Insted - Tolerance, Equality, Difference

Tolerance, Equality, Difference

Raise project

The RAISE Project

The achievement of British Pakistani learners

Background and organisation | Themes and threads
Chapter-by-chapter summary of the handbook
Key recommendations | Publications and case studies

The RAISE handbook in full, updated 2005, PDF format

Background and organisation

The RAISE project was set up in 2002. It was funded by Yorkshire Forward and organised by the Uniting Britain Trust, in association with the Churches Regional Commission for Yorkshire and the Humber. It was managed and co-ordinated by the Insted consultancy.

The project was created because in many parts of England there is a substantial gap between national averages on school attainment and the attainment of pupils of Pakistani and Kashmiri heritage. The project aims to demonstrate through a series of case studies that the attainment of Pakistani and Kashmiri heritage pupils can be raised and describes the factors that underlie success.

The origins of the project lie in the work of the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia set up in 1996 by the Runnymede Trust.

The local authorities that have so far been involved in the project are Birmingham, Bradford, Calderdale, Derby, Kirklees, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester, Nottingham, Oldham, Redbridge, Rotherham, Sheffield, Slough and Walsall.

Most of the participating LEAs arranged for one or more case studies to be written about successful practice. All sent a representative to one or more national meetings. These included events in Leeds and also a meeting with officials at the DfES in London.

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A diverse community

Official statistics refer to people of Pakistani heritage in Britain as if they are all belong to a single community. In fact, it would be more accurate to speak of British Pakistanis as a community of communities, for there are many differences amongst them. They differ with regard to the areas in Britain where they live, the jobs they originally came to do, subsequent industrial history, their current employment and prospects, and the areas of Pakistan with which they most closely identify.

In London and the South East, some of the Pakistani communities are fairly prosperous and their educational achievement is on a par with, or higher than, national averages. In the West Midlands and North, the communities have been severely affected by changes in manufacturing industries over the last 25 years and by the consequent lack of employment chances. Here, educational achievement in Pakistani communities is much lower than regional and national averages.

A high proportion of Pakistani communities in the West Midlands and the North originated from Azad Kashmir in Pakistan. Being Kashmiri is an important part of their identity and history.

Nearly all British Pakistanis are Muslims. But as is the case with members of all religions they vary in their religious practice.


Young British Pakistani people are affected by many influences and pressures and are faced by many choices. They navigate their way amongst the influences of home, school and mosque. As they grow older they are affected, as are all young people, by peer culture and youth culture.

Further, their search for a sense of personal and cultural identity is influenced by events and trends in British society more generally, and by world events.

The complexity of identity for young British Pakistani people was well expressed a few years ago by someone giving evidence at a committee of inquiry in Bradford:

I could view myself as a member of the following communities, depending on the context and in no particular order: Black, Asian, Azad Kashmiri, Mirpuri, Jat, Marilail, Kungriwalay, Pakistani, English, British, Yorkshireman, Bradfordian, from Bradford Moor I could use the term community in any of these contexts and it would have meaning. Any attempt to define me only as one of these would be meaningless.


In British society, and indeed in all western societies, there is much anti-Muslim prejudice. Such prejudice has existed for centuries but in recent years it has become more explicit, more pervasive and more dangerous. It affects how young British Muslim people see themselves and their place in British society and may affect also their employment prospects and life chances.

The seriousness of Islamophobia in modern Britain was first brought to public attention by a report issued by the Runnymede Trust in 1997. A follow-up report in 2004 discussed the subject in greater depth and outlines the legislative, social and cultural changes in British society which still need to be made if British Muslims are to feel that they truly belong and that their contributions are genuinely welcomed.

Combating Islamophobia does not, of course, mean that all aspects of Islam are beyond criticism. All religious views, as also all non-religious views, need to be discussed and debated, and disagreements need to be aired. It is important, however, that disagreements should be respectful and informed. Schools have essential roles to play in promoting mutual respect and an atmosphere of openness and tolerance.


Statistics from the 2001 census show that Pakistani communities in England, particularly in the North and the West Midlands, are severely affected by poverty, unemployment and social exclusion, and that they are much less likely than the majority of the population to be employed in managerial and professional occupations. Figures collected by the DfES show that almost 40 per cent of Pakistani students in secondary schools are eligible for free school meals, compared with a national average of about 15 per cent.

It follows that statistics comparing the educational achievement of pupils of Pakistani heritage with national averages must be used with great caution, for in relation to the key variable of social class they do not compare like with like.

Many of the measures required to raise the achievement of pupils of Pakistani heritage are the same as those which are required to support all pupils in similar economic circumstances. However, there is also a need for measures that take explicit account of British Muslim identity, and the history, experience and perceptions of British Pakistani communities. A difference-blind approach is not sufficient.


Most pupils of Pakistani and Kashmiri heritage learn English as an additional language. When they start school they quickly acquire conversational skills in English. But their oral fluency may mask difficulties with formal, academic English. It is the latter academic English which is required for success in the National Curriculum.

The development of academic English should not be left to chance. On the contrary, focused attention needs to be paid from the earliest stages. The Talking Partners project, originally pioneered in Bradford, has been shown to be effective, as also the English in the Mainstream course developed in Australia. The DfES has recently published research on the kinds of specific support and assistance needed by bilingual students in secondary schools.

Several schools and local authorities have organised classroom-action-research projects which deal with topics such as key words and specialist vocabulary, genres, peer support and group work, error analysis, questioning, and individual tuition on common grammatical errors.

Working with madrasahs

Most pupils of Pakistani and Kashmiri heritage attend a madrasah each day after they have finished classes in their mainstream school. All too often, the two curricula are planned and taught independently of each other and there are sharp differences between the teaching styles that are used, and in the beliefs about learning and education on which the teaching styles are based.

Several schools and local authorities in recent years have explored ways in which mainstream education can work in closer partnership with education in the community sector and there is valuable experience on which to draw. Projects, meetings and publications should be created in order to disseminate successful experience more widely.


Headteachers and other senior staff have crucial roles to play in creating and sustaining the kind of overall school atmosphere in which British Pakistani pupils thrive: an atmosphere which is respectful of British Muslim identity and of the pressures and influences with which young British Pakistani people have to deal, and which has high expectations of all.

Clear leadership is required also in relation to specific projects, for example working closely with parents, and with imams, mosques and madrasahs; the content of citizenship and PSHE programmes; and attention to subject-specific academic language.

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Chapter-by-chapter summary of the handbook

Chapter 1: What I think of myself identities, communities and history
Chapter 1 begins by quoting from a conversation amongst four 14-year-old school students. The conversation is about how they see themselves and about the principal components of their identities, Asian, British, Muslim and Pakistani. The chapter then recalls the historical background how and why the grandparents of these four students came to Britain in the 1950s and 1960s, and the principal events and trends affecting the Pakistani community in Britain in the 70s, 80s and 90s. It stresses that Pakistani-British people are a community of communities, not a monolithic bloc, and that particular attention needs to be paid in the education system to those whose origins are in Azad Kashmir, and for whom being Kashmiri is an important part of their identity.

Chapter 2: If he doesnt look deeply at himself pressures and choices for the young
Young British Pakistanis and Kashmiris, like all other young British people, seek and shape their identities within a range of influences and pressures. Some of the influences are mutually compatible and they therefore reinforce each other. Others, however, conflict with each other and in consequence young people are pulled in opposite directions. There are recollections in this chapter about family life; the mosque and mosque-based education; new developments in Islamic theology and spirituality; street culture and youth culture; and currents of thought and influence loosely known as fundamentalism or political Islam.

Chapter 3: Life chances achievement and progress in the education system
All schools declare that their aim is to raise academic standards. With regard to the standards achieved by Pakistani and Kashmiri-heritage learners in English schools, there are four principal sources of statistical information: the Youth Cohort Study (YCS), the Pupil Annual School Census (PLASC), the Universities and Admissions Advisory Service UCAS), and monitoring and committee reports produced in individual local education authorities (LEAs). Information about participation in employment training and adult education is collected and published through the Labour Force Survey (LFS). All these sources of statistics show that Pakistani-heritage learners are achieving below national averages. At the same time, other statistics show that Pakistani-heritage families and households are disproportionately affected by poverty and social exclusion. For example, nearly 40 per cent of all Pakistani-heritage learners in secondary schools are affected by poverty, as measured by eligibility for free school meals, compared with a national average of fewer than 20 per cent. Chapter 3 reviews the evidence and the implications.

Chapter 4: Whats going on? interpreting and debating data
Chapter 4 continues the focus in the previous chapter on statistics. It describes how statistics about achievement in one particular local authority were analysed and interpreted. The authority in question generally has higher standards amongst its Pakistani-heritage learners than many other authorities and the chapter discusses why this might be so. But recently the GCSE results for such learners were disappointingly poor. The chapter considers why this may have happened and quotes the views of a range of Pakistani-heritage professionals. A recurring emphasis amongst the professionals was that Islamophobia has a significant impact on both teachers and learners. The chapter is based on a paper by Nicola Davies, an educational consultant who was until recently a teacher in Slough.

Chapter 5: Magic ingredients? the views and reflections of young people
Chapter 5 is similar to the previous chapter in that it is based on analysis of statistics and on enquiries with people deeply immersed in the realities to which the statistics refer. In this instance the people who were consulted were students in two secondary schools. Statistics had enabled a local authority to identify secondary schools which were bucking the trend in relation to the achievement of Pakistani-heritage learners. A researcher met with some of the high-achieving students themselves and obtained their own angle on the factors underlying their success. The chapter is based on a paper by Sameena Choudry, currently head of the Lincolnshire bilingual support service and until recently a teacher adviser in Sheffield.

Chapter 6: Not just sending letters home consulting and working with parents
There is substantial research evidence that the achievement of children and young people in school is related to the kinds of relationship that schools build and maintain with parents. Chapter 6 is based on work with parents in Kirklees, Nottingham and Redbridge and refers also to a publication developed in Oldham and Sandwell. It draws on reports by Jo Pilling and Shazia Azhar, who are members of the EMA service in Kirklees; Stuart Scott, working as a consultant in Nottingham, and Ann Spare, a teacher in Nottingham; and Jannis Abley and Samina Jaffar, members of the EMA service in Redbridge.

Chapter 7: Being a British Muslim linking with mosques, imams and madrasahs
Working closely with parents is essential, as outlined in the previous chapter. Chapter 7 discusses the essential importance of working in partnership with mosques and madrasahs, and of understanding Islamic concepts of education, knowledge and learning. In this context it describes a partnership between a cluster of schools in Leicester and four madrasahs and refers also to a mentoring scheme in Redbridge involving two local imams. It closes with advice to mainstream schools, LEAs and the complementary sector. It is based primarily on a paper by Maurice Irfan Coles, chief executive of the School Development Support Agency and previously a senior adviser in Birmingham.

Chapter 8: They cant just stand there preparing and training staff
Are there specific skills, strategies, insights and understandings that teachers need to have and to use in schools which have substantial numbers of Pakistani-heritage learners? If so, what are they? And how are they developed? These questions are particularly apposite and urgent when a schools student population changes quite suddenly, for example as a result of merging with another school. Chapter 8 describes how a secondary school in Rotherham set about preparing for a major change in its student population. It is based on a paper by Mary Sculthorpe, who is the EMA coordinator at Kimberworth School, Rotherham. At the time that the paper was written, Kimberworth was in the process of merging with Old Hall School.

Chapter 9: Cat have two mouses moving to formal English
For most British children of Pakistani and Kashmiri heritage, English is an additional language. When they start nursery or infant school they fairly quickly develop basic interpersonal communication skills in English, and soon appear to speak English as fluently as do children for whom English is the mother tongue. However, they do not as readily develop the kinds of formal, abstract language that is required, both orally and writing, for academic progress. Various kinds of focused intervention, therefore, are required. Chapter 9 describes two action research projects concerned with fostering academic English. The first took place in an inner-city infant school in Derby and used a programme first developed in Bradford. The second took place in a secondary school in Kirklees. The chapter draws on papers by Tania Sanders, who is an advisory teacher in Derby, and Chris Cagna and Monica Deb, who are members of the EMA service in Kirklees.

Chapter 10: Many views, one landscape developing the citizenship curriculum
What principles should underlie the citizenship curriculum, and what should be the core objectives and programmes of study, the content, the methodology? In what ways and under what circumstances may the citizenship curriculum lead to higher achievement for Pakistani-heritage learners? These are the questions discussed in chapter 10. The chapter describes how an enhanced citizenship curriculum is being developed in Bradford and draws also on projects in Birmingham and Oldham. It is based largely on a report by Joyce Miller, who is a member of Education Bradfords inspection and advisory service.

Chapter 11: Doing something right leadership, policy and ethos
If the tasks outlined in previous chapters are to be successfully implemented, the role of headteachers and other senior staff is clearly pivotal. Chapter 11 draws on interviews with senior staff in Sheffield; describes developments in schools in Leeds identified by the local authority as successful in raising the achievement of Pakistani-heritage learners; draws together threads and themes from all the previous chapters; and and proposes principles to guide further policy and action.

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Key recommendations

Explicit focus
1. At all levels national, regional, local, individual schools and curriculum areas there needs to be an explicit focus on the achievement and experiences of pupils of Pakistani and Kashmiri heritage.

Race equality policies
2. Policies, schemes and action plans created in accordance with the Race Relations (Amendment) Act should include recognition of British Muslim and British Pakistani identity and should refer to Islamophobia as a form of racism.

3. It should be recognised that there are many differences within the British Pakistani community and that a one size fits all approach will not be appropriate. It follows that national statistics about the achievement of pupils of Pakistani heritage are an inadequate basis for policy-making.

Madrasahs and mainstream
4. Mainstream schools should be proactive in establishing good working relationships with madrasahs attended by their pupils and in exploring ways in which the two sectors can inform, enrich and complement each other.

5. Local education authorities should provide assistance, advice and support to their schools on working with madrasahs and should consider setting up local forums to promote closer working relationships between the two sectors.

6. Teachers and management committees responsible for madrasahs should consider ways in which they can work more closely with the mainstream schools attended by their pupils.

7. Schools and LEA support services should pay closer attention to subject-specific English and to the kinds of formal, academic English required for success in the National Curriculum, and should arrange training for mainstream staff on this matter as well as for EAL specialists.

8. Citizenship and PSHE programmes should include reference to British Muslim and British Pakistani identity, and to the nature and consequences of Islamophobia.

Listening to pupils
9. Pupils and students of Pakistani and Kashmiri heritage should themselves be consulted about their perceptions, needs and expectations.

10. Training courses for headteachers and other senior staff should include a specific focus on raising the achievement of British Pakistani learners, and therefore on issues such as British Muslim identity; the need to work with mosques, imams and madrasahs; and the need for attention to subject-specific academic language.

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Publications and case studies

The principal publication from the project is a handbook entitled The Achievement of British Pakistani Learners: work in progress. It is published by Trentham Books and was launched in Leeds on 26 May 2004. The principal speaker at the launch occasion was Stephen Twigg MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools. The handbook was compiled and edited by Robin Richardson and Angela Wood, co-directors of the Insted consultancy, London, and draws extensively on the case studies provided by LEAs. Click here for a chapter-by-chapter summary and click here to read the book in PDF format.

A summarising leaflet has been created for use at meetings, conferences and training events. It outlines the projects themes and concerns and contains some statistics and quotations. Copies are available free of charge by sending an email message to

The following case studies are available as pdf documents on this website:

pdf BRADFORD: Community Cohesion
A project in ONE LEA to enhance the citizenship curriculum so that it addresses equality issues directly and enables pupils to explore their sense of identity and community. By Joyce Miller citizenship consultant, Education Bradford

pdf DERBY: Talking partners
A strategy to raise the achievement of Pakistani heritage pupils in an inner-city infant school. By Tania Sanders, Primary Achievement Coordinator for Derby City Access Service

pdf KIRKLEES (1): Seeking and responding
A project at Eastborough Junior, Infant and Nursery School, Kirklees: it sought accurate, sensitive and relevant information about the pupils familiesand acted upon it. By Shazia Azhar and Jo Pilling, Ethnic Minority Achievement team, Kirklees

pdf KIRKLEES (2) Access for all in mathematics and science
Three projects in secondary science and mathematics departments to examine the role of questioning by teachers; the importance of key words; and the potential of collaborative learning. By Monica Deb and Chris Cagna, Advisers for Ethnic Minority Achievement, Kirklees LEA

pdf LEICESTER: Madrasahs and mainstream
Models and experiences of partnerships between schools, an LEA and some local mosques. By Maurice Coles, Chief Executive of Leicester Citys School Development Support Agency (SDSA)

pdf NOTTINGHAM: Not just writing letters home
A project to improve interaction between a primary school and its local community. By Stuart Scott, educational consultant, Nottingham City

pdf REDBRIDGE: They will need time
Three initiatives to raise the achievement of Pakistani and Muslim pupils: developing LEA links with Muslim supplementary schools; a mentoring scheme in a secondary school involving local imams; and promoting Pakistani pupil achievement in the early years. By Jannis Abley, Samina Jaffar, Bill Gent, Redbridge Education Service.

pdf ROTHERHAM: The formation of a new school
The complex process of meeting the needs of Pakistani-heritage pupils, as two secondary schools merge. By Mary Sculthorpe, EAL coordinator, Rotherham

pdf SLOUGH: Views, voices and visibility
Reflections on the processes involved in realising the achievement of Muslim pupils of Pakistani and Kashmiri heritage. By Nicola Davies ,educational consultant, Slough

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