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DEMOS - 61% of ethnic minority kids in England - and 90% in London - begin Year 1 in schools where ethnic minorities are the majority of the student body

New analysis from the Demos Integration Hub shows that ethnic minority children, who now represent 26 per cent of all school students in England, are substantially more likely than White British children to attend schools in which ethnic minorities are in the majority.

The data, which was processed by Professor Simon Burgess of the University of Bristol and analysed by Demos, exclusively for the Demos Integration Hub, show that children from Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Black Caribbean communities are particularly likely to attend schools with a disproportionate level of other students sharing their ethnic background.

  • > In London, 90 per cent of ethnic minority students begin school in ethnic minority-majority schools, and yet represent only 72 per cent of the student body.
  • > This compares to 49 per cent of White British students in London attending White British-majority schools, despite representing only 28 per cent of students.
  • > Across the country, around 94 per cent of White British students are in White British-majority schools.

The findings come as the Demos Integration Hub has identified that the level of segregation in English schools has remained stable or only somewhat declined as the nation’s diversity has increased substantially. This means that new population growth is not being spread equally throughout the country.

Certain English local authorities have particularly segregated primary schools, with ethnic minority children in Blackburn, Bradford, Birmingham, Oldham, Kirklees, Calderdale and Rochdale having the highest levels of separation from the White British population.

Importantly, the data in the Demos Integration Hub show that there is not always a strong correlation between the level of segregation in schools and the size of the ethnic minority population, or the level of diversity in these towns.

The level of segregation appears to decline as children progress through school, as secondary schools tend to be much larger than primary schools, explaining why the number of ethnic minority majority schools is five percentage points lower overall between Year 1 and Year 7 students. 

Commenting on the findings, Dr Richard Norrie, Research Associate at Demos, said:

"These data show a gradual decline over time in segregation levels in schools for all ethnic minority groups, which is to be welcomed. However, the rate of change is slower than the levels of population growth. While we couldn't expect these communities to spread out on a truly equal scale, we would hope for a much greater level of integration for students at the start of their education, given how important we know it is for children to be connected to a wide range of cultures and opportunities."

Simon Burgess, Professor of Economics at Bristol University, said:

”The pupil population in England’s schools is becoming more diverse. And at the same time, ethnic segregation in schools is generally declining, or is stable. It’s clear that segregation is certainly not zero, and some schools in some places remain highly segregated, but overall I feel that this is a situation that is improving.”  

Other Key Findings on Education from the Demos Integration Hub

The Demos Integration Hub, which launched in May 2015 with sections on Residential Patterns, Work and Welfare and Society and Everyday Life, is a growing repository of information mapping the changing dynamics between the UK’s increasing diversity, and the implications for social cohesion and social mobility.

Today marks the launch of the Hub’s research on education, which also reveals:

  • > While a slightly higher proportion of ethnic minority students study at the elite Russell Group universities than White British students, it is the White British that are more likely to obtain first class degrees, and are less likely to be unemployed six months after graduation
  • > The performance of school children at Key Stage 1 has been incrementally increasing across most groups, with the biggest improvements between 2010-14 found among Bangladeshi, Black Caribbean and Black African students – all of these groups, however, are heavily represented in London and therefore may be benefitting from the ‘London Effect’
  • > Girls outperform boys across all ethnic groups in Key Stage 1 writing assessments, however the gap is most pronounced between Black Caribbean children (12 percentage points) and smallest for Indian children (five percentage points)
  • > White British and Black Caribbean pupils do the least homework, and parents of Chinese, Black and Indian students are more than twice as likely than White parents to pay for extra tuition for their children
  • > Nearly 30 per cent of private school students* are from ethnic minority backgrounds
    * Independent Schools Council (ISC)
  • > Indian pupils are less than half as likely to truant than Black Caribbean and mixed ethnic students. Pupils of Gypsy/Roma or Traveller of Irish Heritage backgrounds have the highest rate of permanent exclusion, and Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi pupils are less likely than White British students to be expelled.
  • > There are significant regional variations in the attainment gap in achieving 5 or more good GCSEs between those with English as their first and second language, at 10 percentage points in Yorkshire and the Humber, compared to -0.4 percentage points in London
  • > After adjusting for class, White students perform worst of all major ethnic groups in secondary school
  • > Chinese students have the highest university application rate of all ethnicities, at 61 per cent, compared to the 33.2 per cent average. White students have the lowest application rate, at 31.4 per cent, while for Asians it is 44.7 per cent, and 39 per cent for Black students.

Commenting on the launch of the Education research, Director of the Demos Integration Hub, David Goodhart, said:

"The first phase of the Integration Hub is now in place. We want the Hub to be at the centre of the debate about integration and segregation issues in Britain, something that the Government made clear will be of central importance to its efforts to tackle extremism. To that end, we will be constantly updating and adapting the Hub as new research is published in this broad area and facts change in the real world. We welcome feedback and contributions to the site, and – in the longer run – we will be expanding its focus beyond the UK, to capture international comparisons of the integration/segregation story.”


Sophie Gaston, Press and Communications Manager, Demos 
ph. 0207 367 6325 (Out of Hours: 074727 45678)

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