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Summary and scope of briefing

This briefing looks at educational outcomes for Black school pupils at GCSE level, and progress into higher education and into the workplace. It focuses on pupils and students in England.

Most of the data discussed in this briefing is published by the Department for Education (DfE), the Office for Students (OfS) and the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Some of the analysis is for major ethnic groups, and some for minor ethnic groups. Major ethnic groups are broad categories such as Black, White, Mixed, Asian and Other. In the DfE data, the Black major ethnic group includes the ‘Black African’, ‘Black Caribbean’, and ‘any other Black background’ minor ethnic groups.

GCSE outcomes

At GCSE level, in 2022 to 2023 young people from the Black major ethnic group on average had a similar combined English and maths pass rate to those in the Mixed, Other, and White major ethnic groups. This is a change from pre-pandemic, when the pass rate for pupils from the Black major ethnic group was the lowest of any major ethnic group. GCSE data for 2022-23 referenced in this briefing is provisional and subject to later updating by the DfE.

Black African pupils generally fare better than Black Caribbean pupils, and Black pupils eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) also attain better on some key GCSE measures than pupils than the national average for FSM-eligible pupils.

Higher education

In England, young people from the Black major ethnic group are more likely to go on to higher education than average, but less likely to obtain high grades, enter ‘prestigious’ universities, end up in a highly-skilled job, study further or have career satisfaction.

There are marked differences in higher education entry rates between people from different Black ethnic groups, and between men and women, although available data isn’t always further broken down by socio-economic status.

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