`You got a pass, so what more do you want?': race, class and gender intersections in the educational experiences of the Black middle class

Gillborn, David; Rollock, Nicola; Vincent, Carol and Ball, Stephen. 2012. `You got a pass, so what more do you want?': race, class and gender intersections in the educational experiences of the Black middle class. Race Ethnicity and Education, 15(1), pp. 121-139. ISSN 1361-3324 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The article discusses the findings of an ESRC funded project (RES-062-23-1880) which used in-depth interviews to explore the educational experiences and strategies of 62 Black Caribbean parents; the biggest qualitative study of education and the Black middle class yet conducted in the UK. The article focuses on the parents’ interactions with their children’s teachers and, in particular, their experience that teachers tend to have systematically lower academic expectations for Black children (alongside a regime of heightened disciplinary scrutiny and criticism) regardless of the students’ social class background. The parents’ accounts highlight the significance of a cumulative process where a series of low level misdemeanours sometimes build into a pattern of seemingly incessant and unfair criticism that can have an enormously damaging impact on their children. Although our data suggest that these processes can involve children of both sexes and of any age, the parents report a particular concern for Black young men, whom they perceive to be especially at risk. Our findings demonstrate the continued significance of race inequality and illuminate the intersectional relationship between race and social class inequalities in education. This is particularly important at a time when English education policy assumes that social class is the overwhelming driver of achievement and where race inequity has virtually disappeared from the policy agenda. Our findings reveal that despite their material and cultural capital, many middle-class Black Caribbean parents find their high expectations and support for education thwarted by racist stereotyping and exclusion.

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Identification Number (DOI):



teacher expectations, racism, social class, gender, intersectionality, parents

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies


4 January 2012Published

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Date Deposited:

16 Jul 2018 10:00

Last Modified:

16 Jul 2018 10:00

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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