HL Deb 14 November 2000 vol 619 cc23-4WA
Baroness Whitaker

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have to deal with the situation where African Carribean pupils enter compulsory schooling as the highest achieving group but leave it as the group least likely to gain five high-grade GCSEs, as revealed in the recent report Educational Inequality: Mapping Race, Class and Gender, commissioned by Ofsted. [HL4497]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone)

The Government have been concerned since they came to power to tackle the relatively low achievement of African Caribbean pupils in school. The Ofsted report, based on 1997 data, rightly draws attention to worrying evidence from a small number of local education authorities that the relative attainment of African Caribbean pupils worsens between the start and end of their compulsory schooling. However, it also shows that there have been absolute and relative overall improvements in their attainment at GCSE. We hope that further, more recent, evidence will show continued improvements.

The Government's drive to improve school standards, especially in literacy and numeracy, is delivering higher attainment by pupils of all backgrounds. We plan to extend that drive to Key Stage 3 and to extend the Excellence in Cities programme, which targets areas where ethnic pupils tend to be disproportionately represented.

We are providing targeted finance for African Caribbean and other ethnic minority pupils through the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant. In 2001–02, the grant will support £153.5 million of local expenditure—an increase of 4.5 per cent. We also plan to enhance ethnic monitoring of pupils' progress to allow individual pupil-level achievement to be linked to ethnic group data to ensure better targeted support for groups at risk of poor attainment.