A study of the educational experiences of African Caribbeans in the UK
There has been forty years of research on African Caribbean underachievement yet African Caribbeans continue to have below average performance. This is evidenced in disproportionately high exclusion rates and poor exam results (Gillborn and Gipps, 1996). This study aimed to investigate the educational experiences of African Caribbeans in the UK. Its focus was the factors that contribute to African Caribbean academic success, but it additionally explored low achievement and the experience of exclusion. Questionnaires and interviews were used to collect data. Seventy-eight questionnaires were analysed and thirty-two respondents aged 16 to 40+ years were interviewed. Respondents were placed into five achievement groups based on their performance at school. A Success group with 5 GCSE A*-C grades gained at the end of secondary school, a Retake group who achieved five passes after leaving school, a Vocational group, a Low Achievement group and a School Underachiever Life Achievers (SULA) group. The results revealed that all Black children have negative experiences at school in varying degrees. What differentiates those who succeed and those who do not is the level of resilience and protective factors that they have developed. The Success group had more positive support from a wider range of sources across their experiences at home and within the community which instilled a resilience or resistance to negative experiences. The Low Achievement group, which had less support, and more negative experiences at home and in the community were more susceptible and vulnerable to the impact of negative school experiences. There were disproportionately higher exclusion figures for the sample than the national average. This thesis provides a framework for conceptualising and understanding African Caribbeans’ educational experiences and offers guidance to parents, community leaders, educators and policy makers as they work towards improving achievement levels and reducing exclusions amongst African Caribbeans in the UK.