Policy and practice in multicultural and anti-racist education : A case study of a multi-ethnic comprehensive school

Foster, Peter Morris (1989). Policy and practice in multicultural and anti-racist education : A case study of a multi-ethnic comprehensive school. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000d37b


This research follows work conducted by the Education team at the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations at the University of Warwick into the development and implementation of Local Education Authority (L. E. A. ) policies on Multicutural and Anti-Racist Education. It consists of a detailed ethnographic case study of a multi-ethnic, inner-city comprehensive school which espoused a commitment to Multicultural and Anti- Racist Education, and concentrates on the school's efforts to put this commitment into practice.

Initially the study provides an elaboration of the values underpinning Multicultural and Anti-Racist Education, most notably equal opportunities and education for a non-racist society, and a discussion of the implication of these values for school practice. This discussion provides a model with which the practices in the case study school are compared. A number of theoretical questions concerning the extent to which within-school processes contribute to reproduction of the social characteristics of modern society are also introduced. A detailed decription of the social context, structure and organisation of the school is presented and then the study facusses on the development of L. E. A. and school policies on Multicultural and Anti-Racist Education, teachers' interpretations of and responses to these policies, and the practice of Multicultural and Anti- Racist Education in the school, The study also examines the processes of differentiation and how they affected ethnic minority students. Finally it examines the strategies which many teachers adopted in order to 'survive' as teachers in what was a 'difficult' inner city school and the implications of these strategies for the educational opportunities available to the students who attended the school.

The overall argument presented is that the teachers in the school had gone a considerable way towards developing Multicultural and Anti-Racist Education especially in curriculum terms, and had succeeded in creating a non-racist environment within the school. The study found that there were few practices which restricted the chances of educational success of ethnic minority students within the school. However, teachers were forced to adopt 'survival strategies' in order to cope in the classroom and school with students who were sometimes hostile and frequently indifferent to their schooling, and thus the quality of educational provision offered to the students was reduced. Such student attitudes, it is suggested, were derived from wider youth, class and ethnic sub-cultures generated outside the school in part by the structural features of contemporary society. The study concludes with a discussion of the implications of the research findings for school and L. E. A. policies on Multicultural and Anti- Racist Education and makes suggestions for further research.

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