Push from parents key to success

9th September 2005 at 01:00
Primary where bomber worked starts term in an upbeat mood. Helen Ward reports as a new study shows vital role played by teachers and parents of Muslim males

Schools play a key role in determining whether young Muslim men end up with high-achieving careers or on the streets, research reveals.

British Pakistani males aged 16 to 25 whose parents managed to get them into good schools had the best chance of success, the research showed. For others their faith or parental expectations could help them to succeed.

The research, part of a pound;1 million project funded by the Leverhulme programme, is based on interviews with 55 men.

The young men who did best all attended grammar schools in Slough, which has a selective system, or academically successful schools in Bradford.

The researchers also found a group of less academic Muslim men, who had been motivated by their religious belief to study for a degree, which would enable them to secure a well-paid job and provide for their family.

For other men, however, the start of secondary school was when they began hanging around on the streets and taking drugs.

Pakistani Muslim men tend to do either much better or worse than white pupils. They are much more likely to stay on at school after 16 than white children from similar backgrounds. But fewer Pakistani boys gain five good GCSEs than the national average.

The researchers found that the parents of all the young men, even those who had dropped out, had high hopes. Many working-class parents would pay for tutoring.

This contrasts with earlier studies of white working-class parents, which found they are much less ambitious for their children.

Dr Claire Dwyer, of University college, London, said: "All the young men were under parental pressure to be doctors or lawyers, which was often far above their capabilities."

The report found that the young men who left school with few or no GCSEs faced a great deal of pressure from parents to make something of their lives.

But although they accepted they would need to support a family in future, they did not agree with their parents and teachers that education was the key to success.

Educational achievement and career choices for young British Pakistani Muslim men - negotiating gender identities, Claire Dwyer and Bindi Shah, UCL, and Tariq Modood, Gurchathen Sanghera and Suruchi Thapar-Bjorkert, Bristol university

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