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Research by the Department of Education at Oxford University shows gaps in educational achievement at age 16 have decreased substantially over the last 25 years, particularly in the attainment of different ethnic groups.

Closing the attainment gaps

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The research shows pupils from most ethnic minority groups are now on average achieving GCSE results that are as good as or better than their white British peers.

The study by Professor Steve Strand, commissioned for the Department for Education, draws on data for attainment and ethnicity between 1991 and 2013.

It shows that Indian and Chinese pupils are now pulling well ahead of their white British classmates, with Bangladeshi and Black African students improving their GCSE grades significantly and starting to do better, on average, than white British pupils. This is despite the fact that Bangladeshi and black African students are often from very socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

The two lowest achieving groups are currently black Caribbean and mixed white and black Caribbean students, according to the study. Yet, again the longstanding gaps in the academic attainment of these two groups have closed substantially.

In 2004, only 24% of black Caribbean pupils achieved five or more GCSE A*-C grades or their equivalent including English and Mathematics (5EM). This was nearly half the rate for white British students (41.6%) and a gap of 17.6 percentage points. Nearly 10 years on, in 2013, this gap had narrowed to just 7.2 percentage points (53.3% vs. 60.5%).

Read more on the University website (opens new window)