Gap talk

TES (Times Education Supplement) - - INSIGHT -

The re­port claims to “shed new light on the gulf be­tween the rhetoric and re­al­ity of ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy and race equal­ity in Eng­land”.

It says that pol­i­cy­mak­ers have en­gaged in ‘gap talk’: a ten­dency to “se­lec­tively cite ap­par­ently im­pres­sive per­cent­age im­prove­ments (mea­sured over a brief timescale) in or­der to give the im­pres­sion that things are get­ting bet­ter”.

The re­port quotes more than a decade of state­ments by the govern­ment about the progress of black pupils, most re­cently Lord Nash

in 2014, say­ing “for years black pupils’ re­sults have lagged be­hind their peers’ but that gap is be­ing eroded at all lev­els”.

The fig­ures in the re­port show that the com­par­a­tive odds against black pupils achiev­ing the GCSE bench­mark had fallen in 2012 and 2013, but this was af­ter they in­creased in the wake of the in­tro­duc­tion of the Ebacc.

The the pa­per says: “De­spite re­peated as­ser­tions that the black-white gap is ‘be­ing eroded’, ‘nar­row­ing’ and

‘clos­ing’, the odds of greater suc­cess for white stu­dents re­main sig­nif­i­cant through­out the 25 years we have re­viewed; fluc­tu­at­ing be­tween one and half and more than twice the chance of their black Caribbean peers.

“In this way, pol­i­cy­mak­ers’ ‘gap talk’ has dis­tracted from a recog­ni­tion that there has been lit­tle im­prove­ment in the sub­stan­tive race in­equal­ity be­tween the achieve­ments of white Bri­tish and black Caribbean stu­dents in the bench­mark mea­sures of suc­cess.”

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