More Offensive Statements Found In GCSE Textbook Pulled From Shelves Amid Charges Of Racism

Nadine White

A GCSE sociology textbook that was pulled from sale following a HuffPost UK report contains a number of offensive statements about minority groups, it has emerged. 

Hodder Education stopped sales of the AQA GCSE (9-1) Sociology textbook last week, after concerns were raised that it reinforced negative stereotypes.

The book, originally approved by the national exam board, caused controversy when it was revealed that it contained claims that Caribbean fathers are “largely absent” and said children in those communities are passed between relatives. 

Campaigners described it as “racist and divisive”.

HuffPost UK has since obtained a copy of the textbook and found other statements within it concerning ethnic minority families and working class children.

One passage reads: “The typical Chinese family is a strongly patriarchal (male-dominated) arrangement based in the three rules of obedience: a daughter obeys her father, a married woman obeys her husband, a widow obeys her son.”

“In Sub-Saharan Africa, individuals belong to a wide kinship network rather than a single family unit,” it continues. “If a wife does not have children then she can be replaced and the husband can take another wife.”

The sociology book, which is used to teach children aged between 14-16, does not refer to a specific country within Sub-Saharan Africa. There are 46 countries within the region which contains a total of over 1,000 languages and a wide range of various cultural norms and values. 

The GCSE sociology textbook, published by Hodder Education, that contains a number of offensive statements about minority groups 

Further down, the authors assert that the value given to education is linked to ethnicity. 

“Different ethnic groups place different levels of importance on education. Some groups, such as Indian and Chinese, see education as important and encourage children to work hard, whereas, other ethnic groups may not show the same commitment to education,” it says.

A spokesperson for Hodder confirmed that this entire page had been rewritten ahead of the release of a brand new edition.

“All the copy and statements on p.94 of the book have been completely rewritten,” they told HuffPost.

“These are currently awaiting approval from [exam board] AQA. The page will then be incorporated into a reprint of the textbook with the original page removed.

“We are also making available an eTextbook version of the book to any purchasing centre that requests a copy. This should be available within a few days of the text being approved.

“We have reviewed the remainder of the text and will be discussing with the authors any improvements that can be made in a future revised edition.”

The book links education is to ethnicity, and claims 'different ethnic groups place different levels of importance on education'.

Elsewhere in the book, the authors state that “working-class children often lack the appropriate attitudes, norms and values that are necessary to succeed in education.”

A study by the Sutton Trust education charity does highlight white working class underachievement; in this socio-economic group a quarter of boys (24%) and a third of girls (32%) achieve the benchmark of five good (A*-C) GCSEs.

Rather than this being down to attitudes, norms and values, however, the study’s authors point to the wide-ranging effects of poverty and absence of targeted support.

None of the above statistics or surrounding causes were referenced in the GCSE textbook to contextualise the statement.

The book also has a passage about children who speak English as a second language, stating that they are likely to underachieve.

“For many children, English is not their first language. This place them at an immediate disadvantage because all their lessons in school will be in English,” it reads.

“Many parents of minority ethnic students may not speak English and, therefore, may be unable to help and support their children with homework. This lack of English has been linked to poor education achievements.

“Lack of English also makes it more difficult to follow the process in applying school places. Some ethnic minority groups may not be able to access information about schools that is made available and will find it difficult to ensure their children attend the best school possible.” 

In a report published in February 2018, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) argued that statistics on the performance of students with English as an additional language are plagued by missing or misleading prior attainment records.

It said “better official statistics” are required to prevent the “urgent needs of some sub-groups” being missed.

'Working-class children often lack the appropriate attitudes, norms and values that are necessary to succeed in education.” GCSE textbook

Performance statistics released by the Department for Education earlier this year actually show GCSE pupils with English as an additional language (known as EAL) outperformed native speakers on all DfE measures in 2017.

And a 2016 data analysis by the EPI showed that EAL pupils had an identical Attainment 8 score to the national average and made higher-than-average progress during school.

Fran Nangtongwe, a sociology teacher at Reepham High School & College in Norfolk, told HuffPost UK: “I was angry and frustrated when I saw the paragraph about pupils in the UK who have English as an additional language.

“I teach sociology in a rural community with little ethnic diversity. The textbook should be supporting my pupils as they learn about the achievements of different communities and cultures within the UK; but some sections of this textbook just reinforce negative misconceptions and prejudices.”

Omar Khan, director of the race equality think tank Runnymede Trust, said: “Not only might the text cause black and asian children to wonder at how their parents are described – it also reproduces among white children prejudicial, uninformed views about black families.

“What this shows is the weakness of looking at people’s attitudes and what they respond to in a survey. We have Britain’s children – white and black - being spoon-fed or brainwashed with false information about families that help to reproduce the racial inequalities that we see today.”

“This textbook highlights how institutional racism extends from criminal justice to education, as an example of how, as the institute of race relations defines it, policies, procedures, operations and culture of public or private institutions reinforce individual prejudice and being reinforced by them in turn,” he added.

“This isn’t just about people being upset; there are real consequences. This may have been in our textbooks in the 1960s but if global Britain is to become anything other than ‘Empire 2.0’, then we need to make sure that all children are informed of the facts and aren’t misinformed in a way that harms them, sustaining racial inequalities into the next generation.” 

Labour's Dawn Butler slammed the book being published showed was a 'clear example of everyday and institutional racism'

Dawn Butler MP, Shadow Secretary for Women and Equalities said it was “completely unacceptable” that the book was ever approved to enter the curriculum.

“To have the very institution that is supposed to empower students be complicit in these lazy and harmful stereotypes is dangerous and deeply offensive,” she added.

“The fact that this book could be published is a clear example of the everyday and institutional racism that ethnic minorities still face and the persisting racial inequality still felt across UK society.”

HuffPost UK contacted AQA for information about its auditing process as regards to approving books by third party publishers.

A spokesperson said: “Our approval process has never been intended as an endorsement of all the content in a textbook. It’s more about things like making sure the structure of a textbook matches the structure of our syllabus, rather than looking at all the language used.”

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