For a long time black pupils have been at the bottom of the league tables, with only a small number of them gaining 5 good grades at GCSE level. However, recent figures have revealed that black pupils have achieved the biggest rise in grades at GCSE, with 58.1% of black pupils achieving 5 or more A*-C grades last year, just 2% lower than the national average.
Black pupils grades have risen by 8.8% since 2010 with the greatest achievement can be seen in black boys from poorer backgrounds (for example those who receive free school meals). 43.1% of black boys from low income families achieved 5 or more A*-Cs a rise of 4.4% since 2009.
The department of education has attributed the improvements to various factors including the introduction of sponsored academies which have helped transform under-achieving state schools into high performance academies. This has allowed schools to “leave council control by converting their schools into academies”. The report showed that while 46.5% of students at state funded schools attained 5 or more good GCSEs, 55.8% of those in academies reached the same benchmark.
In addition, several more black pupils have taken the English Baccalaureate which according to the report “pupils for GCSEs in the key academic subjects most valued by leading universities and employers”. Pupil premium, which helps fund students from disadvantaged backgrounds, has also contributed to black students’ increasing success.
Improvements have also been seen in primary school with 73% of black 11 year olds achieving the expected levels in Math, reading, and writing.
Schools Minister Lord Nash said:
“For years black pupils’ results have lagged behind their peers’ but that gap is being eroded at all levels – the government’s school reforms are helping thousands more black pupils, including the poorest, to do well at primary school, thrive in their GCSEs, and then succeed in life.
It is particularly through sponsored academies, where long-term underperforming local-authority-run schools are being turned around by brilliant sponsors, that black pupils are benefiting. There are proportionately far more black pupils in academies than in council schools, and the improving performance of black pupils is reflected in the improvements in academies.”