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Bangladeshi and Pakistani pupils

Enabling every child to fulfil his or her potential is at the heart of the Government’s drive to raise school standards. While there is encouraging evidence that many children from minority ethnic backgrounds are doing well in our schools there remain unacceptably wide achievement gaps between children from some ethnic groups.

Good practice issued by DCSF encourages all schools to take a whole-school approach to tackling under achievement. Effective schools have shown that a key factors in their success are:

  • strong leadership
  • a whole-school ethos based on high expectations in staff and pupils and effective use of data
  • effective teaching and learning
  • an active policy that promotes inclusion and tackles racism and poor behaviour
  • recognising and valuing the cultural, language and religious heritage of all pupils
  • working closely with parents and the wider community.

Addressing the needs of pupils from any ethnic group is dependent on fully understanding the trends to achievement in individual schools and local authorities (LAs) and what steps are taken to respond to the detailed emerging data on the achievement of all pupils by ethnic background.

To put the achievement of Bangladeshi and Pakistani heritage pupils in context:

Data arising from 2003 Pupil Level Annual School Census (PLASC) confirmed the disparity of achievement between pupils of different ethnic groups. In particular the data confirmed that:

  • black pupils and those from Bangladeshi and Pakistani backgrounds tend to underachieve in our schools. 
  • pupils of Indian and Chinese heritage tend to be the highest performing group of all pupils, including outperforming the majority White group. 
  • there also tends to be a gender difference with girls tending to perform better in schools than boys across all groups.
  • deprivation also plays a fundamental role with pupils not eligible for free school meals (FSM) performing better than FSM pupils across all ethnic groups.

The introduction of the Pupil Level Annual School Census (PLASC) from January 2002 allowed for detailed analysis of pupil data by ethnic group. This ensured that central Government, LAs and schools had consistent and undeniable evidence of the progress of minority ethnic pupils to inform planning, target setting and help identify effective best practice.  PLASC also benefited planning by LAs as all LAs included as part of their Educational Development Plans their strategies to raise the attainment of minority ethnic pupils at risk of underachievement.

Aiming high: Raising the achievement of minority ethnic pupils

• In autumn 2003, DfES launched a number of projects arising from the spring 2003 Aiming high consultation.
• Strategy based on ensuring minority ethnic attainment is a key mainstream responsibility.
• Initial projects include targeted work aimed at specifically raising attainment of African-Caribbean pupils, including training for headteachers; and developing accredited training for specialist and mainstream teachers working with bilingual learners.

Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG)
EMAG key facts:

  • EMAG is part of the Standards Fund.
  • For 2004-05 EMAG made available to schools around £162 million which was devolved to schools via their local education authorities (LEAs).
  • EMAG supports targeted activities in schools that are directly related to raising the attainment of minority ethnic pupils. Headteachers have the freedom to decide their spending priorities. Typically these are: staff; specialist teachers; bilingual support staff; training; teaching and learning materials.

The majority of Bangladeshi and Pakistani pupils are learning English as an additional language with different degrees of fluency in English. Where pupils are orally fluent in English it is recognised that they may continue to require additional support, particularly with academic writing.

There are a number of national initiatives aimed at providing support for bilingual pupils.

  • The Primary National Strategy (PNS), working in partnership with the Ethnic Minority Achievement Project Team of the DfES, has initiated a project in 21 LEAs which aims to increase the confidence and expertise of mainstream primary teachers in meeting the needs of advanced bilingual learners. The work of the project will support improvement in the standards of attainment in Literacy and Numeracy by bilingual learners through using and developing the existing knowledge and understanding of bilingualism and EAL pedagogy. The EAL pilots are planned to run from January 2004 to August 2006.  An additional 40 LEAs have expressed an interest in participating as associates of the project.
  • The 21 LEAs include LEAs with substantial numbers of Pakistani and Bangladeshi pupils - Lancashire, Bradford, Kirklees, Newcastle, Manchester. Bristol, Sandwell, Birmingham, Leicester City, Luton, Hertfordshire, Slough, Surrey, Ealing, Brent, Redbridge, Hackney, Haringey, Lambeth, Newham, Tower Hamlets. This project is aimed at equipping mainstream teachers with the skills to address the needs of their bilingual pupils.
  • The DfES is also working in partnership with local education authorities and academic institutions to encourage the availability of accredited specialist training for teachers working with bilingual learners and additional training for teaching assistants.
  • Additional work is also underway to encourage a nationally consistent assessment model to track the developing English language fluency of bilingual learners.

Achievement of Bangladeshi heritage pupils – an Ofsted press notice and report (HMI 513), published 7 May 2004, are available on the Ofsted website. This survey explores the educational experience of Bangladeshi pupils in English schools.  The report shows that well-focused efforts by schools are helping Bangladeshi teenagers make better progress at school.  The schools included in the survey represent schools of different types in LEAs which have relatively high numbers of Bangladeshi pupils.

Web links:
Achievement of Bangladeshi heritage pupils - Ofsted press release
Achievement of Bangladeshi heritage pupils - Ofsted publication
Ethnic Minority Achievement - Standards Site



Background: Gender and race and their affect on achievement - Overview

Effective date: 19 March 2004
Posted date: 19 March 2004
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A new UK Government took office on 11 May. As a result the content on this site may not reflect current Government policy. All statutory guidance and legislation published on this site continues to reflect the current legal position unless indicated otherwise. To view the new Department for Education website, please go to