There are important differences in the educational achievement of pupils from different ethnic groups. (Item A line 1). In 2006 85% of Chinese girls achieved 5 or more GCSE grades A*- C compared to only 50% of Black girls. 75% of Chinese boys achieved 5 or more GCSE grades A*-C compared to only 40% of Black boys. This clearly illustrates Item A’s statement that at GCSE, on average Chinese pupils perform better than black pupils (item A line lines 2 and 3). This essay will assess sociological explanations for ethnic differences in educational achievement.
Gillborn (1990) and Gillborn and Youdell (2000) argues that the impact of labelling (Howard Becker (1971) – Interactionist) on black pupils contributes to their under achievement. Teachers often label students on how closely the fit the ideal pupil. Negative labels may lead teachers to treat ethnic minority pupils differently and therefore lead to differences in achievement of ethnic groups. They argue that teachers are quicker to discipline Black pupils and that this is because they expect Black pupils to present more discipline problems. They conclude that much of the conflict between white teachers and black pupils stems from the racial stereotypes that teachers hold. This explains why Black pupils (Item A line 3) underachieve. This explanation does however ignore the fact that White children also underachieve, in 2006 only 50% of White boys achieved 5 or more GCSE’s at grade A*- C. It also does not explain why Chinese pupils (an ethnic minority) achieve more than any other ethnic group.
Wright (1992) argues that Asian pupils can also be victims of teacher labeling. Teachers assume Asian pupils have a poor grasp of the English language and left them out of class discussions or used simplistic language when speaking to them. This does not explain why Chinese and Indian pupils achieve more than any other ethnic group, but does explain why other Asian groups such as Bangladeshi and Pakistani pupils (item A line 3) under achieve and why there are differences in achievement for ethnic groups. This explanation also ignores the pupils response to the labels they are given.
Fuller (1984) found in her study of black girls who were high achievers that they had rejected the labels that teachers gave them and channelled their anger at the teachers into educational success. She argues that this proves that pupils may still succeed even when they refuse to conform and that negative labelling does not always lead to failure. This could explain why Chinese pupils do well even though they are labelled as not having a grasp of English and excluded from group discussions. This still however…