Is there really an attainment gap in education?

‘The BME attainment gap is a long-standing concern across the Higher Education sector.’  ‘There are also concerns that there is an increasing attainment gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged children and young people, including those with SEND, at all stages of education.’

These are the headlines that often get quoted in our staff meetings across all levels of educational meetings. We are given guidelines as to how our curriculum and teaching methods must be inclusive and aimed at reducing these ‘attainment gaps’ across some portions of the student population.  An article in WOKHE reports that ‘white students graduating in 2017-18 were 13 per cent more likely to achieve a first or 2:1 degree than those from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds.’ In Dec 2020 published data from the government summarises that ‘White graduates were over twice as likely as Black graduates to get a first-class degree. Black graduates were the least likely out of all ethnic groups to get a first-class degree (14.5%)’

I was once accosted by a data manager at my educational setting for not introducing any initiatives or novel approaches to reducing the gap. He was adamant that I must do something. I then pointed out that my classes do not have any ‘gaps’ in fact many of the top students who achieve excellent results ARE from what they labelled as ‘BAME’ or ‘disadvantaged’ groups. In fact, the BAME students were in the majority.

You see, I had already applied the SEJ process when I realised that any groupings or making predetermined notions about a set of students was limiting for them and for me. This is not about ‘not discriminating’ it’s about seeing them as individuals, it’s above and beyond any notion of discrimination.  The SEJ dissolves any limiting thoughts about WHAT they are in their physical appearances or academic achievement.

The SEJ allows me to see them (and myself) clearly and truthfully beyond the set of boxes society has placed upon us. The results they receive are their own responsibility, the results of their own work. I merely guide them to find their own truth and their own path.

In my experience since the SEJ has come into my life, there are no ‘gaps’, it is filled with limitless, boundless potential; these young people prove time and time again this truth. They are a brilliant inspiring group of people that I have had the privilege to share a few years of their lives, and I am grateful that I would not have done that without first applying the SEJ process so that we all reach our full potential in every moment.

Dr M Howard-Kishi

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