Groups at risk of educational underachievement in Bristol are focus of new video resource

Nine new videos being launched today will be available online to all schools as a resource that can be used to raise the educational achievement of groups who could be at risk of underachieving.

The ‘Making the Difference’ series of videos has been created following research carried out by Professor Leon Tikly and his team at the University of Bristol Graduate School of Education and commissioned by the Bristol Education Attainment Partnership, a joint enterprise of Bristol City Council and the Bristol Legacy Commission.

Their ‘Making the Difference’ report, published in June 2012, compared the achievement of some groups of learners across Bristol and with the national average.

The study found that Bristol is seeing increasing diversity in the number of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) learners in its state-funded schools with newer arrivals, particularly from Somalia and Eastern Europe, joining the city’s established African/Caribbean and Asian heritage communities. The 2012 School Census shows that 32% of learners are from BME groups, compared with 25% five years previously.

Whilst educational standards in the city have been consistently improving at each Key Stage over the last five years, improvement rates vary and inequalities in educational outcomes remain.

Professor Leon Tikley said:

“What is vital to raise attainment for all is good leadership, a safe and supportive learning environment, well-trained, empowered teachers with a strong sense of their professional identity and a relevant curriculum that respects diversity.”

Paul Jacobs, Bristol City Council’s Service Director for Education and Skills said:

“The council and our partners support the work and efforts made to create this video series and hope that it will be a valuable new resource for schools in raising educational achievement of all pupils.

“We have also just launched Learning City, an initiative that unites the city’s leaders, both in education and business, to work together to raise educational achievement so that every citizen has access to a good education.”

The study identified that Somali learners, Eastern European boys, White/Black Caribbean boys, Gypsy/Roma and Traveller learners are below average at each Key Stage. It also found that White British learners eligible for free school meals also represent a significant “at risk of underachievement” group.

Achievement and underachievement was found to be the result of multiple factors including poverty, the level of young people’s aspirations and those of their parents, teachers’ expectations and the quality of engagement between schools and parents.

The research found a correlation between levels of deprivation and low educational achievement which affects all groups to a greater or lesser degree and this was a bigger factor than ethnic group differences.

It found that all BME groups would be supported better if there were more credible and positive mentors for them. A lack of positive role models has also been identified as a factor in the underachievement of White British learners who are eligible for free school meals.

The ‘Making The Difference’ research and video series focuses on seven key areas of successful practice in Bristol schools that each contribute to high expectations and attainment for all including creating an ethos of high expectations with zero tolerance for under achievement,  supporting pupils’ learning, having an inclusive and relevant curriculum and communicating with and engaging with parents.

Among the film topics are Leadership, Changing Demography, Role Models, Parental Engagement, Poverty, Best Practice and Hope and Aspiration.

Speaking at the launch will be the films’ presenter and co-producer, broadcaster Sherrie Eugene-Hart as well as Bristol’s Lord Mayor Alastair Watson and a parent and young person.

Learn more about the study and download a copy of the report at: Making the Difference: Ethnicity and Achievement in Bristol