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This committee was established in March 1979 but the appointment of members was not completed before the general election.

The new government confirmed the establishment of the committee and appointed the remaining members. (4) The Committee's terms of reference relate to England only. Although we recognised that a great deal of discussion had already taken place about the apparent underachievement of West Indian children we felt that it was necessary for us to call for up to date evidence and to see whether the picture had changed since the Select Committee reported in 1977.

(The findings of the 1980 survey of the reading attainment of these children at 15 is discussed in detail in chapter two).

A study undertaken in Redbridge in 1978 (3) also showed considerable underachievement by West Indian children in reading in relation to their white peers. It was important for us in preparing this report to obtain some specific statistical data to establish the extent of the academic underachievement of West Indian children.

On the contrary we have learnt a great deal from our discussions with teachers and in our visits we have seen a lot of good and interesting work being done which we very much hope will be further encouraged by this report.

Many teachers we met welcomed the opportunity to talk to us and we were encouraged by the positive and helpful responses which we received from some of the teacher unions, most notably the National Union of Teachers (NUT) (1) and the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE). Throughout our work we have been conscious of a loss of trust and a wide gulf in understanding between too many West Indian parents and schools and we therefore hope, apart from those specific recommendations which we have made about the need for closer links between the home and the school, that by explaining the factors influencing the attitudes of parents and teachers, and their aspirations and concerns, we can go some way towards bringing them closer together. Equally important in our view is the broader context of the overall aims of education and the needs of all pupils in our schools today.

Since we had so much ground to cover we divided our work among six sub-committees. We followed up the information they supplied by visiting as many schools as possible, spending between half a day and three days in each school.

It is proposed that this review should be published separately in the next few months.(page numbers in brackets) Preliminary pages (i-v) Membership, Contents Preface, Introduction (1-5) Chapter 1 (6-10) Evidence of underachievement Chapter 2 (11-59) Factors contributing to underachievement Chapter 3 (60-69) Support for schools and teachers Chapter 4 (70-86) Programme for action Appendix A (87) Co-opted Members Appendix B (88-105) LEA booklet for parents Appendix C (106) NUT books checklist Appendix D (107-108) Pastoral organisation Appendix E (109) Suspension and exclusion Appendix F (110-112) Induction Programme Appendix G (113-115) In-service programme Appendix H (116-117) BEd (Multi-cultural studies) Appendix I (118-119) Sources of information and advice Interim report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Education of Children from Ethnic Minority Groups London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1981 Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland. In its report on 'The West Indian Community' (1) in 1977, the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration highlighted the widespread concern about the poor performance of West Indian children in schools.The Committee therefore recommended, amongst other measures, that 'as a matter of urgency the government (should) institute a high level and independent inquiry into the causes of the underachievement of children of West Indian origin in maintained schools and the remedial action required' (2). The government accepted the need for an inquiry but felt that it should be concerned with the needs of children from all ethnic minority groups with priority being given to children of West Indian origin (3).In order to obtain information on the qualifications of West Indian school leavers, we asked the Department of Education and Science (DES) Statistics Branch to include in their school leavers survey for 1978/79 for six LEAs a question on the ethnic origin of the leavers and the level of their achievement. In addition we felt that we should also talk and listen to those at the centre of our investigations - West Indian young people and their parents.We therefore arranged a series of open meetings in the evenings and at weekends in the areas which we were investigating. We are grateful to the LEAs, schools, and other institutions whom we visited for their help and cooperation with our work.[page 4] why their children had once again been singled out for particular attention, and cynicism about whether anything worthwhile would actually emerge from our work since their views had already been expressed on a number of occasions, notably to the Select Committee, and little action had resulted.


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