Chart A: Primary School population in England by Region
England’s population is diverse, but this diversity is not evenly spread across the country. Poverty and wealth have always been geographically distributed: in the late 19th century the social reformer Charles Booth mapped the relative wealth of the streets on London (Inquiry into the Life and Labour of the People in London) and showed how the different social classes were clustered into particular parts of the capital. Similar patterns exist in modern Britain.
The more recent migrants to Britain are often similarly clustered in settlements in particular areas. Those descended from earlier waves of settlement are often more dispersed, geographically and by inter-marriage. The web-pages in this section of the Multiverse site are designed to help users explore the particular diversity of their local area – where your Teacher Education institution is situated, the LEA and the schools in which you work.
School populations and their local communities are very different in different parts of not only the country, but even of the part of the city or district.
Taking as an example the number of primary school pupils from a minority ethnic background, at the regional level there is a variation from just 3.0% of the school population in the North East, to 60.9% in Inner London. At a more local level, the variation is even greater - from 0.5% in Cumbria, Barnsley and Herefordshire. This does not include small LEAs (with less than 10,000 primary pupils, several of whom have no minority ethnic pupils) to 75.6% in Tower Hamlets (January 2002 maintained school pupil figures, from DfES Statistics of Education: Schools 2002 (2002), Table 47a).
There are wide variations in school achievement levels related to social class, which impact greatly on participation in post-16 education and in higher education. There are other potentially excluded groups in schools, including pupils with English as an additional language, asylum seekers, refugees, and Roma children, those with disabilities, or those from different faith communities.
All teachers should be able to teach successfully in areas of high and low diversity, and to recognise both the needs of pupils from diverse backgrounds, and the imperative for social inclusion. This is as important in those areas where there are very few pupils from minority ethnic backgrounds as it is in inner London. For all of these groups, student teachers and trainees need to be prepared to ensure their full and effective inclusion in mainstream education.
Diverse settings require diverse approaches. While all teachers need to be prepared for teaching in the diversity of modern Britain, how they teach will reflect the local needs and experiences of the community: teaching effectively and for achievement in the north-east will necessarily be different from teaching effectively and for achievement in inner London, though both sets of pupils equally need to understand contemporary society and to realise their full potential.
The population of the UK is monitored on a ten-yearly basis through the national census. The most recent of these was carried out in 2001. Data from this has been used to construct displays of the distribution of different ethnic groups in the General Population in your area on an LEA basis.
The population of pupils in schools may well differ in its composition from the general population. The ratio of adults to young people varies between different social and ethnic groups: Data on the school population is collected more frequently than it is for the census, because more up-to-date information is often needed at the local level. Some of this data has been used to construct displays of the distribution of ethnic groups in the Primary School Children in your area, and of ethnic groups in the Secondary School Pupils in your area, both on an LEA basis.
The social and ethnic composition of the school workforce is an important concern. It is generally thought desirable that the teaching workforce should represent the various ethnic groups in the areas it serves. This is currently not the case, though there are more teachers from minority ethnic groups in parts of the country where there are more minority ethnic pupils. Data on the ethnic composition of the teaching workforces is now collected on an annual basis by the LEAs. This has been used to construct displays of the different ethnic groups in the Teaching workforce in your area.
Together, these four sets of displays can be used to examine the ethnic composition of your local area – the general population, the primary school children, the secondary school children and the teachers in post.
This facility will be enhanced in the coming months and years to show other elements of diversity in the local area.
The data on which these facilities have been constructed comes from a variety of sources, and – as with most demographic data – there are a number of qualifications and issues concerning the data and its interpretation. Click on link for discussion on Data Sources and Issues.
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IPSE, London Metropolitan University