YOUNG VOICES

White British Children Outperformed By Ethnic Minority Groups

22/03/2013 09:48 | Updated 21 May 2013

White British children are being outperformed at school by a wide range of ethnic minority groups, including Chinese, Sri Lankan and Nigerian youngsters, a leading think-tank has revealed.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information act by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) show the percentage of children classed as white British or English gaining five A* to C grades at GCSE is below the national average.

Some nine minority groups of children are above the average, including Vietnamese, Indian, Ghanaian, Bangladeshi and Sierra Leone, the local authority data reveals.

But the report adds that some groups, such as Portuguese, Congolese and Yemeni students, are under-achieving.

The report on integration in Britain is published ahead of a speech on immigration by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

The coalition Government wants to slash net migration to the tens of thousands by the next general election.

IPPR associate fellow Jill Rutter said: "Many children of migrants perform very well in school - London has the highest proportion of migrant children in its schools, yet secondary schools in London have performed better and improved at a faster rate over the last 10 years than elsewhere in the country.

"But some groups are still being left behind."

The IPPR found that some migrant communities were being left behind because the Government had neglected integration in favour of focusing on its key migration target.

Government attempts to help migrants fit into British society have been too heavily focused on "symbolic" issues of national identity, rather than more useful skills such as learning the English language, it said.

The think-tank argues that migrants have a responsibility to learn English to integrate and calls for English language teaching to be prioritised in a bid to tackle educational and employment problems.

Ms Rutter went on: "With Nick Clegg giving a speech today, immigration continues to dominate the political agenda.

"But the question of integration, what happens when migrants actually arrive, has been neglected by policymakers.

"The Government has so far failed to set out the kind of integration policies that an increasingly-diverse UK needs, and has instead focused on its net migration target.

"The Government needs to make the citizenship process more meaningful in order to promote integration, rather than restricting access to citizenship in order to hit its net migration target."

The IPPR said a stronger consensus within the European Union about our obligations to learn the language of our host countries, even for short-term migrants, was also needed.

The report, which forms part of IPPR's Everyday Integration research programme, argues that a new approach to integration policy is needed, focused on overcoming practical barriers to integration such as poverty and unemployment.

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