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Black pupils 'failing on purpose': Your stories


Black schoolboys can choose to perform poorly to avoid undermining their masculinity, the head of the Jamaican Teachers' Association has said.

Adolph Cameron said that in Jamaica, where homophobia was a big issue, school success was often seen as feminine or "gay".

Here BBC News website readers share their stories.

Erulu, London

As a black boy born and raised in inner city London, my experience tells me that what stops academic achievement are bad role models, lack of high expectations and lack of parental support. All common ailments to all inner city children.

This is regardless of skin colour, of poverty, family breakdown leading to lack of purpose and discipline, underfunded schools and lack of opportunities to progress.

I grew up and went to school in Bermondsey. I am of Nigerian descent. It is a different cultural heritage, but I don't think that was the real reason for under-achievement among my class mates.

By the time you get to 13 or 14 you are just one of the kids, one of the boys. That is where your influences come from.

Young black boys weren't expected to achieve and were allowed to get away with misbehaving in class.

Homophobia was never ever an apparent issue. It is the negative, bad role models that young black boys see which has such a damaging effect and the low expectations that many have of them.

Jacqueline Sealey, Middlesex

As a black mother of Caribbean heritage, who has brought up three children in the UK, I am at a loss to know why there are no positive suggestions from Mr Cameron.

Such sweeping generalisations do excessive harm and damage to our young people. It also belittles those of us who have instilled the importance of a sense of achievement into our boys and young men.

My son is now a film maker for a UN agency dealing with the vexed issue of climate change, and is owner and director of his own film company.

Mind you, as his mother, I was the first black, and female, central government inspector for the Adult Learning Inspectorate - the tertiary equivalent of Ofsted.

It is about the kind of education I got where people are respected for who they are and their abilities, and are not undermined by preconceptions and stereotypes.

I walked into a secondary school of potentially failing black pupils, just before becoming an education inspector, to show the head teacher how to turn around this apparently perennial failure of black boys into something worth celebrating!

Of the 20 or more pupils with whom I worked over a period of four years - of all those whom I have met in recent years, nearly all have now got their first degrees; some their masters degrees; and a few have gone on the work at PhD level.

Lucy Knight, London

I am a high level teaching assistant in a London primary school. I did my degree in education and I am also a school governor.

We have a large mix of boys from African-Caribbean descent, East and West African children and Eastern European pupils. I myself have two children of half African-Caribbean descent.

This makes for interesting reading, but it is only one opinion.

About three years ago I attended a local Government Equality in Education conference where the research clearly pointed to the perceptions and attitudes of some teaching staff as having a negative impact on the learning of boys of Caribbean descent.

There can be an expectation of negative behaviour as well as a reluctance to challenge such behaviour proportionately in its early stages. This can also be the case for white males from low income families.

What we do know is that much more evidence based research is urgently needed to readdress this appalling imbalance and to stop failing these children.

Dononvan Davy, Milton Keynes

I am a product of that education system and trained as a teacher in Jamaica. I have taught in the UK and in Jamaica.

The focus of the school curriculum has much to do with the problem. There is nothing taught to inspire students. Yet there are so many inspirational black people past and present.

Nothing of who those role models are is taught to black kids and there lies the failure of the education system at home in Jamaica, abroad in the UK and elsewhere such as America.

If these kids knew of the greatness of inspirational black people, they would begin to realise their potential but there is a concerted global effort to suppress this knowledge.

Renate Drauz-Brown, Ayrshire

As a secondary school teacher, these comments do not surprise me one bit and I don't think that they only apply to black boys of whom we have very few.

I teach at a secondary school in Troon, we do have some black pupils but not many. On the whole it is an affluent town where education is highly regarded, but that is not true for all our pupils.

To be honest, I think it is a teenage problem. Teenagers, boys in particular, are more concerned with how they are perceived by their peers than by any long-term academic achievements.

Pupils believe that they need status, but it is not the done thing to do that through academic achievement.

More on this story

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