Education, Education, Education
January saw the annual release of the school league tables which were a cause for celebration for all those in the London Borough of Sutton. With the area long being renowned for its exceptional schools, 2015 showed no signs of slowing down, with the results, released by the Department for Education, making Sutton the fourth highest performing area in the country based on GCSE results.
For many years now, Sutton's schools, both selective and comprehensive, have been some of the borough's crowning achievements, providing the otherwise nondescript and unassuming outer London borough a small taste of the national spotlight.
As many already know, boasting high performing schools can have many positive effects for an area, they boost local property prices, can act as a lynchpin for the community and most importantly, ensure that children and young people in an area are receiving a first rate education and are well equipped to thrive for the future. One aspect of Sutton's schools that is largely overlooked, however, is the effect they have had on the borough's BME community.
While statistics on the proportion of BME pupils that populate Sutton's schools are hard to come by, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. A brief conversation with many of Sutton's BME residents about their motivations for moving here are likely to reveal that the area's excellent schools played a key factor in their decision, something I know from personal experience, as it was the factor that played a decisive role in my own parent's decision to move from Lewisham to Sutton.
For several years now, Sutton's excellent schools have acted like a magnet to BME parents to the area and have probably played a key role in the rising numbers of BME residents that Sutton has seen over the course of the past decade. But why is this?
One could point to the fact that many of Sutton's BME residents are second and third generation immigrants, for whom the British education system was a key motivating factor in their parents and grandparents to move to these shores. And if this is the case, it is unsurprising that many BME families are more than willing to move borough to benefit from high quality schools, having already pursued a move to a different country and sometimes even continent in pursuit of education. This theory is backed up by the fact that many ethnic minority groups, have for several years now, been attending university and achieving exam results above the national average.
As the saying goes, children are the future, and as Sutton's schools become increasingly diverse, one can only hope that the proximity of children of different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds learning and growing together in classrooms across the borough, can prove instrumental in helping to forge closer ties and reflect the local character to become a more inclusive one