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The Educational Achievement of Black African Children in England

Demie, Feyisa

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Purpose: This research aims to explore Black African pupils’ attainment at the end of secondary school in England. Two research questions guided this study: What does the attainment data tell us by ethnic background? What does the attainment data tell us by language diversity and EAL English proficiency? Methodology: The research draws on detailed LA data for 2,189 pupils who sat General Certificate of School Education (GCSE) exams in an inner London Local Authority (LA). The methodological approach employed consisted of data analysis. Firstly, attainment was matched to pupil information by background factors and analysed by ethnic background, languages spoken at home and stages of English proficiency to illustrate differences in attainment. Findings: The main findings of the empirical evidence show that the Black African ethnic category is one of the most linguistically diverse groups with the highest and the lowest achieving groups. Black African pupils speaking Ga, Swahili and Luganda had the highest rates of attainment, well above the national average, while Krio and Somali speakers had lower rates of attainment, below that nationally. The study also identified some of the main reasons for performance differences between different groups including factors such as stage of English proficiency. Conclusions: The overall conclusion of the study confirms that Black African pupils were more likely to gain good grades above their peers at GCSE but within this group there were wide variations. It also shows the potential of the use of language diversity data to examine the attainment of Black African pupils. The study argues that the government should recognise the importance of cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity in multicultural schools. Based on the lessons from the case study LA, the government should consider collecting English proficiency data, in addition to language spoken at home to monitor performance and to tackle underachievent in schools. Policy and research implications are discussed in the final section.


Demie, F. (2021). The Educational Achievement of Black African Children in England. Lambeth Local Authority

Report Type Project Report
Publication Date 2021-07
Deposit Date Jan 4, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jan 4, 2022
Publisher URL
Additional Information Publisher: School Research and Statistics Unit Education and Learning, Lambeth LA
Type: monograph
Subtype: project_report


Published Report (1.3 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© The Author. All rights reserved. July 2021

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