Rampton (1981)

1981 Rampton Report (text)

The Rampton Report (1981)
West Indian Children in our Schools

Interim report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Education of Children from Ethnic Minority Groups

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1981
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

Background notes

Historical context

In its 1977 report on The West Indian Community, the Commons Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration had highlighted widespread concerns about the poor performance of West Indian children in schools and had recommended that the government should institute a high level and independent inquiry into the causes of this underachievement.

As a result, in March 1979 Labour education secretary Shirley Williams established the Committee of Inquiry into the Education of Children from Ethnic Minority Groups. The committee was asked to:

  • review in relation to schools the educational needs and attainments of children from ethnic minority groups taking account, as necessary, of factors outside the formal education system relevant to school performance, including influences in early childhood and prospects for school leavers;
  • consider the potential value of instituting arrangements for keeping under review the educational performance of different ethnic minority groups, and what those arrangements might be;
  • consider the most effective use of resources for these purposes; and to make recommendations.
Anthony Rampton (1915-1993) (pictured) was a successful businessman and philanthropist, a gifted photographer and painter. At the time of the report he was chairman of Freemans Mail Order Company (established by his father) and treasurer of Lambeth Community Relations Council.

His task as chair of the committee was not an easy one, partly because there was little agreement nationally about why Afro-Caribbean children performed so badly in examinations and partly because the members of his multiracial committee had strong views. He persuaded them to avoid superficial explanations and political polemics, and they concluded that the main problems were low teacher expectations and racial prejudice among white teachers and society as a whole.

It was not a popular message. The media rubbished the report even before it was published, and Mark Carlisle, education secretary in Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government, sacked Rampton. He was said to have been deeply upset - not by his sacking but by the way inconvenient truths were being suppressed.

The Committee's final report, the Swann Report, published in 1985, broadly repeated Rampton's conclusions.

Rampton received no official recognition for his work but 'earned the abiding gratitude of millions of ordinary black and white men and women and a large number of educationalists' (The Independent 17 January 1994).

Summary of the report's main recommendations

  • local authorities should extend and improve provision for the under fives, making greater use of Section 11 funds and employing more West Indian staff;
  • LEAs and schools should look for ways in which parents can be more closely involved in helping their children learn to read, and teachers should be better trained to understand the language needs of West Indian children;
  • LEAs should define their policy on multicultural education and describe how it is put into effect in their schools;
  • HM Inspectorate should assess the extent to which schools are responding to the challenges of meeting the special needs of ethnic minority pupils;
  • heads should involve teachers from ethnic minority groups in curriculum development and establish staff working parties to consider their own school's response to multicultural education;
  • teachers should examine critically the textbooks and teaching materials they use and take account of their appropriateness to today's multicultural society;
  • public and school librarians should attempt to ensure their stocks represent in a balanced manner the range of cultures present in British society;
  • the DES, in its current consideration of the future framework of examinations, should take full account of the needs of children from ethnic minority groups and of the need for a multicultural approach throughout education;
  • GCE and CSE examining boards should undertake a systematic review of the relevance of their syllabuses to the needs of today's multiracial school population;
  • the DES should issue guidance on the maintenance of pupils' school records and on the accessibility of these to parents;
  • LEAs should ensure that in-service provision relates to the needs and backgrounds of ethnic minority pupils, including West Indians;
  • heads should set out clearly the role of all teachers in their school's pastoral arrangements and should designate a senior member of staff to be responsible for the co-ordination of links between the school and the community it serves;
  • LEAs should ensure that information is provided in a form which is accessible and easily understood by parents, particularly those from ethnic minority groups;
  • schools should encourage teachers to see home visiting as an integral part of their pastoral responsibilities;
  • schools should provide at least two full written reports each academic year on every pupil, and should ensure that a child's progress and prospects are clearly understood by his or her parents;
  • schools should encourage their PTAs to take an active interest in educational matters and should explore additional ways in which parents can be involved in the school's work;
  • LEAs should take steps to ensure that ethnic minority interests are fully taken into account in making appointments to the governing bodies of schools;
  • schools and LEAs should assist supplementary schools;
  • in identifying and assessing pupils with special educational needs, cultural differences and the effects of discrimination should be taken into account;
  • LEAs should recruit more West Indian educational psychologists;
  • the DES should, as a matter of urgency, implement its undertaking to collect statistics on the ethnic mix of all ESN(M) schools, and should institute regular monitoring on an ethnic basis of assessment and referrals of pupils as having special educational needs;
  • LEAs should ensure that the curriculum in ESN(M) schools, and for children about whom a formal statement is maintained, meets the children's educational needs and reflects the cultural diversity of our society;
  • the DES should issue guidance to LEAs designed to tighten up procedures when pupils are suspended or excluded from school;
  • LEAs should establish a clear procedure for the referral of pupils to disruptive units and ensure that parents are fully consulted at an early stage;
  • the DES and the Department of Employment should consider jointly the establishment of access courses for entry into training for the careers service;
  • training courses for careers officers should include reference to the particular needs of West Indian school leavers;
  • the DES, the Department of Employment and the Department of Health and Social Security should review the arrangements for the financial support of 16-19 year olds;
  • the Department of Employment should introduce a national system of vocational preparation 'traineeships' within each industry and should issue advice to LEAs on ways of involving West Indians lacking formal careers qualifications in the work of the careers service;
  • schools should review their existing arrangements for preparing pupils for the transition from school to work and should monitor on an ethnic basis the destination of their leavers;
  • the CBI and TUC should continue their efforts to bring about equality of opportunity for all ethnic minority groups in employment;
  • teacher training institutions should conduct a fundamental reappraisal of their policy towards multicultural education;
  • LEA induction programmes for probationary teachers should include guidance on the needs and backgrounds of all pupils in their area;
  • schools should provide probationers and new members of staff with information and advice on the needs of all pupils in the school;
  • LEAs should seek to recruit more West Indian teachers and professionals and to ensure equal opportunities for them at all levels in the education service;
  • all LEAs should designate an adviser to co-ordinate activities in the field of multicultural education;
  • with effect from 1 September 1982, schools should record the ethnic origin of children on entering school;
  • the DES should reincorporate the collection of information on the ethnic origin of all pupils in schools into its annual statistical exercise and should introduce ethnic classifications into its school leavers survey;
  • all teacher training institutions should collect, and the DES should publish, statistics on the ethnic origin of students training to be teachers;
  • the Home Office should undertake a review of the provisions and operation of Section 11 with a view to making it more appropriate to the needs of the ethnic minority communities;
  • local authorities should set up consultative procedures involving ethnic minority groups in their areas and no claim for Section 11 funding should be considered without an indication that it has been fully discussed with them;
  • local authorities should state their criteria for the appointment of staff under Section 11 and one of those criteria should be membership of, or experience of working with, the ethnic minority groups concerned.

The report online

The full text of the report (including the appendices) is presented in a single web page. There was no alphabetical index.

Many of the headings in this report were printed in the margin. I have incorporated these into the body of the text - in a handful of cases this has meant splitting a paragraph into two.

The unusual paragraph numbering (each chapter starts with paragraph 1) has been retained.

Anything added by way of explanation is shown [in square brackets].

The above notes were prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 2 March 2008; they were revised on 18 November 2012.