GCSE boost for Bangladeshi pupils

16th January 1998 at 00:00
Bangladeshi pupils with fluent English left school this year with more GCSEs - and more at high grades - than the national average.

Researchers in London's Tower Hamlets, which has the country's highest Bangladeshi population, say that the average scores for Bangladeshi pupils have doubled since 1990.

This year 27 per cent got five A-C GCSEs, compared with just under 19 per cent of English pupils across the borough. The national average is 45 per cent. Meanwhile, 58 per cent of fully-fluent Bangladeshi pupils got five high-grade GCSEs.

John Sinnott, head of Tower Hamlets' policy, research and statistics division, said: "When pupils are fluent in English, they perform above national levels. Those who aren't bring down the averages and create this myth that Bangladeshi pupils are low performers. Since the early 1990s we have started to see a dramatic turnaround. The Bangladeshi pupils start out behind, but catch up very quickly."

Last year in Tower Hamlets 30 per cent of Bangladeshi girls and 25 per cent of boys achieved five high grades at GCSE, compared with 21 per cent and 18 per cent of white girls and boys respectively. The performance of Bangladeshi boys outstripped white girls.

At Mulberry school for girls, 40 per cent of the mostly Bangladeshi sixth-formers went on to university this year. Head Marlene Robottom says: "Our girls see education as currency to a future and a career."

One in seven Tower Hamlets teachers is employed through Section 11 funding - cash to provide help for children who speak English as a second language. Mr Sinnott says: "Without the extra funding support, we wouldn't be looking at this success story."

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