16 academic year.”

Main reason for reporting racial harassment

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main type of harassment reported is verbal…

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Confidence levels in the reporting figures.

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56% of staff are confident that the above figures are accurate, slightly lower for students

Outcomes of reports for harassment

Less than 40% of cases for students, and only 17% for staff result in some kind of redress fro the victim…

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A few problems with the methodology of this study…

  • It’s not clear how the students were sampled (it doesn’t say in the report) – this may be a self selecting sample – students who have experienced racism are maybe more likely to take part.
  • There’s a lot of problems with subjectivity over definitions of terms, and whether some of the incidents being reported are actual harassment. Students reporting that they’ve been eluded from events on racial grounds for example – it’s very difficult to prove this is because of race, and I’m fairly sure it doesn’t count as harassment.

Conclusions

According to students in England’s universities, the experience of racial harassment is common place, with 13%, or roughly 1 out of every 7 students having been a victim of some sort of unfair treatment on the basis of race.

If we look at just ethnic minority students, 24% believe they have been a victim of racial harassment.

However, the universities seem to be largely oblivious to this – they only record 1 incident per 4000 students, which is so far away from the stated figures that the students themselves.

Maybe more worryingly 55% of universities think their own recordings are accurate. I think we can at least conclude from the above survey of students that this is something they may need to investigate!

Finally, if 33% of cases of harassment are being reported to universities, they are certainly not being recorded, again something which seems to suggest that universities are ignoring the issue!

Find out more

You could investigate the above reports for yourself, and even check out the qualitative findings if you like!

The PISA Global Education Tests – Arguments for and Against

The PISA international assessments are part of the globalisation of education. The OECD (which runs the tests) claims there are benefits to having a global system of assessment because we can learn what the best educational practices are and apply them globally. However, critics argue that these tests could be doing more harm than good, by focusing on a narrow range of educational outcomes, which reflect the biases of Western educationalists.

The PISA international assessments are part of the globalisation of education. The OECD (which runs the tests) claims there are benefits to having a global system of assessment because we can learn what the best educational practices are and apply them globally. However, critics argue that these tests could be doing more harm than good, by focusing on a narrow range of educational outcomes, which reflect the biases of Western educationalists.

What are the PISA tests?

The PISA Tests are sat by a random sample of 15 year old students every three years, and measure their ability in reading, mathematics and science. More than 3 million students in over 90 countries have participated in the PISA tests since they started in the year 2000, with the latest round being in 2018, the next will be in 2021.

The PISA Tests aim to assess whether what students have learned in school can be applied to real life situations, focusing on their ability to reason and communicate rather than factual recall.

PISA stands for the ‘Programme of International Student Assessment and is run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. An overview of the PISA programme and summary of the 2018 results can be found on the PISA website here.

Countries volunteer to take part in the PISA tests and if a country isn’t equipped to conduct the test country-wide, then regions of that country can participate instead.

If a country volunteers to participate, then individual schools are selected to represent all 15 year olds, and the individual students who are to sit the tests are then randomly selected from within those schools.

Students take the test in their native language, and the tests involve interpreting texts, solving problems and using their reasoning skills.

According to the video below, the primary aim of PISA isn’t to rank countries next to each other, although this is what tends to catch the headlines, rather it is about assessing how successfully students are being equipped for further study and work , and about collecting data to put together a picture of what the most effective education systems look like.

PISA’s positive spin on ‘PISA’.

Examples of PISA test questions

You can find some examples of the PISA test questions on the PISA web site here.

These questions really are worth having a look. The ‘reading’ questions really do challenge students to read thoroughly and think about their answers, and the maths questions all seem to be applied to real-world circumstances.

An overview of the 2018 PISA Results

Top ranked countries

Selected regions in China (not all regions do the tests!) came out on top, with a mean score in all tests of 555, closely followed by 3 other wealthy Asian city-states, then Estonia, Canada and Finland. Overall, there’s not too much of a mix at the top end – it’s either Asian city or Euro-American-Australian!

Bottom ranked countries

Much more of a mix down at the bottom: The Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Argentina stand out for me, either due to large population size or to just surprise due to their having quite a high level of development!

Problems with the PISA tests

This excellent (and short) 2019 article in The Conversation outlines seven problems with PISA tests, among which it mentions that economic and cultural factors in some countries can explain a of the difference in test results – poverty may account for up to 50% of the difference, for example,

It also mentions that the sampling of schools may bias the results – ‘indiginous’ schools which have higher SEN rates are not included in Canada’s sample, for example, which could boost it up to near the top.

This 2019 Washington Post article makes several main criticisms of the PISA tests, all based on a lot of research by serious academics. The gist of these criticisms are that the tests are very narrow – focusing on English, maths and science, and this narrow agenda reflects the biases of the rich people who have mainly been involved with designing them.

Despite their claims that the tests are universally applicable, they are not: the real world challenges faced by students in poorer countries probably aren’t being assessed by these maths/ english and science tests, they are probably more appropriate to students in wealthier countries.

Why do pupils in some countries get better PISA test scores than others?

Do European countries do well simply because the tests have been designed for them? And do the students in countries such as Saudi Arabia do worse because the tests aren’t culturally relevant (too narrow)?

Or is there at least some validity to these tests and then real underlying factors which might explain differences in student peformance?

Do those countries/ regions at the top end of the scale have features in common? Do their students perform well because of cultural factors such as parents valuing education, or economic factors because of the degree of equality, lack of poverty? Or is it because of the quality of education systems and amount of resources or way the schools are organised?

This is definitely something worth exploring, and it’s something I’d recommend all students think about doing.

You can do so by using either the individual snapshots of countries from PISA, or simply by doing your own independent research on the education systems of those countries at the top end of the league tables.

Are the PISA tests damaging education?

This letter, written in 2014 by education academics and published in The Guardian outlines several concerns about the negative consequences of the PISA testing regime. Some of these concerns include:

  • It has increased the pressure on national governments to rise up the rankings, which can increase the amount of testing (rather than education).
  • It encourages countries to focus on a narrow range of quantitative measures in mathematics, science and English rather than a broader range of qualitative educational goals.
  • It encourages a focus on a three-year improvement cycle, rather than longer term development.
  • ‘Work readiness’ is not the main aim of education in some countries, yet this is what the PISA tests are designed to assess.
  • PISA has no mandate in countries, it has just ‘imposed itself on them’.
  • It opens the doors to private companies to sell ‘education improvement’ products based on PISA findings.

Sources

Social class and educational achievement statistics

The relationship between social class and educational achievement is one of the main topics within the sociology of education at A level.

The problem is, the government does not routinely collect statistics on the relationship between social class and educational achievement!

Instead, we have to reply on statistics which look at the relationship between household income and educational achievement, rather than the relationship between social class and educational achievement.

Household income is related to social class, but income alone does not tell us exactly which social class someone is from. Some parents might work in traditionally ‘working-class’ jobs which could be very well paid, such as the building trades; while other parents might be earning a limited amount of money working part-time in traditionally middle-class jobs – as private music teachers for example.

Also, income does not necessarily tell us about the cultural aspects of class – how well educated parents are or how much social and cultural capital they have, for example.

Thus you must remember that household income indicators are only proxies for social class, they may not show us precisely what a child’s social class background is.

Two sources we might use to to examine the relationship between social class and educational achievement are:

  • Free School Meal (FSM) achievement rates compare to non FSM achievement rates
  • Data on independent school results compared to government schools results.

The Achievement of Pupils Eligible for Free School Meals

Three is a 13.7% achievement gap in the ‘attainment 8’ scores of pupils eligible for Free School Meals compared to non-FSM pupils

In 2019 parents in households with a gross annual income of no more than £16190 were entitled to claim for Free School Meals. (Source).

This means that approximately the poorest 1/6th of households are eligible, so the above statistics are comparing the results of children from the poorest 1/6th of households with the richest 5/6ths all lumped into one.

One limitation with the above statistics is that if you were to stretch this comparison out and compare the poorest 1/6th with the next poorest 1/6th and so on up to the riches 1/6th, you would probably see much starker differences.

Independent School Results Compared to State Schools

If we look at the top 10 independent school results compared to the top 10 state schools, we see quite a difference in results.

In order to be able to pay the fees to get your children into an independent school, you have to be comfortably in the top 10% of households. There are a few scholarships for pupils from poorer households, but not in significant numbers!

Top 10 independent schools

Top 10 state schools

You can see a clear 8-9% difference in achievement in favour of the fee-paying independent schools.

One advantage of the above stats is that it’s much more likely that you’re seeing the solidly upper middle class in these schools, rather than this just being about income.

However, we are only talking about the the top 5-10% of the social class scale, we are not able to make social class comparisons more broadly.

Conclusions

If we use the above data, we can see there is a drastic difference in the achievement rates at the very top and the very bottom of the household income scales.

IF we think household income is a valid indicator of social class, we can also say there are huge social class differences in educational achievement based on the above statistics.

However, we don’t have systematic, annual data on the relationship between the vast majority of middle income households and educational achievement.

Sources

DFE Education Statistics

Seems to be Capitalism as Usual for Corporations during Coronavirus…

Several large Corporations have created adverts tapping into our new ‘Coronavirus’ norms.

There seems to be a pretty formulaic structure involving images of key workers with thankful messages, images of people in their homes communicating via Zoom or some other video conferencing app, and finally a reference (the point of the ad) to how the Corporation is ‘here to help’.

Just a couple of examples….

Tesco – Food Love Stories

No surprise that Britain’s largest Supermarket Chain has got in there with a very aggressive ad campaign showing how (Tesco’s) Food brings people together either in times of crises – real colonisation of the lifeworld going on here – ‘new intimate’ moments brought to your courtesy of Tesco.

And of course the # to try and get the super-mugs to advertise for free for them.

Virgin Media – Stay Home Stay Safe, Stay Connected

This one is particularly grating because Virgin Atlantic has just announced a mass lay-off of a third of its staff, while our taxes are currently paying for most of them to be furloughed.

Meanwhile Branson keeps his $$$ millions.

A Marxist analysis seems most appropriate here?

What these ads are doing is attempting to ‘colonise our lifeworlds’ – they are either taking footage of ordinary people connecting online in these social distancing times, or using actors to create such footage (I don’t know which) and then ’embedding’ themselves right in the middle of these interactions.

And then they are further suggesting that what binds us all together in our isolation are these Corporations – they are ‘here for us all’ here to ‘help us all through’ as if they’re some kind of benevelant parental figure.

This is false consciousnesses and the creation of false needs on steroids – trying to convince us that these Corporations are here for the social good?

Let’s remember that behind the scenes these Corporations are interested in one thing only, and that is profit. In fact I imagine both of the above Corporations are going to do very nicely out of Coronavirus – especially Tesco.

Virgin as a whole may suffer because of its transport holdings, but I imagine Virgin Media will see a boost.

What’s really going on here are these Corporations embedding, or at least attempting to embed, themselves into our psyches, so that we become more committed to them in the future as we get through Coronavirus and come out the other side.

Stay informed and don’t be fooled!

A Very Paternal Sun

I’ve been adding a copy of The Sun newspaper to my basket every time I do my lock down shop, primarily because it at around 50 pence it’s pretty cheap!

The Sun is also Britain’s most widely circulated newspaper, so it’s worth doing a bit of casual content analysis on it during these unusual coronavirus times – this is the paper most people are reading, after all!

One of the main themes I’ve noticed is moralising through shaming, and today’s paper (Friday 8th May) is a great example of this…..

On the front page we have the paper moralising against ‘Just Giving’ taking a £300K fee from Captain Tom’s fundraising efforts.

On pages 5-6 we have public shaming of businesses and shops for ‘flouting’ lock down rules on a sunny day yesterday

Later on pages 8-9 we have a detailed map of England footballer Kyle Walker’s lock down violations as he visits his sister, mother and father and friend for a cycle ride.

All of these events are newsworthy based on their news values, but The Sun goes beyond objective reporting and adds a shaming element through the use of language: ‘Walker the Plank’ as a title, for example.

And it’s not just The Sun being Paternal… apparently Dominic Raab has said that if people take advantage of the lockdown gradually being relaxed, they’ll restrict the rules again, as if we’re all like a bunch of school children?!?

Why do Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Children have such low educational achievement?

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) children underachieve significantly compared to students from all other ethnic backgrounds (source for graphic below):

Attainment 8 Results, 2018 data, DFE

The most obvious explanation is to look at their poor attendance rates. Gypsy and Roma and Traveller (GRT) children have much higher absence rates than children from other ethnic groups: 13% and 18.8% respectively.

Absence from School, 2019, DFE.

However, Professor Kalwant Bhopal, from the Center for Research in Race and Education at Birmingham university has conducted research with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) children and cites two main reasons for poor attendance and high drop out rates:

  • Firstly they they don’t feel represented in the school curriculum
  • Secondly that they have experienced racism in mainstream schools

Not feeling included in the school curriculum

Parents felt that the curriculum did not adequately represent their unique histories, they felt that they were effectively excluded, and that the curriculum wasn’t really for them.

They also felt suspicious of sex education being included in the curriculum – in their communities, this is something that is done within the family rather than talked about in public.

Finally, simple activities where children are asked to talk about their home lives can make GRT children feel very different very quickly. Asking a child to draw a picture of their home-life, for example can lead to most children drawing pictures of homes and gardens, which is different to what GRT children are going to draw.

In short, it sounds like children are experiencing the curriculum as ‘ethnocentric’!

Being victims of discrimination and racism

Parents and pupils claimed that they had experienced racism from both children and teachers within schools, however, when they reported incidents of racism this tended not to be taken seriously as they were white.

GRT parents were also very sensitive to stereotypes surrounding the GRT community.

Funding Cuts

Funding cuts to Traveller services as a possible barrier to maintaining attendance levels of GRT children.

Changing Times?

Having said all of the above, times are changing. Younger GRT parents are much more pro-school than older parents, and much more likely to work with.

Sources