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Black pupils helped to reach much higher

Schools are to be given specific guidance for teaching African-Caribbean pupils as part of a new government drive to raise results of ethnic-minority students.

The Department for Education and Skills is due to unveil details of its Aiming High strategy, which aims to close achievement gaps between ethnic groups.

It believes special guidance is needed for teaching African-Caribbean pupils because their results tend to fall below those of other groups.

Last year only 30 per cent of these students gained five A*-C grades at GCSE compared to 51 per cent of white and 73 per cent of Chinese pupils.

Officials stress, though, that the guidance, which has yet to be finalised, may help with teaching children from other ethnic groups.

The Aiming High strategy is also expected to contain plans for a national framework to improve teaching for pupils with English as an additional language.

Other plans include:

* recruiting more ethnic-minority teachers;

* making special training available for all school staff and governors;

* reducing exclusions of ethnic-minority pupils;

* more effective use of ethnic minority achievement grant funding.

More than 500 individuals and organisations responded to consultation on the strategy which was launched in March. The DfES said responses were generally highly supportive.

The guidance was welcomed by the National Union of Teachers, which said it was a more joined-up approach to tackling underachievement by ethnic groups than previous initiatives.

However, John Bangs, the union's head of education, said the strategy would fail if headteachers left it to gather dust.

Dr Tony Sewell, an expert on race issues and board member of the Hackney Learning Trust, was even more critical, saying the strategy would have little impact on schools.

"I'm very disappointed because the two most important areas seem to be missing - improving the involvement of black parents and giving children the right support so that they can succeed for themselves.

"We've focused on these issues with African-Caribbean pupils in Hackney and results are improving already."

Aiming High is due to be published on www.dfes.gov.uk

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