Social segregation rife in UK schools, says OECD

14th September 2012 at 01:00
Immigrants are educationally disadvantaged, report finds

The UK has one of the most socially segregated school systems in the developed world, figures released this week show.

According to data released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 80 per cent of UK children with an immigrant background attend schools with a high concentration of other immigrant pupils - a proportion greater than Italy, Argentina and even the US. The statistics also show that these pupils are more likely to attend disadvantaged schools.

Just four out of more than 30 nations have a poorer social mix in their schools, including some of the most socially segregated countries in the world, such as Brazil and Mexico, the study shows.

The figures were published in the OECD's annual report, Education at a Glance, which said the socio-economic make-up of UK schools is one of the biggest challenges the country faces when it comes to improving the chances of the most disadvantaged pupils.

Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's deputy director for education, who led the study, said the figures are particularly concerning because the collective social background of a school has a major impact on its educational outcomes.

"What is really striking about the UK is that immigrant children with highly educated mothers are still more likely to end up in schools with high disadvantage," he said. "In no other country is that proportion higher than in the UK."

However, in the same study, figures showed that the UK is among the best when it comes to social mobility. Mr Schleicher put this down to the UK being one of the best countries in the world at offering people from poorer backgrounds a "second chance".

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