Research into Mixed Race and Education

Research into the educational needs of mixed heritage pupils carried out by L.Tikly, C.Caballero, J.Haynes, and J.Hill of Bristol University was presented by Chamion Caballero at our 2005 AGM. In March 2003 the researchers, in collaboration with Birmingham Education Authority, interviewed pupils, parents and staff in ten schools as well as Ethnic Minority Achievement Service advisors about barriers to achievement experienced by mixed heritage pupils. The research identified key contributory factors and made a number of recommendations which we present for your information.

Mixed heritage pupils are the largest growing ethnic minority group in England and make up 2.5% of the national school age population. 7.3% of children in inner London schools are of mixed heritage, the largest group of which are of White/Black Caribbean background.

The attainment of mixed heritage pupils is below average in primary and secondary schools and they are over-represented in school exclusions. In 2002/2003 the permanent exclusion rates for:

White/Black Caribbean pupils was 2.9 per 1000 pupils

White/Black African pupils was 2.6 per 1000 pupils

White pupils was 1.2 per 1000 pupils

The average is 1.3 for all pupils


Low attainment is affected by deprivation, low teacher expectations and behavioural issues related to peer group pressures.

Low teacher expectations is linked to stereotypical views of fragmented families and identity confusion of mixed heritage pupils.

From those schools who participated in the research the needs of mixed heritage pupils are largely ignored at LEA and school policy levels. Mixed heritage pupils are largely invisible in terms of identification and monitoring or support strategies to raise their achievement.

A number of recommendations have been made at the levels of: national policy (the Department for Education and Skills) and the Commission for Racial Equality and local policy via the Local Education Authority and schools. We list the key recommendations here:


National Policy level

That the DfES should work with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to ensure mixed heritage experiences and identities are reflected in the national curriculum and that they are part of the broader Black community in Britain.

That the needs of mixed heritage pupils forms part of initial teacher training programmes and the training for senior managers.

That the CRE should advise LEAs and schools on how to ensure that strategies put in place meet schools' statutory responsibilities in terms of the Race Relations Act 2000.


Local Policy level

Monitor the achievement of mixed heritage pupils at each key stage to determine patterns of attainment, progress and exclusions and set challenging targets for mixed heritage pupils in LEA improvement plans.

Assist schools to develop appropriate strategies for meeting the educational needs of mixed heritage pupils and provide resources and training where necessary.

Allocate resources from the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant to target underachievement of mixed heritage pupils.


School Policy level

Put in place effective systems of data monitoring and target setting for raising the achievement of mixed heritage pupils into school improvement plans.

Develop effective strategies for raising achievement of mixed heritage pupils which could include those from the research such as:

  • Training for staff to understand the barriers to achievement and the educational needs of mixed heritage pupils.
  • The school to reflect mixed heritage experiences in the curriculum.
  • The school to provide effective roles models for mixed heritage pupils by increasing the numbers of minority ethnic teaching staff and mentors.
  • The school to provide targeted learning support and supplementary learning opportunities for mixed heritage pupils at risk of exclusion.
  • The school to establish strong links with parents of mixed heritage pupils and include them in meetings of Black parents groups.

The report recommends that the Department for Education and Skills would benefit from wider consultation with People in Harmony (PIH). PIH is praised in the report for "bringing an understanding of the history and issues facing mixed heritage people in UK and for the range of resources it produces which the government, LEA's and schools could effectively draw on".

There is a lot to be done! We have been actively seeking out information from LEAs about their current policy and practice aimed at meeting the needs of mixed heritage pupils. You can see key questions which we sent to LEAs and MPs here along with its covering letter here.

We would like to know from you about your response to this item and to know of your experiences in your local area.

Contact us

If you wish to have further information about the research please contact Chamion Caballero at