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The Social Mobility Commission (SMC), an independent statutory body charged with monitoring progress towards improving social mobility in the UK, and for promoting social mobility in England, has recently published (28 December 2016) its report, ‘Ethnicity, Gender and Social Mobility’, with the aim of informing ‘the understanding of intersectionality between ethnicity, gender and SES [socio-economic status] and further the debate by providing new insights and conclusions’.

Highlights and recommendations include:

  • A broken mobility promise for Asian Muslims, particularly women. Young people from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds are more likely than ever to succeed in education and go on to university, girls even more so than boys. Yet these outcomes are not yet being translated into labour market returns – with unemployment particularly prevalent amongst Bangladeshi women, and both Pakistani men and women are relatively unlikely to secure managerial or professional occupations.
  • In general non-white ethnic groups are disproportionately likely to be disadvantaged; whereas slightly more than 1 in 10 White British pupils are eligible for FSM [Free School Meal] at Key Stage 4, this is around 1 in 4 for Black and Pakistani/Bangladeshi ethnic groups.
  • . . . boys in families where mothers are young or lacking in qualifications achieve lower outcomes compared to girls in similar circumstances. The authors suggest this is because boys’ learning is more sensitive to factors such as parents’ mental wellbeing and time spent reading to the child . . .
  • What happens outside of the home in the early years plays a key role in determining young people’s life chances . . . different ethnic groups access quality pre-school at different rates and this may explain differing outcomes in the early years, especially for the Bangladeshi, Black African and Pakistani groups that access pre-school at the lowest rates (Daycare Trust 2012) and who therefore start school with an additional disadvantage.

 

  • There is also evidence that ethnic segregation in schools (where pupils from ethnic minorities are clustered in a small number of schools in an area rather than being spread equally across all schools in that area) may lower attainment for many minority ethnic groups, especially at Key Stage 2

 

  • British Bangladeshi and Pakistani women earn less than their counterparts from other ethnic minority groups.

 

  • Some Muslim groups, in particular Indian and Bangladeshi Muslim men, are able to realise greater returns on their qualifications than Pakistani men, while Bangladeshi women with a level 1-3 qualification have higher chances of achieving a managerial or professional role compared to Pakistani women. Among Muslim groups, the lowest returns on educational qualifications are achieved by Muslim Black Africans, and women in particular.

 

  • Young people encounter barriers to social mobility at each stage of education, from the early years through to Higher Education and then as they transition into the labour market. These barriers are brought about by a combination of their SES, gender and ethnicity. Challenges can be more pronounced for some groups at some stages than others, for example, some groups of ethnic minority girls do very well throughout their education but encounter hurdles as they leave university or school and enter the workplace . . .

 

  • Schools, universities and employers should provide carefully targeted support to ensure Muslim women are able to achieve their career ambitions and progress in the workplace.

click here.

 

Ethnicity, Gender and Social Mobility' Book Cover Ethnicity, Gender and Social Mobility'
Bart Shaw, Loic Menzies, Eleanor Bernardes and Sam Baars (LKMco); Philip Nye and Rebecca Allen (Education Datalab)
Socia Mobility and Child Poverty Commission
28 December 2016
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