chapter  6
28 Pages

Ethnic Conflict in Millroad School

Millroad School, a predominantly working-class comprehensive school, is located in the east of an inner-city, multiethnic London borough surrounded by small shops and cafes, most of which are owned by the local Turkish community. Sixty per cent of Millroad pupils are eligible for free school meals, and only 23 per cent attain five or more A* to Cs in the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examinations.1 This borough is characterized by high diversity within the ethnic minority population, an active political community, and a history of concern for race equality. Millroad School had 1,204 students on roll during the academic year 2003/04, the year before the study. The majority of students (968, or 80.4 per cent) come from ethnic minority communities, with African Caribbeans forming the largest group (367 students), followed by Turks (320 students). Exclusion rates are high amongst Turkish and African Caribbean students (6.6 and 9.3 per cent, respectively), and relatively low for ethnic majority and Asian students (5.5 and 6.2 per cent, respectively). The overall exclusion rate per academic year is around 8 per cent (98 out of 1,204 students). Also, Asian students attain an average of 4 GCSEs at grades A*-C, while Turkish achieve just 1.9 on average, African Caribbean attain 1.6, and the working-class ethnic majority students attain 1.0.2

Unlike in Germany, the regional government in London does not have direct control of the school system and curriculum, and there is far more room for local education authorities and schools within the local area to develop rather different approaches to national, European and multicultural issues. At key stage 3 (ages 11-14) students study English, mathematics, science, art, music, citizenship, physical education, drama, technology, information technology, world studies (a combination of history, geography and religious education) as well as personal, social and health education and modern languages. Millroad School offers introductory language courses in French, Turkish, Spanish and German for its Year 7 students and encourages students to learn two languages, generally French and Turkish, from Year 8 onwards. The school has applied for Language College Status and is developing visits and links with other countries including France and Turkey. At key stage 4 (ages 15-16) all students have an individual study programme drawn from the following range of examination courses: English

language and literature, French, German, mathematics, science, Turkish, Spanish, technology, art, information systems, business, drama, media studies, geography, music, history and sociology. Religious education, information technology and physical education are compulsory for Year 10 and 11 students. Students are also offered vocational experiences, including the opportunity for work experience within the EU.