BBC coverage of the British “Ethnicity, Gender and Social Mobility” report, started by the Social Mobility Commission with research performed by academics from LKMco and Education Datalab, revealed numerous disparities in race, gender and class, when it comes to British educational and professional opportunities.
For example, Black and Asian Muslim children are less likely to get professional jobs, despite doing better at school.
According to GOV.UK, the report showed that some minority groups are more likely to obtain higher educational levels but poorer white males have higher employment rates. Alan Milburn, Chair of the Commission said, “Achievements at school not being translated into labor market success is a broken social mobility promise.”
Milburn further said, “It is deeply concerning that poor white British boys are doing so badly in education, from the early years through to university. Yet they are less likely to be unemployed and face social immobility than young people from Black and Asian communities, Asian women especially. Britain is a long way from having a level playing field of opportunity for all, regardless of gender, ethnicity or background.”
This study has exposed serious issues within educational systems, professional arenas and poverty. It has also shown some of the effects of discrimination on minority groups and how those effects extend into adulthood and quality of life.
Lead author on the study, Bart Shaw states, “A range of factors give rise to these differences and some require further research to understand specific issues. However, with regards to participation in the labour market, key factors include cultural, family and individual expectations, geography and direct/indirect discrimination.”
Bart added, “Meanwhile in education, differences arise from access to schools, teachers’ perceptions of behaviour and practices such as tiering and setting. Out of school factors such as parental expectations and support also play a critical role.”
Some Commission Findings:
White British and White other children from low-income homes are the lowest-performing groups at primary school. White British pupils also make the least progress throughout secondary school — worsening in their performance by key stage 4.
Disadvantaged young people from White British backgrounds are the least likely to access higher education… Despite this, ethnic minority groups experience higher unemployment rates compared to white British groups.
Black children now enter school with levels of literacy and numeracy that are largely in line with the average child in the U.K. — 67% and 75% achieving a good level at age 5 in literacy and numeracy respectively, compared to the national average of 69% and 76%.
Females and males now perform similarly in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) with boys increasing their performance over recent years. However, girls are less likely to take these subjects.
Recommendations from the Commission:
Schools should seek to involve and work with parents and should particularly target those from the groups that are least likely to engage in their children’s education, such as poor white British and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) groups.
Schools should avoid setting pupils by ability, particularly at primary level, and government should discourage schools from doing so.
Schools, universities and employers should provide targeted support to ensure Muslim women are able to achieve their career ambitions and progress in the workplace.
Universities should implement widening participation initiatives that are tailored to the issues faced by poor white British students and address worrying drop-out and low achievement rates amongst Black students.