To what extent does a child’s cultural background impact achievement in school? To what extent does the culture a child surrounds him/herself with impact achievement? Research does indicate that some ethnic groups associate more with certain cultural aspects than others and that some contemporary international stars may be influencing them in a negative manner such as not valuing education for education’s sake.


Taking 5 or more GCSE passes as a benchmark:


Chinese pupils achieved 73% 5+ C to A’s


White pupils achieved – 64% 5+ C to A’s


Indian pupils achieved – 51% 5+ C to A’s


Bangladeshi pupils achieved – 45% 5+ C to A’s


Black African pupils achieved – 40% 5+ C to A’s


Pakistani pupils achieved – 40% 5+ C to A’s


Black Other pupils achieved – 37% 5+ C to A’s


Black Caribbean pupils achieved – 30% 5+ C to A’s


National Average for all pupils – 51% 5+ C to A’s


There is a school of thought that certain stars are effectively advertising that their education was a waste of time and that this is being taken up by those who follow their music. The two names in recent years most linked to this are Eminen and 50 Cents. The latter’s film ‘Get Rich or Die Trying’ placed an emphasis on success being achieved outside of the law and with education playing a minor and probably irrelevant role in his life as all the education he needed to succeed ‘comes from the street’. The basic message put forward was that success and the material possessions that come with it could be achieved by using your wits and being streetwise but without the need for an education. How influential such films are is difficult to assess and it is possible that their influence is merely temporary before a new star appears whose influence may be different. However, there are fears that to certain ethnic youth groups some stars are more influential than others.


One area that has concerned many has been the messages put across in certain genres of music that are popular with the young. Some lyrics are outright violent, others appear to be misogynistic, some appear to support or at least excuse violence against women. ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ was released by Prodigy. The band claim that the lyrics mean ‘doing something intensely’ but it is easy to see why they could be misinterpreted. With famous and popular groups writing songs with titles like this, sociologists are concerned that at least some may take the words literally. Rap star Rhyme Fest has condemned some violent lyrics. In 2007, David Cameron pledged to extend copyright on music to 70 years – in exchange for an effort by music bosses to curb violent music and imagery.


The Tory leader, now Prime Minister, told record industry chiefs in 2007 that they had a responsibility to help fix Britain’s “broken society”. He said censorship was not the answer – but neither was just investing in youth projects when it was the “content” of music that was often the problem. Music did not just “reflect” culture but also created it, he added. Mr Cameron was addressing the annual general meeting of music industry trade body the BPI in central London. Referring to a recent UNICEF report on childhood, Mr Cameron said the “single biggest challenge facing this country is that of the broken society”.


Courtesy of Lee Bryant, Director of Sixth Form, Anglo-European School, Ingatestone, Essex