chapter  3
26 Pages

What is Happening in Inner City Schools?

As far as schools situated in inner city areas are concerned, there have been many studies of school performance. A recent example is an attempt of Barnes, in which he compared backward readers in primary schools throughout the equivalent of the ILEA in 1952/54 with 1968/71 and more limited comparisons in the area within which an EPA study took place. In 1953 the LCC took a sample of schools from which they derived a representative sample of children; of this sample 14 per cent of the 11-year-olds were described as backward

(using the criterion of a reading score below 85). In 1968 a cohort of 8-year-olds contained 27 per cent with a reading score of 85 and below and the same cohort three years later yielded a similar percentage. Assuming a normal distribution the expected proportion scoring below 85 is 16 per cent. Therefore, it is possible to argue that in the early 1950s LCC primary school leavers were performing at a

definition of maladjustment the percentage of pupils rated as maladjusted in the Isle of Wight was 10·6 per cent. By contrast, the percentage in primary schools in an inner city borough in the ILEA at the same time was 19·1 per cent. As a result of this finding a special survey was undertaken of one in ten pupils aged 11-plus in the ILEA: these were scored by their classroom teacher on the Rutter scale. This indicated that 21·6 per cent were maladjusted. It seems safe to conclude that the incidence of 'maladjustment' is twice as high in inner city areas as in small towns in Britain. In this context it is worth noting that the reading scores of maladjusted pupils were of considerable educational interest: whereas the mean for pupils classified as normal was 96·6, those considered to be maladjusted had a mean score over ten points lower (86·2). Put another way, whereas 'good readers' had a mean behaviour rating of 2·3, for poor readers the comparable figure was 7·6. Therefore the inner city school is likely to have more maladjusted pupils and they are more likely to be poor performers in school. This point about relative performance of pupils 'at risk' is worth making in relation to social disadvantage. Again, to cite literacy data and the EPA index: pupils were ranked according to the level of their own exposure to social disadvantages and grouped into low-risk (no disadvantage) and high-risk (exposed to five or more disadvantages). The mean reading score of pupils with no disadvantage was 103·8; with five or more disadvantages 81·5. This is a gap of more than 22 points and is the equivalent of more than two years' reading age at 8 or 9. Put simply: disadvantaged children do less well than advantaged, and inner city schools have more disadvantaged children than other schools. Maladjusted children do less well than adjusted and inner city schools have more maladjusted children than other schools. The dynamics of this relationship are analysed in a recent study in the ILEA (and quoted by Frank Field in the introductory essay) which indicates that 'educational failure' precedes and gives rise to behavioural difficulties, rather than the other way round. Further, that other factors (class, family size, immigrant status) which are related to maladjustment 'do so to a considerable extent only through their effects on academic performance'.