Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence

7.  Memorandum submitted by Ken Barnes, c-a-n-i Consultancy, and The 100 Black Men of London


  1.1  Ken Barnes has over 15 years experience in the field of mentoring & training and development. As the Principal Consultant of c-a-n-i, he works in a number of schools around London delivering life skills training to young people.

  1.2  c-a-n-i in-school programmes focus on developing emotional intelligence. With an emphasis on facilitating learning, we create programmes, products and services that inspire and motivate children to learn, grow and develop.

  1.3  Our programmes serve as an excellent compliment to the school curriculum providing the participants with an array of life skills that empower and assist them to navigate their way through life's challenges.

  1.4  Ken Barnes is also the President and Founder of the charity The 100 Black Men of London, an organisation of professional men who volunteer their time and money to invest in, empower and educate the youth in their respective communities.

  1.5  The organisation's core outputs are mentoring and education programmes aimed at boys and girls aged 10-16 years old.


  2.1  The overrepresentation that exists within the prison system can be attributed to a number of factors. This submission intends to focus on the issue of education or subsequent lack of effective education for African Caribbean students.

  2.2  I aim to present causal link between education and crime and the propensity of those who are excluded from education to commit crime, as a major contributory factor in the overrepresentation within the prison population.

  2.3  I will also state that a major catalyst for young Black boys being incarcerated through the court process is the negative perceptions and low expectation levels officials have of them.

  2.4  These two factors (perception & expectations) also play a major part in the underachievement of African-Caribbean students and the failure of the education system to effectively address the issue.

  2.5  I will conclude with a brief outline of the economic and social cost of crime to society, by the young people that have been excluded by the education system.


  3.1  "The issue of not enough African Caribbean students achieving their full potential within the education system is one that should concern us all whatever our ethnicity, as the negative effects of this underachievement do not discriminate against race or gender." Some of negative effects of this underachievement in education are low aspirations, no sense of purpose, low self esteem and the well documented casual link between education and crime.

  3.2  The great rallying cry of New Labour on entering office in 1997 was that they would be "tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime". Lack of adequate provision of educational strategies to raise the achievement levels of African Caribbean pupils is a crime in itself. The government is placing a sticking-plaster over the gaping wound of underachievement with regards to African Caribbean students.


  4.1  New research using a rarely used database points to a clear link between education and lower levels of youth offending. The study is based on the Offenders Index Data (OID), an administrative data source held in the Home Office, which dates back to 1963 and contains information on all individuals' court appearances and convictions for "standard list" offences (such as burglary) in England and Wales.

  4.2  Researchers (directed by Dr Leon Feinstein at the Institute of Education, a co-investigator on the project) analyzed the piloted introduction of Educational Maintenance Allowances (EMA) in 1999 to estimate the causal effects of changes in staying on at school rates on youth crime. (The EMA offered youths from low income families a weekly financial payment for up to two years, provided they stayed on in full-time education after compulsory schooling ends at 16).

  4.3  By combining OID and EMA data, researchers show that total crime, robbery and violent crime fell in areas where the EMA was introduced relative to those areas that did not participate in the education subsidy programme.

  4.4  This research highlights the importance of intervention programmes for young people, and demonstrates the high levels of potential social benefit that may flow from programmes that encourage greater immediate and future investment in education.


  5.1  Education is a potentially large influence on an individual's propensity to offend. There are a number of theoretical reasons why greater investment provision of education through preventative and remedial measures may have an effect on crime. Feinstein (2002) reports five potential channels where education can have an effect on individuals' criminal behaviour: income, parenting, pleasure, patience and risk aversion. Education also increases the cost associated with incarceration, since it increases the value of any time foregone (Lochner, 2004).

  5.2  Economists have long hypothesized that education may reduce the probability that an individual will engage in activities that generate negative externalities. Crime is one such negative externality with enormous social costs. If education reduces crime, then schooling will have social benefits that are not taken into account by individuals. In this case, the social return to education may exceed the private return. Given the large social costs of crime, even small reductions in crime associated with education could be economically important.


  6.1  In your press notice for this enquiry it stated that you will be "focusing particularly on public perceptions of criminality among young black people". It then went on to state that, "It is common in the media and elsewhere for a connection to be made between young black people and criminal behaviour. However, the evidence for this connection is contested."

  6.2  Even though you state that the evidence is contested, there is a prevailing perception in society that most African Caribbean students are likely to not only fail within the education system but also that they have a propensity to commit crime. This perception is engrained in the reality of many of the judges, officials and educators that come in contact with these boys.

  6.3  I believe the question of perception which leads to differential expectations is fundamental to the success or failure of African Caribbean students within the school system. When an individual holds negative perceptions of African Caribbean students invariably leads to lower expectations from them.

  6.4  An individual's ability to communicate low expectations has more power to limit a person's achievement than communicating high expectations has to raise their performance.

  6.5  Most schools would claim to hold high expectations for all their students. In reality, however, what is professed is not always practised. Although some schools and teachers maintain evenly high expectations for all students, others have "great expectations" for particular sections of the student population but minimal expectations for others.

  6.6  The expectations teachers have for their students and the assumptions they make about their potential have a tangible effect on student achievement. Research "clearly establishes that teacher expectations do play a significant role in determining how well and how much students learn" (Jerry Bamburg 1994).

  6.7  Students tend to internalize the beliefs teachers have about their ability. Generally, they rise or fall to the level of expectation of their teachers ... When teachers believe in students, students believe in themselves.

  6.8  Conversely, when students are viewed as lacking in ability or motivation and are not expected to make significant progress, they tend to adopt this perception of themselves. Regrettably, too many African Caribbean students discover or perceive that their teachers consider them incapable of handling demanding work. Teachers' expectations for students whether high or low can become a (SFP) self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, students tend to give to teachers as much or as little as teachers expect of them.

  6.9  What characteristics influence expectations? SFP research (Good, 1987) shows that teachers form expectations of and assign labels to people based upon such characteristics as body-build, gender, race, ethnicity, given name and/or surname, attractiveness, dialect, and socioeconomic level, among others. Once we label a person, it affects how we act and react toward that person. "With labels, we don't have to get to know the person. We can just assume what the person is like" (Oakes, 1996).

  6.10  The self-fulfilling prophecy works two ways. Not only do teachers form expectations of students, but students form expectations of teachers using the same characteristics described above (Hunsberger & Cavanagh, 1988).

  6.11  This perception of their teacher's expectations is reinforced to me on a regular basis in my interactions with many of the pupils I come in contact with. Too many of them believe that their teachers do not expect them to do well at school and according to the testimonies of many of the boys this message is often reinforced verbally to them.

  6.12  My work within the schools system delivering life skills training often raises this question "why is it that many of the young men in my sessions that have been labelled disruptive, rude and disrespectful display an awareness, maturity and understanding that contradicts the original profile given of them"? These young men seem confident, articulate and ready to learn.

  6.13  What creates the disparity between the young Black boy's attitude and behaviour in his lessons and my life skills mentoring sessions? I believe that ability is not the determining factor at play here; in my experience it has more to do with perception and expectation levels. From the moment I come in contact with my students I communicate high levels of expectations to my students, this I believe has had a positive effect on their attitude and overall mindset.

  6.14  My empirical findings on perception and expectations concur with a recent study, conducted under the direction of the Mayor's London Development Agency and an advisory board led by MP Diane Abbott, the focus groups reached a wide degree of agreement: "The consensus was that low teacher expectations played a major part in the underachievement of African Caribbean pupils."

  6.15  The issue of perception is one that not only affects a teacher's ability to teach a child but also a child's ability to learn from and be taught by a teacher.

  6.16  In October 2005 a poll by c-a-n-i of over 400 children aged 12-16 illustrates how a child's perception of their teachers may have an affect on their learning. It showed that even though the overwhelming majority of children considered a role model to be "someone who they admired and respected, someone who impacts your life in a positive way" but they did not consider their teachers to be role models.

  6.17  A child cannot learn effectively from someone whom they do not admire or even more importantly respect, as much as a teacher cannot teach effectively a child he/she does not respect.

  6.18  Could teacher perceptions and expectations attribute to young Black boys being excluded more than their white counterparts. I believe the answer is an overwhelming "YES".


  7.1  Exclusion is at times the easiest option when you consider the drain on resources in terms of human and financial capital a child perceived as being disruptive and unable or unwilling to learn is on an already stretched school.

  7.2  Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that in 2003-04 pupils from Black Caribbean, Other Black and Mixed White and Black Caribbean groups were among the most likely to be permanently excluded from schools in England.

  7.3  The permanent exclusion rates for pupils from the Other Black, Black Caribbean and Mixed White and Black Caribbean groups were 42 pupils per 10,000, 41 per 10,000 and 37 per 10,000 respectively. These were up to three times the rate for White pupils (14 pupils per 10,000).

  7.4  A MORI 2003 Youth Survey, Youth Justice Board conducted a survey of young people in mainstream school and excluded young people and found:

    —  60% of excluded young people say they have committed an offence in the last 12 months.

    —  Common offences committed by excluded offenders are: more likely to hurt someone but not leading to them needing medical attention (62%) and carrying a knife (62%).

    —  Violent crime has risen among mainstream and excluded young offenders. These offences such as assaulting or threatening others, continue to be more prevalent among excluded young offenders.

  7.5  A 2004 report entitled Fear and Fashion: The use of knives and other weapons by young people highlighted that:

    —  Excluded young people appear more likely to experience crime in the local area where they live and are more likely to carry weapons.

    —  46% of excluded young people had admitted having carried a weapon compared to just 16% of those in school.

  Young people who have been excluded have more of a propensity to commit crime and at times violent crime.


  8.1  The cost of such crimes to society can be high, according to a 2005 Home Office report The economic and social costs of crime against individuals and households 2003-04:

    —  Vehicle theft of vehicles £4.7K per incident.

    —  Burglaries an average of £2.3K.

    —  Violence against the person around £19K per incident.

  8.2  Overall the report estimates the cost of crime in England and Wales to be £60 billion. The youth court process takes four months on average, from arrest to sentence and the process costs are around £2,500 for each young person sentenced.

  8.3  The average cost to house a youth offender is around £30,000 per year. When you take these costs into consideration which excludes the emotional and mental costs incurred by the victims of crime from an excluded young person it can be very costly to society indeed.

  8.4  Calculating the social savings from the crime reduction associated with underachievement is crucial in the political motivation to make the correct investment of time, money and resources into the longstanding issue of the underachievement of African Caribbean students.


  9.1  I truly believe that if the issue of the perception and expectations within the education system is addressed, this action will have a positive ripple effect on the aspirations and academic achievements of African Caribbean students.

  9.2  This in turn would potentially have an affect on the number of African Caribbean students entering the criminal justice system. This would be a positive outcome for all concerned, especially when you consider that in a 2004 report by The Racial Justice Gap "Race and the Prison Population Briefing Smart Justice" it states that, "Black and Minority Ethnic groups are overrepresented at all stages of the criminal justice system from stop and search to custody, yet self-report studies show that there is little difference in offending rates between ethnic groups". Could perception and expectations contribute to this overrepresentation?

  9.3  I live by the philosophy of the three P's, "Perception, Perspective and Possibilities". As adults we tend to rarely challenge our perceptions of issues, we just take them as a given. This reluctance to see things in a different way from how we have always thought restricts our perspective on the issue, which in turn limits the potential opportunities that can be derived.

  9.4  Let's challenge our perceptions, change our perspective and open up a world of new possibilities for African Caribbean students and many of the stakeholders in educational and judicial life.


  10.1  To counter the many negative reports on why and how African Caribbean students fail in the school system, we recommend that research be carried out and published on the percentage of African Caribbean students that do succeed in school, like the Menelik Collymore, of Archbishop Tenison's School, in Kennington, South London, a three times gold winner of the UK Maths Challenge 2007.

  10.11  What are the factors that allow these students to grow and develop to their full potential within the school system?

  10.2  We recommend that all NQT's and existing teachers involved with BME students undergo training and development in the areas of communicating with BME groups and perceptions/expectations awareness training.

  10.3  To encourage greater long-term investment in education. We recommend a specially designed Role Model Intervention Programme involving a range of successful Black adults.

  10.31  The aim of this programme would be to expose and enlighten African Caribbean students starting from Key stage 2, right through to key stage 4 to the benefits and (ROI) return on investment formal education can bring.

August 2006


  Bamburg, Jerry. Raising Expectations To Improve Student Learning. Oak Brook, Illinois: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, 1994. 33 pages. ED 378 290.

  Feinstein, L. (2002) Quantitative Estimates of The Social Benefits of Learning, 1: Crime, Wider Benefits of Learning Research Report No 5, London: Institute of Education.

  Good, T.L. "Two Decades of Research on Teacher Expectations: Findings and Future Directions." Journal of Teacher Education 38 (1987): 32-47.

  Hunsberger, B., & Cavanagh, B. (1988). "Physical Attractiveness and Children's Expectations of Potential Teachers." Psychology in the Schools, 25(1), 70-74. EJ 368 520.

  Lochner, L. (2004) "Education, Work and Crime: A Human Capital Approach", International Economic Review, 45 (3): 811-843.

  Oakes, A. (1996, April 22). "Labeling Deprives You Of The Most Fulfilling Relationships." Daily Collegian, p 11.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2007
Prepared 15 June 2007