For the first time, children as young as five have been shown to understand issues regarding integration and separation. The research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), confirms that the ethnic composition of primary schools has a direct impact on children’s attitudes towards those in other ethnic groups and on their ability to get on with their peers.
The research was a year-long longitudinal study with three sets of interviews at approximately six monthly intervals at 20 schools in Sussex and Kent. Teachers also participated by completing questionnaires. In all, 398 children took part in the study, 218 of these children were from ethnic minorities of whom the majority were of Indian origin. The ethnic minority composition of the schools ranged between 2% and 63%.
Highlighting the challenges faced by immigrant children, the study also showed that those attending schools characterised by higher ethnic diversity experienced fewer peer problems an