Minority Ethnic Pupils' Experiences Of School In Scotland (MEPESS)

Listen

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1 Introduction

The review of literature was initially structured around the research questions that were key to the MEPESS project. However, while the research team was carrying out planned fieldwork, a number of significant developments were taking place and it was important that account was taken of them in the study.

First, new data became available from the 2001 Census and the 2002 School Census respectively. The analysis of the 2001 Census of Scotland indicated the scale and variation of ethnic and faith diversity between Scottish local authority areas and the summary results of the 2002 School Census highlighted the ways in which ethnic diversity is developing in schools. The questions about 'ethnicity' that were included in both Censuses, and those about religion that were included for the first time in the 2001 National Census, mean that the baseline data that Scotland requires in order to be able to monitor the experience of minority ethnic families is now available.

Second, the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 came into operation and required all public bodies to have a Race Equality Scheme in place by November 2002. As a result, the Scottish Executive, the Inspectorate of Education and local authority education departments have published their individual schemes, summarising the measures that will be implemented in their organisations from now on. Data of a kind that has not been available before is being collected and reported on a regular basis. Significantly, the Inspectorate has commenced monitoring by 'racial group'. The MEPESS fieldwork straddled this time of change, too early to capture the race equality schemes of individual authorities, but in time to report on the new forms of data monitoring now being finalised by SEED in the Scottish Exchange of Educational Data ( www.scotxed.net).

Third, the Scottish Executive launched its anti-racism campaign, 'One Scotland. Many Cultures'. In advance of the campaign, the results of two national surveys (sample sizes 1,081 and 1,045) were published showing that 56% of people regard racism as a serious problem, 13% believe they had been victims of racist abuse, while 75% do not regard themselves as racist, 24% regard themselves as slightly racist and 1% as strongly racist (the full research details can be found at http://www.onescotland.com/one_scotland). For the first time there is compelling, official, national evidence that racism is a serious issue for Scotland.

It could thus be argued that there is a new, and welcome, transparency in Scottish social policy discourse, a recognition that Scotland must reveal and face the facts both of racism and of ethnic group differences in pupil experiences of schools. However, within that transparency, controversy remains. In the introduction to the 2001 Census for Scotland there is mention of the debate that is now underway about the appropriateness of the ethnic categories that have been in use since 1991. There is also discussion of the compromise that was required in order to resolve the debate about whether there should be any questions on religion ( www.gro-scotland.gov.uk); these questions were not mandatory and one in twenty Scots did not complete the question on 'current religion'.

Appendix 2b presents a summary of data from the 2002 School Census for Scotland. This indicates that there is an extraordinary level of non-compliance with the requirement to complete details about pupils' ethnic backgrounds. Across Scotland, no details about 'ethnicity' are given for 6.2% of pupils. Moreover, the rate of non-compliance varied greatly between the cities. In Aberdeen and Dundee the rate of non-compliance was three times that of the other cities. Additionally, the data shows that the rate of non-compliance varies between special schools (4.4%), primary schools (5.6%) and secondary schools (8.0%).

2.2 Census 2001 - diversity in Scottish cities

Many of the reports of the 2001 Census for Scotland have now been published, including key data relating to Scotland's six cities, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Stirling. The data relating to Ethnic Group and Current Religion indicates how much variation there is between the cities. Each has experienced its own 'specialised' in-migrations. Nonetheless, there are some generalisations that can be made.

All six cities are overwhelmingly 'white Scottish', only in Glasgow do the visible minorities account for more than five per cent of the total population. This 'white-ness' is reinforced by the sizeable minorities of 'Other White British' origin, especially in Edinburgh, Stirling and Inverness where they account for ten per cent and more, and of the smaller minorities of 'White Irish' origin in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling and Dundee.

As can be seen in the data of the relative size of each 'ethnic minority' group, visible minorities are not distributed evenly across the cities. No one group dominates numerically among minorities in all the cities.

Ethnic Group Ranking by Size

Aberdeen

Dundee

Edinburgh

Glasgow

Inverness

Stirling

Scotland

Indian

2

2

3

2

2

3

3

Pakistani

5

1

1

1

3

2

1

Bangladeshi

6

6

6

7

6

8

6

Other South Asian

4

4

5

4

3

5

4

Chinese

1

3

2

3

1

1

22

Caribbean

7

7

7

6

6

6

6

African

3

5

4

5

5

4

45

Black Scottish / other Black

8

8

8

8

8

7

8

Table 2a - Census 2001, Selected Data: Ethnic Group/Ranking by Size

With regard to Current Religion, the demographic profile of the six cities is less complex, but still displays important variation. The Church of Scotland predominates in four of the cities, apart from Aberdeen and Edinburgh where a higher proportion of the population claim to belong to the 'None' category. Roman Catholics account for one in three of the population in Glasgow, one in five in Dundee, and five to thirteen per cent in the other four cities. However, in Inverness and Aberdeen, the numbers of 'Other Christians' exceed the numbers of 'Roman Catholics'.

With regard to the representation of religions other than Christian, Muslims are now the largest minority in all cities, smaller than any of the three 'Christian' groups, but at least three times as many as Buddhists, Hindus, Jews or Sikhs.

Current Religion Ranking By Size of Minority

Aberdeen

Dundee

Edinburgh

Glasgow

Inverness

Stirling

Scotland

Buddhist

2

3

2

3

2

2

2

Hindu

3

2

2

3

3

3

5

Jewish

4

5

5

5

4

3

2

Muslim

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Sikh

4

4

4

2

5

5

2

Table 2b - Census 2001, Selected Data: Current Religion/Ranking by Size of Minority

Data for the different wards within the cities, that is, the catchment areas for schools, was not available at the time of writing. However, from analysis of the 1991 Census (Hampton and Dalton, 1994) and other studies (Powney et al, 1998; Netto et al, 2001) it is known that, while there are some areas of 'cluster' with dense settlements of Pakistani and Indian communities with their children thus comprising large minorities in their local schools, most minority ethnic families live in mainly white areas and their children are pupils in mainly white schools. While the populations in the six cities continue to be mainly 'white', between one in a hundred and one in twenty of their populations are now visible minorities.

2.3 The Scotland school census - diversity in Scottish schools

In August 2003, summary results of the Scotland's 2002 School Census were published, including, for the first time, details of the ethnic background of pupils and teachers in the three publicly funded sectors: primary, secondary and special schools. ( www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/bulletins/00272-01.asp).

Appendix 2b presents a summary of the key data. This data shows that 3.5% of pupils in primary, 2.7% in secondary and 3.9% in special schools are of 'ethnic minority' background. In all sectors, Asian Pakistanis constitute the largest minority ethnic group, in Primary (1.2%) and Secondary (1.0%), and especially in the Special schools (2.2%) where they account for more than all the other minority ethnic groups combined. No other minority ethnic group has such consistent presence in all sectors. Whereas Asian Indians comprise 0.4% of primary pupils, they are outnumbered by Chinese pupils in secondary schools, 0.6% of primary and 0.4% of secondary pupils are of 'mixed' racial background.

With regard to the ethnic backgrounds of teachers, the summary results do not give the same level of detail but are collated by minority ethnic groups. The data shows that 3.6% of primary teachers are from a minority background, 7.9% of secondary teachers and 9.5% in special schools. What it does not reveal is whether these teachers are spread across schools in Scotland, or are clustered in specific authorities, or even in specific schools. Neither does the data distinguish how many of the minority ethnic numbers are 'visible' minority ethnic teachers.

The 2001 Census thus confirms that the population in Scotland's schools is mainly, even overwhelmingly, 'white'. It is worth noting that whilst minority ethnic pupils make up one in every twenty-five pupils in schools, there is considerable ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity among this small population. When the data for schools within individual education authorities is studied, we anticipate that it will confirm the findings of the Census data for the six cities: that is, we anticipate that it will indicate that Scottish education authorities is mainly white, that each has its distinctive minority ethnic profile and there are clusters in which the population of minority ethnic pupils account for higher proportions than the national norm.

2.4 Mainly white schools

In her study of racism in the rural areas of Scotland (Angus, the Highlands, North Ayrshire and the Western Isles), Philomena de Lima chose the title Needs not Numbers (de Lima, 2001) in order to emphasise the fact that public service providers (including education) should not continue the habits of the past. She identified a prevailing attitude that there is 'no problem here' and that minority ethnic groups are regarded as having 'no needs' because they are small in number, 'invisible' and 'silent'. Her finding was that minority ethnic people in rural areas are more isolated in every sense of the word, vulnerable to racist harassment and unaware of the services to which they are entitled.

Research studies of mainly white schools in England have identified the same negative attitudes. Cline et al (2002) surveyed the performance of over 34,000 pupils in mainly white schools in 35 education authorities in England. They defined 'mainly white' as those where 4-6% of pupils were from minority ethnic backgrounds. They found that by 1996/97 all secondary and three quarters of primary schools had at least some minority ethnic pupils and only eight education authorities had very few or no schools with a significant proportion of minority ethnic pupils (more than 4%).

They point out that the great majority of teachers across England can now expect to work with minority ethnic pupils at some point in their careers, yet, they also found that few teachers received initial or in-service training that allowed them to gain relevant understanding, confidence or skills. They studied 14 schools more closely and reported that none had a fully developed strategy for preparing pupils, through the curriculum, for life in a diverse society. Rather, the teachers saw their school or class as trying to treat 'all children equally', thus downplaying ethnic and cultural differences.

The main conclusion to be drawn from this study is that there is an onus on all schools to respond to diverse needs, not to wait for numbers to grow to some future 'critical' point when action may be considered. This is an important lesson for the few schools in Scotland where there are no visible minority ethnic pupils, those where minority ethnic pupils form a small proportion of the intake, and the few schools in urban areas where they form a large proportion within the school.

This shift in thinking is made more urgent by the arrival of asylum seekers and refugees who have been dispersed by the Home Office to Glasgow, a high proportion of whom are being given leave to remain. This development has precipitated considerable demographic change in schools in the areas in which they have been housed. By August 2000, in advance of the main dispersal programme, Glasgow estimated that there were 1,110 'international' children in 21 primary and seven secondary schools (TES, 29.12.00). Most of the asylum seeker families are Muslim and from countries that have experienced ethnic tensions, persecution and war. Their children need intensive language support, skilled induction into Scottish school systems and insight and sensitivity from teachers and other pupils of the extraordinary trauma that the new arrivals have experienced (Arshad et al, 1999; Closs et al, 2001; Macaskill and Petrie, 2000; Rutter, 2001).

A finding that is consistently reported in studies of mainly white schools is the contrast in awareness and understanding between teachers and pupils. This indicates that minority ethnic pupils have a stronger sense of ethnic identity, even when they were 'playing white'. Teachers on the other hand tended to be oblivious both to the issue of ethnic identity and to how pupils handle it among themselves, including the negative experience of racist name calling and verbal abuse. Patricia Donald and two other primary school teachers in Central Scotland investigated the impact of multiculturalism and anti-racism in local, mainly white, primary schools. They found that as soon as children were encouraged to talk about their everyday lives, racist language and racist incidents were revealed, increasing with age, whereas teachers continued to think that there is 'no problem here' ( www.scre.ac.uk/spotlight/spotlight54.html). The researchers concluded that when schools devise new policies on race equality, minority ethnic children's views must be sought if these initiatives are to be effective.

Troyna and Hatcher (1992: 41-45) developed an important piece of ethnographic research which was conducted in mainly white primary schools. They studied everyday interaction among the children, as a backcloth and formative environment, to the incidence of racist behaviour, especially the less spectacular, relatively ordinary and routine 'trivial' incidents. They found it instructive to apply a 'Flashpoints' model in their study, so that any racist incident involving children could be understood within its context, the immediate prehistory, the biographies of the individuals concerned, the sub-cultural worlds of the children, the institutional ethos absorbed by the children, the cultures of the locality and community within which they lived, the prevalent systems in play, whether racist or anti-racist, and the structural context of power relations between groups perceived as 'racially' different. Troyna and Hatcher maintain that while a school cannot stop in order to analyse in depth every single racist incident, it is crucial to learn how to identify the different levels of social process at play and to detect which are the exception and which are unexceptional and everyday. This cannot be achieved without engaging with the everyday experiences of pupils as they learn from each other the meaning of both friendship and hostility. A theory of children's relationships has to be able to account for both friendships and hostility. It has to be able to explain both the dynamic towards equality and harmony and the dynamic towards dominance and conflict, ... the actual network of relationships that exists at any one time is the product of negotiations and struggle between many children's versions of it. Boys, for example, may attempt to impose an unequal power relationship at the expense of girls, who may counter it with their own egalitarian version. Arguments between friends may entail struggle over social power between them. Thus the social network is constantly changing as shifts in power change relative subject positions (1992: 45).

2.5 Key factors which promote or restrict inclusion - racism in schools

An appreciation of ethnic diversity and awareness of anti-racism are increasingly recognised as essential components of a "good" education, regardless of local conditions (Campbell et al, 2001: 43).

Studies of pupils and young people are quite consistent in arguing that whilst 'race' is a factor in considering the extent to which minority ethnic pupils feel 'included' in school, their teachers are often oblivious to their concerns. In England and Wales where the library of publications about white and minority ethnic pupil experiences is now growing, studies have been carried out in schools in mainly white areas as well as in areas of dense minority ethnic settlement. This contrast between pupil concerns about 'everyday racism', among white as well as minority ethnic pupils, and teacher awareness is reported time and again (Kelly, 1991 and 1994; see also Macleod's 1998 report on children's calls about racism to Childline).

Hampton carried out her fieldwork in Glasgow in the aftermath of the death of the schoolboy Imran Khan, a Pakistani schoolboy who died after being stabbed in a fight between Asian youths and white youths (see TES editorial, 18.12.1998). Using 13 focus groups in schools and community settings with facilitators for discussion allowing 83 participants to describe and discuss experiences, problems and needs in their own words, Hampton and her team made special efforts to capture the experiences of Chinese and African-Caribbean young people along with Asians, and youths of white and 'mixed' ethnic origin. The young people she questioned felt that racism occurs on a daily basis, incidents occurring most frequently in schools, as well as on the streets, in shops, and in the neighbourhood. The racism is overt, especially in certain residential areas and so common that, for instance, name calling is endemic. They complained that people in authority, teachers and police, are indifferent, disinterested and even racist, and that little effective action was taken in schools. (For corroboration of their complaints see Andrew Johnson and Aamer Anwar commenting on Scottish schools in TES, 06.12.2002 and 14.12.2001)

Racism was felt to have a devastating effect on both individuals and communities, lowering confidence and esteem in individuals, generating fear when it was known that there had been a murder or suicide as a result of racism. Key areas of concern were:

• Young people are not significantly involved in the planning and implementation of youth activities.
•The needs of young people are not understood and appreciated.
• The needs and concerns of young people are masked by the 'gatekeepers' and community representatives who are consulted by service providers.
• Young people should be given the opportunity to be involved in the design, implementation and monitoring of anti-racist strategies.

Virdee and his colleagues undertook an ethnographic study of boys in a secondary school in Greater London, focusing on racial harassment (Virdee et al, 1999) and analysed some instructive elements. Working with 54 pupils, aged 11-12 and 14-15, in 18 'friendship based' group discussions they found :

• Younger white pupils rarely drew on racist discourses whilst interacting with minority pupils.
• Racism played a greater part in structuring the lives of older minority pupils in school than younger ones. For older minority pupils, in many ways, racism represented the defining issue. All had been subjected to some form of racist harassment in school, ranging from occasional physical attacks to regular verbal abuse and subjected to racist discourse in situations where an authority figure was absent, thereby reducing their chances of being reprimanded.
• There was more overt racism when pupils were engaged in some form of competitive activity, such as team games.
• The school's condemnation of racism had the effect of deterring some pupils from drawing on it for fear of consequences. Whilst where there was a relative absence of racism in school, more racism was experienced journeying to and from school.

The conclusion that he reached was that racism structured social relations, a process that he called 'balkanisation'. He found minority ethnic pupils employed a range of strategies to negotiate racism in school. The dominant strategy employed was that of 'racial formation' constructed around the identity of 'Asian'. The processes of racialisation and racism were decisive factors in encouraging many minority pupils to appropriate the ascribed racial identity of 'Paki' and using it to forge an imagined community of 'Asians'. Importantly, rather than competing with white pupils for places in the school football team and risk being subjected to racism, many of the Asian boys chose to withdraw from these competitive arenas and create their own 'racially specific' spaces free from the risk of racist harassment where they organised football matches for 'Asians only'. However, this development had its own consequences in so far as it reinforced the racist impression held by many of the white pupils that 'Asians always stick together'. Hence, whilst this development tended to reduce the number of potentially racist interactions between white and Asian pupils, it did little to undermine the racist images the former had of Asians (12-13).

Unfortunately, apart from a brief research report, Virdee et al's research has not been published (however, see also Virdee, 1995 and 1997). His suggestion that racist harassment structures the lives of male minority ethnic pupils and contributes to some form of segregation in social relations within this secondary school is a salutary tale of which we should take note in relation to changing interactions between girls and boys, and over the years as pupils mature. Nonetheless, this finding must be treated with caution because 'balkanisation' is a concept that can only gain value if it is more strongly contextualised when the research is published in full. At present, 'balkanisation' acts as a headline flag of the ways in which pupil racism and response to racism develop and change over time. The contrast between the ebb and flow of primary pupil rivalries and friendships, and group formations among male secondary pupils is marked.

Such research based on listening to young people and observing their social interaction in relation to racist behaviour is still rare. But is there not more knowledge about the occasions when pupils have reported racist incidents? After all, since schools in Britain have been expected to record such incidents since 1988, there should be data available for analysis, nationally, as well as locally.

2.6 Institutional racism

There must be an unequivocal acceptance of institutional racism and its nature before it can be addressed, as it needs to be, in full partnership with members of minority ethnic communities. (MacPherson, 1999: 6.48).

The highest profile account of 'institutional racism' is contained in the report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, which concentrated its attention on racial inequality in public institutions in Britain. There are clear implications for the Scottish education system. Institutional racism combined with personal racism in education practice can affect all pupils, as targets, agents or witnesses. The impact on minority ethnic pupils in particular can be serious, especially if they learn that teachers are unable, or unwilling, to acknowledge racism or to work with pupils in challenging racial discrimination (Hampton and Dalton, 1994).

OFSTED (1999) examined the ways in which schools were alert to the racism experienced by pupils of different ethnic groups within and outwith schools. It explored how they sought to support their pupils in resolving racist conflict and dealing with hostility in their lives, in their pastoral care systems, in mentoring, promoting good standards of behaviour, links with parents and the wider community, and promoting good race relations (25-44). It concluded that:

• Strong pastoral care systems are especially vigilant and responsive to pupils made vulnerable emotionally and physically by taunting and racial abuse.
• Effective pastoral care is also characterised by the reinforcement of positive behaviour and the highlighting of respect for others.
• A few of the schools have developed strategies aimed at specific ethnic groups, for example, Gypsy/Traveller pupils. Specific pastoral strategies involve recognising the hostility, stereotyping and racism often directed at Travellers and taking steps to counter this, and acknowledging their needs as a minority group.
• In one school voluntary counsellors (of whom one is Asian) offer guidance to pupils on racism, bullying and work problems.
• Specific provision for the pastoral needs of Black Caribbean youngsters is rarely initiated by the schools.
• Whilst most schools monitor behaviour (and implement sanctions such as exclusion) systematically, this rarely takes account of ethnic background other than in relation to incidents involving racially abusive language or physical injury. The lack of ethnic monitoring leaves schools open to the danger of stereotypical 'impressions' and gives no sound basis for initiatives to address any real difficulties.
• Schools vary greatly in the kind of initiatives they undertake to improve their links within ethnically mixed neighbourhoods and with specific ethnic communities.
• The establishment of harmonious race relations in the most effective schools is seen to require a wide range of purposeful and constructive strategies, positive behaviour management policies with sufficient time for issues to be discussed and resolved, regular and appropriate in-service training, a multicultural and anti-racist curriculum, close parental and community links, pupil organisation which takes account of ethnic and gender balance, the boosting of pupils' self-esteem books and materials which avoid stereotypical and inaccurate images, school social events aimed at pulling together different life experiences, staffing establishments which reflect the ethnic make-up of the school and the community.
• Specific investigations into, for instance, playground behaviour, experiences on the way to and from school, and responses to serious incidents such as an outbreak of violence, require not only reactive, but also proactive responses, e.g. development of playground strategies, planning safety strategies with pupils and the development of conflict resolution strategies.
• None of the schools denies the existence of racism, but their ethos makes it easier in some schools for pupils to discuss and attempt to counter it whereas in others, pupils, especially boys, clearly experience racism but are reluctant to talk about it. Often it is the groups which are small in number which suffer most and the level of hostility faced by Gypsy/Traveller children is probably greater than for any other minority ethnic group. Unless staff take a lead, pupils will not raise the issue themselves.

Gillborn and Mirza (2000) emphasise the need for an inclusive strategy around racist incidents. They characterised such an approach as one in which there was evidence of:

• strong leadership on equal opportunities and social justice (from the LEA and the headteacher in particular).
• seeking and using pupil and parent perspectives.
• designing and enacting clear procedures for recording and acting on racist incidents .
• generating and sustaining an ethos that is open and vigilant, which enables pupils to discuss 'race' issues and share concerns.
• developing and communicating high expectations accompanied by a clear view that under-performance by any group is unacceptable.
• reviewing curricular and pastoral approaches to ensure their sensitivity and appropriateness.
• using ethnic monitoring as a routine and rigorous part of the school's LEA self evaluation and management.

A recurring principle in the research discussed above is that the schools which challenged racism most effectively and in which pupils of all ethnic groups were likely to thrive socially as well as educationally, were schools in which teachers know, understand and respond to what is happening among pupils. However, knowing what is happening in youth culture in a multiracial society is no easy task for researchers or teachers. There is a need for qualitative research of the experiences of children and young people, girls and boys, of Asian, African, Chinese, immigrant and refugee background. But qualitative studies require rigorous research discipline if they are not to become merely anecdotal and fail to develop insights that can be generalised.

2.7 Monitoring minority ethnic pupil educational attainment

Given the sizeable effect that gender, ethnic origin and social background have on educational outcomes and life chances in Britain, one might expect a large volume of statistical data in the area. There is in fact rather little evidence from large, repeated, cross-sectional, nationally representative surveys and longitudinal studies are even more rare. (Demack et al, 2000: 118).

OFSTED (1999) reported on a thematic inspection report on initiatives to raise the attainment of minority ethnic pupils, especially Bangladeshi, Black Caribbean, Pakistani and Gypsy/Travellers. A sample of 48 schools, 24 primary and 24 secondary in 25 LEAs was selected according to the percentage of pupils from the four priority groups - Bangladeshi, Black Caribbean, Pakistani and Gypsy/Travellers. Also, a further 34 schools were visited because they had been identified as demonstrating good practice in relation to minority ethnic pupils. It reported that:

• While the attainment of minority ethnic groups as a whole is improving some groups continue to under-achieve.
• The performance of Bangladeshi and Pakistani pupils in the early years of schooling remains depressed, improves once they are proficient in English, but remains lower in GCSE results.
• Black Caribbean pupils make a sound start in primary schools but their performance declines markedly in secondary school.
• Gypsy/Traveller pupils are the group most at risk with generally low attainment in secondary schools.
• Girls from minority ethnic groups attain more highly than boys.

Gillborn and Mirza (2000) analysed new data emerging from 118 LEA submissions (81 of which monitored for ethnicity) to the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG, instituted in 1999). In spite of problems of variability in the quality of data, especially the exclusion of Chinese and Gypsy/Traveller pupils, they were able to identify the following ethnic variation in achievement of five or more higher grade GCSEs:

• White pupils were the highest achieving group in four LEAs, second highest in a further 26 LEAs, lowest attaining in six LEAs.
• African Caribbean pupils were more likely to attain than White pupils in nine LEAs, athough in 34 LEAs African Caribbean pupils failed to keep up with their White counterparts.
• Indian pupils were more likely than White to attain in 67 LEAs.
• Pakistani pupils were more likely than White to attain in 35 LEAs.
• Bangladeshi pupils were more likely than White to attain in 21 LEAs.

In other words, for each of the principal minority groups there is at least one authority where they attain higher than the other groups. Nonetheless, inequality of attainment is a significant and persistent problem for many minority ethnic groups.

How far are these findings confirmed in other data? Since 1987, DfES (formerly the Department for Education & Employment, DFEE) has published annual data from its Youth Cohort Study (YCS), a series of longitudinal surveys that contacts a sample of an academic year-group or 'cohort' of young people in the spring following completion of compulsory education and again one or two years later. A focal point in the data for secondary school Year 11 focuses on the benchmark of 5 or more GCSEs in the higher grades of A to C; data used to significant effect in analysis of ethnic group variations. The YCS provides the best available estimate with information about the proportion of pupils in each ethnic group that attained five higher grade GCSEs (or their equivalent). In the YCS data, Gillborn and Mirza, 2000 identified the following:

• Each of the main ethnic groups now achieve higher attainments than ever before.
• However African-Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi pupils are markedly less likely to attain five higher grade GCSEs than their White and Indian peers nationally.
• In 1997, each of the minority ethnic groups has shown an improvement that is greater than that of the White cohort.

However, while White and Indian pupils have improved year by year since 1988, the attainments of African-Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi are less consistent. Indian pupils have made the greatest gains in the last decade, enough to overtake their white peers as a group. Bangladeshi pupils have improved significantly but the gap between them and white peers is much the same. African-Caribbean and Pakistani pupils have drawn least benefit from rising attainment, the gap between them and their White (and Indian peers) is bigger now than ten years ago.

Gillborn and Youdell (2000) published their analysis of ethnic variation within the government drive for educational achievement. Between 1988 and 1998, the proportion of 16 year-olds attaining at least five A to C grades in GCSE rose from 30% to 46%. But there have also been growing inequalities between different parts of the education system, for instance, the growing number of pupils attaining no pass grades and the gap between schools performing at the top and bottom quartile points. 30% of boys attained the benchmark compared with 42% of girls and ethnic variation has become more marked with 50% of Chinese, 40% of White and Indian, 25% of Pakistani, 20% of Bangladeshi and 19% of Black pupils achieving the benchmark in 1993 (Gillborn and Youdell, 2000: 33-38). In other words, while there is clear evidence that 'during the late 1980s and early 1990s at precisely the point when overall educational achievements were rising sharply, the inequalities of achievement between social classes also increased and these inequalities are even greater than those noted by gender and ethnic origin' (Gillborn and Youdell, 2000: 39).

Demack et al (2000) reported on their analysis of social class, ethnicity and gender variations in attainment in five cohorts of school leavers between 1988 and 1995. They made four linked findings. First, they identified 'two distinct attainment clusters' and revealed that the lower attainment cluster is falling further behind the higher attainment cluster. Black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi students are in the lower cluster, Indian and Chinese students are in the higher. Second, they found that the 'gender gap' in favour of girls over boys is widening in all ethnic groups. Third, they found that when examination results are considered, social class differences were the largest, followed by ethnic differences. Fourth, the large social class gap was found in all ethnic groups, and for both girls and boys.

We have to remember that those ethnic groups with the lowest education attainment are those with disproportionately large numbers in the lowest social class groups. Their problems are ones of both 'race' and social disadvantage. The evidence calls into question a primary focus on educational standards in overall school performance (Demack et al, 2000: 138).

The findings all point in the same direction. In England and Wales ethnic inequalities are evident, and have widened in recent years in spite of, perhaps because of, the overall raising of educational attainment in GCSEs. Most notably, Indian and White pupils have sustained their positions as most successful, while Bangladeshi pupils have improved significantly but not enough to close the gap. Pakistanis and African-Caribbean pupils have gained least from rising attainment. However, in some LEAs and in some schools, the lower performing ethnic groups do better.

In Scotland, the major impediment to study of ethnic variation in attainment has been the lack of a national and reliable database, an issue that is being addressed post-Stephen Lawrence through the requirements of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act and specifically by the Scottish Exchange of Educational Data. Until now there has been great variation between local authorities and schools in the practice of systematic recording of ethnic and gender categories in education data. At present, there is a virtual absence of statistics on the presence, performance, choices, aspirations, experiences and outlooks of minority ethnic learners in relation to the various levels and types of educational provision in Scotland (Netto et al, 2001: 33 and 44). When Scotland has the essential statistical data, we might expect to find similar social class, ethnic and gender differences. But we should not predict which ethnic groups will be found to perform better in all schools. Ethnic variation and racial inequality do not develop in a vacuum but are meshed into other forms of inequality. The principles of analysing ethnic and racial inequality in their full context of social class and gender are now being embedded into educational research.

2.8 Factors which affect minority ethnic pupils' achievement and attainment

Evidence indicates that there are differences in educational experiences and outcomes in Scotland relating to social disadvantage and discrimination, linked to class, 'race' and ethnicity, gender, special educational needs and disability (Campbell et al, 2001: 115 ).

Education is central to the Scottish Executive's policies for Social Inclusion (Scottish Executive, 1999). If schools can succeed not only in being more effective for some of their pupils, but also in being more inclusive for all, this would ensure that the rate of low achievement can be reduced (Standards in Scotland's Schools Act, 2000). On the one hand, there is the longstanding and distinctively Scottish inclusive emphasis on egalitarianism and democracy, the lad o' pairts, on the other, there are the facts of serious under-achievement and growing levels of social deprivation and disadvantage which suggest that schools are not inclusive in their processes and equitable in their outcomes (Brown & Riddell, 1992; Powney et al, 1998; also Riddell, 1999).

In relation to the issue of gender, average figures for attainment have improved for both females and males over the past three decades but the gain in attainment by males has not been as great as for females and gender differences persist throughout all stages of schooling. The average figures conceal far greater differences in school experiences between high attainers and low attainers of both sexes and between those from advantaged and disadvantaged home backgrounds. Social class remains a greater source of inequality and under-achievement than gender.

In other words, the drive towards greater school effectiveness in pupil attainment that has dominated the politico-educational agenda in recent years is now being questioned (Demack et al, 2000; Gillborn and Mirza, 2000; Gillborn and Youdell, 2000). Schools are not achieving better education for all, the reduction of inequality and greater social inclusion. For instance, while there has been a marked and laudable, reduction in the numbers of pupils leaving school with no awards at Standard grade, who are these pupils, why were they not included, and what will be their fate in the world outside? It is possible that the overall rise in attainment is obscuring, even precipitating, increased polarisation and fragmentation. This possibility must be explored, tested for social class, gender, and 'race' and ethnic differences within the averages.

The question of whether school effectiveness differs between specific groups of pupils is of critical importance, especially now that Scotland is diversifying faster than ever before. Today, there are few schools where there are no visible minority ethnic pupils; on the contrary there are many schools where they form a small proportion of the school roll and there are some schools where they are present in large numbers. Yet, because there has been no ethnic monitoring in educational data, schools remain 'colour blind'. We simply do not know what is happening on the ground in primary and secondary schools. We do not know the ways in which pupils and teachers are adapting and changing in the face of racism and ethnic diversity.

Both OFSTED and Gillborn include frequent examples of good practice in their accounts of LEAs and schools but with repeated emphasis on the need for integrated, inclusive strategies. They prioritise comprehensive responses to whatever form of challenge schools identify, whether it be, for example, creative use of assessment data, or comprehensive response to a major racist incident. What they do not commend, is 'cherry-picking' of techniques and tactics without a fully developed policy and pedagogic context.

OFSTED (1999) presents examples of good practice in primary schools. They include in-depth analysis and response to ethnic variation in attainment, including response to the particular needs of Black African refugee boy pupils (14: 48 and 23:88), raising low staff expectations of Bangladeshi pupils (18: 64), a family literacy project aimed in particular at Pakistani families (34: 131), positive structuring of playtime (39: 151) and bringing down the barriers between majority white and small minority of Asian pupils in a rural infant school (42: 163). Examples of good practice in secondary schools include school and department head analysis of GCSE subject results by ethnicity and gender (15: 52 and 21: 79), analysis of the outcomes of school procedures by gender and ethnicity (18: 67), ethnic-sensitive monitoring of progress (22: 85), creation of an Attendance Unit to work supportively with pupils on the basis of monitoring (30: 117 and 119), routine analysis and response to monitoring of exclusions checking for year group, ethnicity and gender (31: 123), initiating a pupil away-day conference and consolidating a proactive stance of conflict resolution in relation to racial problems (40: 156) and responding to the dangers pupils face on their way home from school (41: 159).

Blair (2001) investigated why it is that in the sea of Black 'under-achievement' there are some islands of good practice schools in which Black pupils do better than elsewhere. She identified three major factors:

• Understanding by the adults in the school of the political and social concerns of their students and the willingness and courage to address them, however uncomfortable or difficult.
• Adult understanding of, and empathy with, the needs and concerns of adolescents. There is a need for teachers to be in tune with the particular age-group of students they teach in order to cater appropriately for them.
• The school's willingness to work with parents as genuine partners in the pursuit of a socially and academically rewarding experience for students.

She demonstrated that if a school is willing to honestly address the issues that beset minority ethnic groups (for example, Black or Gypsy/Traveller students) it is more likely to embrace the issues that exist, whereas schools that take a 'colour-blind' approach are more likely to develop a 'racially hot' environment marked not only by resentment and conflict but by disaffection and more likely than not, under-achievement'. One school that was effective in strong leadership, positive ethos and with high expectations of students when visited, revealed a high level of negativity among the Black students, especially the Black boys, thus indicating that their concerns were either not known or not heeded.

Black secondary school students seem to speak with one voice about the nature of their experience of schooling; they feel they are unfairly treated by teachers, teachers have low expectations of them, teachers discriminate against them, do not treat them with respect, do not listen to them, and stick up for and support each other. At Northern Catholic, the school studied by Blair, the staff decided to listen to the grievances that were brought to them by students and then find strategies for developing a culture which created a positive learning environment for Black students (for instance introducing African Studies and Irish Studies), understanding issues from the point of view of the students, developing a culture of mutual respect so that students learned they would be believed until, after investigation, the facts proved to be different. What was needed in Northern Catholic was not only strong and determined leadership and a clear vision of what was right for the school, but enough teachers who were committed to the process of continuous improvement to create the momentum for change and provide the support needed for this to be effective.

In 2001, Campbell et al's team submitted their review of developments in inclusive schooling in Scotland to SEED. They reported on the available research in the three fields of special educational needs, 'race', ethnicity and gender. They open their chapter on 'race' and ethnicity with two important remarks:

... 'race' and ethnicity can be hugely important aspects of people's sense of identity and their experience of different life chances. However, it should not be assumed that these issues will always be the most significant for all individuals or in all contexts.

... the importance of 'race' and ethnic diversity cannot be judged in relation to the proportion of a population. The underlying issues of social justice, and the global nature of modern population and information flows, mean that an appreciation of ethnic diversity and an awareness of anti-racism are increasingly recognised as essential components of a 'good' education, regardless of local conditions. [p.43]

Including pupils and pursuing equality are not simply about providing children with access to school. They require consideration of inclusive and equitable processes and outcomes throughout inclusive education. These are important and timely developments which must be considered alongside wider social and economic policies e.g. tackling child poverty, promoting social inclusion and reducing social exclusion:

• An understanding of ethnic diversity and anti-racism are widely seen as essential components of inclusive schooling.
• This is true regardless of whether minority ethnic groups are a significant part of a school's population.
• There are important connections at the pupil level between academic achievement, motivation, behaviour, attendance and self-esteem.
• There are strong arguments therefore, for addressing these links in school improvement initiatives which seek to promote inclusion.
• Focusing on pupils' experiences and views of school, and promoting the involvement of pupils and parents is important both for school improvement projects and initiatives to promote social inclusion (Campbell et al, 2001: 10).

Richardson (2000) emphasises if 'inclusive education' is to be achieved, then formalities, policies and procedures are not sufficient, above all it is about 'the love and imagination of inspired teachers' and about listening, welcome and inclusion. For Richardson (Richardson and Miles, 2003), learning to recognise and challenge racism is a fundamental in creative teaching.

The indicators of good practice can be various. During the conduct of the study, MEPESS was alert to the signs in policies, staff responses and pupil discussions, that there may be a holistic, pupil-centred, inclusive approach that is succeeding in some important ways. It is important to highlight as many examples of good practice as possible. 'Cherry-picking' of initiatives by individual teachers working without school support, signs that the senior management in a school has been persuaded of the need for change, all should be sought in the hope that the advantages of whole school, inclusive ethos and practice can be realised for visible minority ethnic pupils.

2.9 Racial equality and special educational needs

The field of Special Educational Needs (SEN) remains deeply contested even without introducing the issue of race equality. As in other countries, Scotland has witnessed a number of national consultation reports and changes in legislation that have been introduced or are pending ( The Riddell Report, SOEID, 1999(a); The Manual of Good Practice in SEN, SOEID, 1999; The Scottish Parliament Inquiry into SEN, Scottish Parliament, 2001; Same as You, Scottish Executive, 2000; For Scotland's Children, Scottish Executive, 2001; Assessing Our Children's Educational Needs, Scottish Executive, 2001; Moving Forward! Additional Support for Learning, Scottish Executive, 2003).

What was of particular interest to the MEPESS study is whether educational research and these policy initiatives had given due regard to issues of ethnic and racial diversity. The research team has drawn on publications by Scottish researchers, other more recent policy-related material and innovative development work that is being done by MELDI, a black-led organisation that works with minority ethnic disabled people in Scotland ( www.meldi.org). This has enabled us to arrive at themes that were of significance for the design of the MEPESS study. As will become apparent, there is a serious lack of research literature on the topic of 'race' equality in SEN policy and practice across the United Kingdom. We found well documented evidence that indicates that white disabled children experience high levels of social control and discrimination in schooling because of environmental, structural and attitudinal barriers to their participation in mainstream education as well as competing arguments about the validity of the notion of 'SEN' and its effectiveness in delivering an education based on the rights of disabled persons (Allan, 1999; Stalker, 2000; Watson et al, 1999). These studies have much to offer in understanding the experience of minority ethnic pupils in general. However, we should also point out that very little is currently known about the representation and experiences of minority ethnic disabled pupils, including those who are identified as having SEN, in Scottish and English schools. This in turn raises questions about the extent to which this group of pupils receives equal opportunities in education and whether local authorities are in a position to comply with recent legal obligations concerning both race and disability equality (Race Relations (Amendment) Act, 2000; Education Disability Strategies, Scotland, 2000).

2.10 The place of 'race' in SEN policy and research

Reflecting on research literature in England and Scotland, Almeida Diniz has consistently argued that SEN policy-related research has adopted a 'colour-blind' approach by failing to acknowledge ethnicity or 'race' as factors in the design and analysis of research studies (Almeida Diniz, 2000/2001; Almeida Diniz and Reed, 2001; Almeida Diniz and Usmani, 2001). Attempting to explain the neglect of 'race', he has contended that changes to SEN educational policy and practice have been hampered by competing discourses that have often been conducted by different interest groups. For instance, he says that problematic questions about the educational performance of black minority ethnic pupils have centred on notions of 'under-achievement', 'school exclusions', or 'bilingualism' and that these arguments have been conducted within discourses on 'anti-racist education', or 'bilingual education'. Rarely have links been made with current debates on 'inclusive education' that are dominated by concerns about disability and SEN.

In evidence to the Scottish Parliament Committee of Inquiry into SEN, he stated:

The discourses on special educational needs and inclusive education are themselves exclusive. They have failed to recognise issues of race and racism … mainstream services are failing to give due regard to racial, ethnic diversity in service provision. (Scottish Parliament, 2001:120).

Almeida Diniz notes that the sole reference to issues of ethnicity in current SEN is a clause that states that learning difficulties that arise from the child's home language should not be equated with the legal definition of 'learning difficulties'. He then argues that such an emphasis on 'their' languages and cultures may have deflected attention away from the reality of racially discriminatory practices that have led to the misdiagnosis of the genuine barriers that some minority ethnic pupils experience in learning (Usmani, 1999; Almeida Diniz and Usmani, 2001). They conclude that the racialisation of educational policy and practice means that traditional notions of 'access' and 'participation' that are evident in mainstream 'inclusive education' discourses are unlikely to command the confidence of black minority ethnic communities, including those who have disabled children. They welcome the approach taken by the Scottish Parliament committee, which acknowledged the existence of institutionalised racism as a feature in special education stating:

The Scottish Executive should undertake systematic ethnic monitoring and ensure that this informs strategy … Racial equality issues are not given sufficient consideration and black and minority ethnic families are disadvantaged by insufficient information and an inequitable distribution of resources. There is a shortage of bilingual Educational Psychologists and evidence from MELDI indicates that schools are generally not inclusive of children's culture, background and experiences, or that of their parents. (Scottish Parliament, 2001: 7, xix and 41).

Finally, they point out that such an explicit acknowledgement is rare in SEN policy discourses and highlight two recently published national policy reports which demonstrate a shift in thinking concerning service provision for minority ethnic disabled children and their families by acknowledging the issue of ethnicity and institutional discrimination (Audit Commission, 2002; The Mental Health Foundation, 2002). The first of these titled, Special Educational Needs: a mainstream issue, reports on the situation in England and Wales. The second Count Us In includes Scotland in its enquiry into the mental health needs of young people with learning disabilities and offers a detailed analysis of the institutionalised barriers experienced by minority ethnic disabled young people in accessing services in health, social care and education.

During the course of the MEPESS study, Audit Scotland was conducting its inquiry on provision for pupils with special educational needs in mainstream schools. Its report was published recently (Auditor General Accounts Commission, 2003). With regard to provision for minority ethnic pupils, it reported that only a third of councils currently have data on the numbers and performance of minority ethnic pupils with SEN. It states:

To ensure that children and young people from minority ethnic communities are not over or under-represented and to ensure that their particular needs, eg language, are being met, this information should be gathered and analysed. (3.16)

The report concludes by recommending that:

Councils should collect information on the numbers of pupils from ethnic minorities assessed as having SEN to help ensure that they are identified effectively and that their needs are subsequently met. (Recommendation 4)

This development is a welcome start towards recognition of 'ethnicity' in SEN policy and practice in Scotland. Nevertheless, there are a number of questions that remain concerning the role of agencies, other than Councils (e.g., Scottish Executive, HMIE, Health, Social Care), in complying with recent legal obligations (Race Relations (Amendment) Act, 2000). Some of these issues concerning the negative impact of structural, institutional and cultural barriers in the design and delivery of services on minority ethnic children with SEN and their families are discussed below.

2.11 The impact of race on institutional practice in SEN

The current invisibility of race equality has resulted in a failure to acknowledge a number of institutional barriers in service provision that have implications for the quality of education provided for minority ethnic disabled pupils in Scottish schools. There is evidence that indicates that:

• There is no national policy, ethnic monitoring or research data on the assessment, placement and performance of minority ethnic pupils in SEN provision, despite the recommendations of the CRE (1996) report in Scotland and ongoing controversy about the performance of minority ethnic pupils in schools in England.
• There is little acknowledgement of other systemic barriers in the design and delivery of statutory and voluntary sector services, including the severe shortage of black professionals in the workforce, lack of translation services, colour-blind curriculum, all of which could be seen to contribute to racial inequality in the experiences of minority ethnic pupils with SEN (Ahmad et al, 1998; Curnyn et al, 1991; Usmani, 1999).
• The views of minority ethnic disabled children have received little attention (Patel, 2002).
• Parents of disabled children are severely under-represented in making decisions about their children, had little knowledge of assessment procedures and complained that professionals had low expectations of them (Chamba et al, 1999; Emerson and Azmi, 1997; Flynn, 2002).

2.12 Researching the experience of disabled children

The decision to include a consideration of the experiences of minority ethnic disabled pupils raised even more complex issues because of well-documented methodological dilemmas that abound in disability research, even before confronting the compounding effects of issues of race and ethnicity. As was mentioned earlier, we found well documented evidence that indicates that white disabled children experience high levels of social control and discrimination in schooling because of environmental, structural and attitudinal barriers to their participation in mainstream education. Whereas minority ethnic disabled young people are likely to share many of the experiences of discrimination encountered by their white disabled peers, they have also been found to carry a double pathology of race and disability by their teachers (Allan, 1999). Patel's (2002) recent small study is a good starting point for exploring minority ethnic disabled children's experiences of their daily lives. To what extent was it going to be possible, within the remit of the MEPESS research project, to explore the complex issues that surround the discourses on race equality and disability and how might mainstream disability research influence this task?

In their report of a seminal study of the lives of disabled children, Watson et al (2001) have argued that much research into disabled childhood has frequently excluded the voices of the young people themselves as research has focused on the perspectives of parents, professionals and other adults. They developed a conceptual and methodological approach which was highly productive in giving disabled children a 'voice' in articulating their perspectives within the broader discourses of rights, inclusion and citizenship. We have greatly benefited from their research and list some of the key features in their findings which are of interest to a study which aims to understand the experiences of a social group who are known to experience social exclusion.

Watson et al report that:

• The categorisation of children as disabled also formed part of the adult world which bounded children's experiences. Such labelling often involved disability as a dominant status, where other differences or similarities remained muted or unattended to, and everything related to a child being explained by their impairment.
• The children themselves were more ambivalent about the use of the category of 'disabled' both in relation to themselves and to others, suggesting their perspectives were based on experience and context.
• Their understanding of the importance of variables such as gender, ethnicity, impairment, social class and locality on these young people's capacity to be independent social actors was again drawn from detailed analyses of their experiences and cultures. However, they also state that the issue of ethnicity was often overlooked by providers of services. Interestingly, they were able to highlight the way gender and ethnicity were ignored in most services for disabled children, as impairment operated as a dominant status. For example, in one area, a service for children with Downs syndrome was part of a school on an estate with a history of racial violence, which meant that black and Asian families were reluctant to send their children there.
• While the majority of disabled children were male, most workers in special education were female. This suggests a lack of role models for boys to emulate.
• Disabled children are capable of identifying good practice. Our data suggests that where children encounter disablist practices in schools, they should be encouraged to put forward their own solutions to their problems. If given space, they are capable of empowering themselves where they encounter teachers and other adult helpers, provided these adults reflexively question their own practice.
• A key strategy they identify is for teachers and others to be flexible in their response to children for whom disability is only one aspect of their lives. The children themselves recognise that they are different, but, as they make clear, this difference only becomes relevant at certain times and in particular contexts.

One of their conclusions is of particular interest. They argue that, at the core of the disability dilemma was a tension between the ways in which difference was constructed and reinforced alongside an imperative to assimilate. On the one hand, children were constantly reminded that they were essentially different from their non-disabled peers, whilst on the other, they were compelled to adopt the behaviour, the ways of speaking, the ways of walking which most closely approximated that of non-disabled children. Whereas the MEPESS study of minority ethnic pupils does not permit such an in-depth analysis as that conducted by Watson et al, there may be commonalities in terms of the forms of social exclusion experienced by both disabled children and their minority ethnic peers.

2.13 Conclusions

While the literature review was underway it became clear that Scotland was embarking on the change in public culture that is required if a society that is so 'mainly white' is to begin to grasp the nettle of what is actually being experienced by minority ethnic pupils in their daily lives, in school and in relations with their classmates and friends. The baseline data from both the new National Census and the School Census is invaluable as a guide towards what is happening down at grassroots level. Both Censuses have confirmed that Scotland's ethnic profile remains distinctive, the minority ethnic population remains small, even though it is growing, both in absolute numbers and as a proportion of the population as a whole. The number of schools that are 'totally white', rather than 'mainly white', is diminishing all the time. There can be few teachers in Scotland who do not now face the challenge of adapting to the needs of pupils who are visible in their difference, and therefore in their vulnerability to racism.

'Needs, not numbers' is the principle that has been developed in research as realisation has grown of how many schools in England, as well as Scotland, are still 'mainly white'. Scotland's ethnic profile may be distinctive, but it is not unique. There are important lessons to be learned from studies that have been carried out in situations similar to our own. All Scotland's teachers and all Scotland's pupils need to acquire the skills of living in a society that is diversifying, especially, if at any time they hope to progress in their careers, and move into situations where they adapt to an ethnic profile that differs from what they have known until now. Even moving from one Scottish city to another brings about change in the ethnic landscape of pupils and their families, and of teachers and their families.

Research studies are essential if the experiences of pupils and schools are to be captured, if the impact of new policies and procedures is to be monitored and reviewed and if pupils and teachers are to engage in learning and teaching within a context of good practice and mutual understanding. Schools can, and should be, islands of safety and security within which pupils learn the principles of racial justice and ethnic diversity. Schools can become such islands if key knowledge and insight are disseminated.