Black pupils 'failing on purpose': Your stories

Published: October 21, 2011

Black schoolboys can choose to perform poorly to avoid undermining their masculinity, the head of the Jamaican Teachers’ Association has said.

Adolph Cameron said that in Jamaica, where homophobia was a big issue, school success was often seen as feminine or "gay".

Here BBC News website readers share their stories.

Erulu, London
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    Young black boys weren’t expected to achieve and were allowed to get away with misbehaving”

As a black boy born and raised in inner city London, my experience tells me that what stops academic achievement are bad role models, lack of high expectations and lack of parental support. All common ailments to all inner city children.

This is regardless of skin colour, of poverty, family breakdown leading to lack of purpose and discipline, underfunded schools and lack of opportunities to progress.

I grew up and went to school in Bermondsey. I am of Nigerian descent. It is a different cultural heritage, but I don’t think that was the real reason for under-achievement among my class mates.

By the time you get to 13 or 14 you are just one of the kids, one of the boys. That is where your influences come from.

Young black boys weren’t expected to achieve and were allowed to get away with misbehaving in class.

Homophobia was never ever an apparent issue. It is the negative, bad role models that young black boys see which has such a damaging effect and the low expectations that many have of them.

Jacqueline Sealey, Middlesex
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    It is about the kind of education I got where people are respected for who they are and their abilities”

As a black mother of Caribbean heritage, who has brought up three children in the UK, I am at a loss to know why there are no positive suggestions from Mr Cameron.

Such sweeping generalisations do excessive harm and damage to our young people. It also belittles those of us who have instilled the importance of a sense of achievement into our boys and young men.

My son is now a film maker for a UN agency dealing with the vexed issue of climate change, and is owner and director of his own film company.

Mind you, as his mother, I was the first black, and female, central government inspector for the Adult Learning Inspectorate – the tertiary equivalent of Ofsted.

It is about the kind of education I got where people are respected for who they are and their abilities, and are not undermined by preconceptions and stereotypes.

I walked into a secondary school of potentially failing black pupils, just before becoming an education inspector, to show the head teacher how to turn around this apparently perennial failure of black boys into something worth celebrating!

Of the 20 or more pupils with whom I worked over a period of four years – of all those whom I have met in recent years, nearly all have now got their first degrees; some their masters degrees; and a few have gone on the work at PhD level.

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