Black primary school children in Kingston are scoring lower in key subjects which may harm employability, according to a school adviser for BAME students.
Achieving for Children improvement advisor Kathryn Kashyap said she was concerned with the decline in levels of attainment in Black boys and girls over the last three years.
She said: “It does seem, and this is backed up by research, that Black children come in doing quite well and then their levels start to go down and I think that has to mean that we look at what we are doing across the board at our schools.”
The Kingston Race and Equalities Council (KREC) hosted an online panel discussion on October 14 on race and education as part of a series highlighting Black History Month.
Dr Kashyap said this leads to problems later in secondary education and eventually limits job prospects in adulthood.
She said: “Particularly for [level] five plus English and maths [at GCSE] it’s pretty low.”
Panellists answered questions submitted by the public including ways teachers can meet the emotional needs of students from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Rachel Lukwago, Royal Borough of Kingston BAME staff group member, said students may have better outcomes with teachers who look like them.
“If you are providing a community [service], you need to reflect the community you are supporting somehow,” she said.
‘Can’t pick and choose’
Owen Rhead, senior assistant headteacher at Tolworth School for Girls said it would be difficult for schools to be highly selective about recruiting teachers from BAME backgrounds and they cannot be fussy.
“If I have a maths candidate for an interview and I might be advertising for a long time, I’m actually really lucky to have that one candidate.
“So, I can’t really pick and choose if they’re one ethnicity or another.”
Rhead, who is also a senior lecturer in the faculty of education at Roehampton University, said hiring BAME teachers based purely on their race would be “patronising”.
He added it was important to employ educators based on merit and that pupils receive individual needs-based support.
He said at his school, the lowest achievement levels are among white pupils.
“That story is very different as you go across the borough,” he said.
The next panel discussion in the series takes place on November 19 on Young and Older people.
For more information, visit Kingston Race and Equalities Council.