Five years ago, I was disturbed when I researched the statistics of the attainment of Black Caribbean children to find a legacy of underachievement and high levels of exclusion rates in UK public schools. Fast forward to the present day, nothing has changed! As a Black male teacher and scholar of ‘Caribbean’ decent this led me to embrace the responsibility to make a positive change and disrupt systematic educational barriers on a micro and macro level and raise the attainment, aspirations and opportunities for Black and Global Majority (BGM) children.
The latest figures reveal that there has been a sharp rise in permanent exclusions from English state schools. Black Caribbean children are more likely to be identified as having social and emotional difficulties (Lumby and Coleman, 2016). Therefore, Black Caribbean children have a permanent exclusion rate nearly three times higher (0.28 per cent) than the school population as a whole (0.10 per cent) (DfE, 2018). This is a major concern, as those children that are being excluded are five times more likely to go to prison (www.ed.ac.uk).
This is not a current trend, as Black Caribbean students have been overrepresented in permanent exclusions for decades. This is a part of a structure of institutionalised racism where ethnicity has subtly had an impact on perceptions, aspirations and identity of Black youths. This is a system where those who are advantaged by the current system have no interest in opposing change as discussed by Lumby and Coleman (2016).
By having a colour blind ‘one size fits all’ approach will not change the exclusion rates for Black Caribbean children. A cultural approach is needed, addressing the vast range of barriers these children face. In particular, addressing race-specific barriers and the lack of attention allocated towards race and racial identity, that ultimately leads to exclusion and underachievement of Black children.
Lumby, J and Coleman, M (2016) Leading for Equality, Making Schools Fairer. London: Sage.