White pupils less likely to continue schooling post-16

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The Independent Online
WHITE teenagers from Britain's inner cities are less likely to stay on in education than their ethnic minority peers, according to research published today.

Researchers tracking the progress of more than 2,500 young people found that nine out of ten Chinese were at school or college after 16, compared with fewer than seven out of ten whites. Between eight and nine out of ten Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis were still in full-time education.

However, white teenagers were much more likely to have found full-time jobs than other groups, leading to speculation that black children were forced to return to school because of racial discrimination by employers.

The study is the second of three snapshots of the same group of young people who completed their compulsory education in 1993. The 16- and 17-year-olds from Leeds, Manchester, Merseyside, Birmingham and London were questioned by the Policy Studies Institute in October, February and June.

According to a report on the results of the February survey, there was strong evidence that the gender divide remained as wide as ever.

While boys were moving into traditionally female occupations such as clerical and administrative work, there was very little traffic in the other direction. Just 4 per cent of girls on Youth Training were in jobs such as construction, engineering and computing, but 17 per cent of boys were training in clerical work, caring or hairdressing.

Among those who had jobs, 17 out of 71 boys had gone into 'female' areas while just 8 out of 67 girls had gone into 'male' jobs, all of them working in stores or warehouses. None was involved in construction, engineering, motor mechanics or electronics.

At home, more than one in three boys said they never did any cleaning, cooking or shopping for food, while only one in seven girls said the same thing. Seven per cent of girls said they could neither work nor study because they had to look after children, and 6 per cent said their family would not let them. Almost half the girls who did not have a full-time job, training or college place said they spent their time looking after their home and family.

Pupils who stayed on to do A-levels appeared to become disillusioned quickly, the researchers said. When questioned in October 1993, most said they were happy with what they were doing, but by February this year almost half said they found their courses more difficult than they expected.

The school-leavers who had found full-time jobs were much more often happy with what they were doing than those who had stayed in education. Even among those who had gone into Youth Training there was a high level of job satisfaction, with four-fifths saying they were happy with what they were doing. Most of the young people looked to their parents for support, and had more harmonious family relationships than might be expected of teenagers.

Catherine Shaw, research fellow at the Policy Studies Institute and author of the report, said it was hard to tell whether ethnic minority pupils stayed at school because they wanted an education or because they could not get jobs. 'There is an element of white young people finding it easier to get employment. Whites are just as well-qualified at GCSE, and there is some evidence that minority parents place a greater value on education than the equivalent white parents,' she said.

Boys still seemed to have a wider range of options than girls, she added.

'Girls seem to be pushing right back into hairdressing and looking after children, which is rather worrying. I also wonder if males going into admin and clerical work will whizz on into management positions while the girls are left typing,' she said.


----------------------------------------------------------------- A B C D E ----------------------------------------------------------------- Black African 77 8 4 9 1 Black Caribbean 76 10 3 9 3 Black Other 72 13 2 9 4 Bangladeshi 85 5 1 5 5 Chinese 91 0 0 7 2 Indian 88 5 3 4 2 Pakistani 85 5 4 2 5 White 66 11 9 9 5 Other 81 7 6 3 3 Total 75 8 6 7 4 -----------------------------------------------------------------

A: Full-time education; B: Full-time training (YT); C: Full-time employed; D: Out of Work; E: Other