SEN figures suggest racism in the classroom

New research has claimed that children from certain ethnic minority groups are encountering racist attitudes and different treatment in school, resulting in them being more likely to be identified as having behavioural problems or special educational needs.

A Department for Education and Skills-commissioned study shows that black Caribbean and mixed white and black Caribbean pupils are one and a half times more likely to be identified as having behavioural, emotional and social difficulties than white British pupils.

“The literature suggests teachers and school factors including racist attitudes and differential treatment of black pupils as a reason for their over-representation in this category,” the report states.  However, this over-representation is not similar for all black pupils.

Researchers found that racism, bullying and negative attitudes from teachers were also contributory factors to the high incidence of SEN and behavioural problems identified among gypsy and traveller children.

This group of children are nearly three times more likely to have special educational needs than white British pupils, although the lifestyle and culture of traveller families is also highlighted as playing a part.

The report goes on to suggest a possible link between higher rates of sensory impairments among Bangladeshi and Pakistani pupils and the incidence of their parents being blood relations.

Bangladeshi pupils are nearly two times more likely to have a hearing impairment than white British pupils, while Pakistani pupils are between two and two-and-a-half times more likely to have profound and multiple learning difficulties, a visual, hearing or multi-sensory impairment.

The researchers called on the Department of Health to develop a sensitive strategy to work with these communities to highlight and reduce this risk.

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