Chinese perform better in English than white children

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The Independent Online

Chinese children in British schools are outperforming every other ethnic minority group in tests and exams - including the English at English.

The most detailed breakdown of ethnic and gender performance in national curriculum tests for seven, 11 and 14-year-olds shows that Chinese pupils do best in every subject at every age.

The statistics also show the Government is making little headway in its campaign to improve the performance of boys - as girls surpass them at every age and in every subject except maths for 11-year-olds.

But it is the performance of Chinese pupils that shines out from the report as they outperformed all other ethnic groups at GCSE - with 74.6 per cent of pupils getting at least five top grade A* to C GCSE passes compared with a national average of 50.7 per cent.

Chinese and Indian pupils outperformed white British children in English tests for 11-year-olds. In all, 83 per cent of Chinese students reached the required standard compared with 78 per cent of Indian pupils and 75 per cent of white UK pupils. The worst performing ethnic group in these tests were Bangladeshi children, with only 65 per cent reaching level four, the standard that an 11-year-old should achieve.

While the overall results show the performance of every ethnic group at GCSE is improving, they do highlight some worrying trends for white British pupils. David Miliband, the minister for School Standards, said the results showed that - while standards in secondary schools were rising - there was "a striking gender gap between boys and girls".

He added: "The raw facts are quite striking - 58.2 per cent of girls achieved five A* to C grade passes at GCSE in 2003 compared with just 49.9 per cent of boys, and white working-class boys are one of the lowest performing groups at 14.

"The reasons are deep-seated. They are cultural as well as educational. But we know the gap can be narrowed." He is backing a plan to persuade schools to drop study leave before GCSEs and replace it with structured revision in school.

"Schools spend 11 years carefully nurturing pupils, yet in the weeks leading up to GCSE unsupervised study leave at home in many areas has become the norm. Just when pupils might benefit most from structured support and encouragement, they are left to their own devices." According to researchers, while girls study on their own, too many boys opted to watch television or videos instead. Mr Miliband cited Kemnal Technology College, a boys' only school in south London, where the percentage of boys getting five top-grade passes rose by between 5 and 10 per cent after study leave was cancelled.

The figures, compiled by the Department for Education and Skills, also show the performance of white UK pupils at GCSE is improving at a lower rate than for any other ethnic group. The percentage of white children getting five top-grade passes has only gone up by 1.8 percentage points to 51.3 per cent compared with a 4.7 percentage point rise to 74.8 per cent for the Chinese; 3.7 percentage points to 32.9 per cent for black Caribbean pupils; 3.3 percentage points to 40.7 per cent for black Africans, 3 percentage points to 41.5 per cent for Pakistanis; 2.6 percentage points to 65.2 per cent for Indians and 2.2 percentage points to 45.5 per cent for Bangladeshis.

One of the reasons, researchers suggest, could be the launch of the "aim higher" package last year. It included providing schools with extra resources to allow a senior manager to work on raising black achievement.