Ways to break barriers and raise achievement

30th May 2008 at 01:00
GENDER - From early years onwards, encourage pupils to question stereotypical assumptions about gender

GENDER

- From early years onwards, encourage pupils to question stereotypical assumptions about gender. Children will often welcome this, as gender plays such a large part in their lives.

- Male teachers can break down gender stereotypes by expressing interest in books and activities traditionally seen as feminine.

- Be aware that girls often police each other to conform. Make it clear that such behaviour will be considered bullying.

RACE

- Analyse your rewards systems. Research shows that black pupils are sometimes rewarded for sport and music, but not for academic subjects. Rewards may need to be given privately: some black pupils are reluctant to be seen as high achievers in case they are alienated in front of their peers.

- Explore ways to reduce exclusions, such as earlier intervention in bad behaviour. Black pupils tend to be excluded more than others, so tackling this area can have a significant impact.

- Celebrate diversity and promote a sense of belonging for all pupils.

CLASS

- Be aware of the lower language skills that can be a problem for children from poorer homes. Some academics have pointed to the more limited range of language registers of working-class children and their greater use of non-verbal communication techniques.

- Raise the aspirations of pupils by encouraging them to apply to the best universities. Research shows that secondary teachers can underestimate the likelihood of state school pupils winning places at Oxford and Cambridge.

- Bring in guest speakers from different professions to increase pupils' knowledge about career options and the level of education they need to persue them.

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