Evidence for the commission on race and ethnic disparities

David Gillborn, Kalwant Bhopal, Claire E. Crawford, Sean Demack, Reza Gholami, Karl Kitching, Dina Kiwan, Paul Warmington

Research output: Working paper/PreprintWorking paper


This report summarizes the best-available evidence concerning race inequities in the English education system. We outline the scale of race inequity (especially in terms of achievement and exclusions from school) and explore the powerful, and often hidden, operation of institutional racism. Among the key issues we address are: • the complex and extensive role of racism as a factor operating across the system; • the dangers of ‘garbage can’ statistical modelling where statisticians mistakenly imagine that they can identify the separate operation of racism outside the intertwined effects of multiple other factors which are, themselves, shaped by patterns of race inequity. • the myth of the ‘worst’ performing White working class: we show how the misuse of limited data has perpetuated a view of White children as race victims and ignored stark race inequities that impact several minoritized groups, including students of Gypsy/Roma, Black Caribbean, Mixed Race (Black Caribbean/White) and Pakistani heritage. • the operation of racism in schools and classrooms, affecting minoritized children and limiting the chances of minoritized teachers and school leaders. • the need for positive antiracist action across the system, including the role of OFSTED (the schools inspectorate), initial teacher education, and the role of policymakers to finally take seriously the endemic nature of race inequity. The document was submitted to the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities in 2020. We were not contacted by the Commission to discuss our analysis or the evidence that we summarize. Their report, published in March 2021, signals the gulf between the reality of racism in education and official fantasies of White victimhood and a world where Britain is imagined to be a ‘beacon’ of multi-ethnic harmony.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Birmingham
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


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