Karamat Iqbal – Pakistani boys’ education in Birmingham schools Executive Summary

Over the past six years, Karamat has been undertaking doctoral research into ‘British Pakistani boys in Birmingham schools; education and the role of religion’. He conducted his research in three state secondary schools.

In the city, Pakistani children are near to becoming the largest pupil ethnic group. Karamat asks whether we can afford to have over one thousand of them, mainly boys, leave school each year without the benchmark qualifications.

He invites education practitioners and policy makers to think afresh. Is it necessary to utilise a religious ethos to raise the educational standards of Pakistani students? Is it time to rethink what we mean by education and ask whether there are more efficient ways for young people to spend their time, especially out of school? Given the magnitude of the task, Karamat asks whether it is now necessary to implement Positive Discrimination to address both the Pakistani underachievement and to increase the community’s presence in the teaching workforce. The findings point to the need to address cultural and religious competence of teachers.

Although the research was conducted in secondary schools a number of quite fundamental implications point to the work of primary schools

Karamat’s work in education has spanned both pre and post-16 education sectors. Over a period of nearly 40 years, his roles have included: youth worker, school teacher, Community Relations Officer (Education), Principal Lecturer and Local Authority Schools Adviser. For 13 years, he worked at a Community College in the role of Deputy Director of Equal Rights and Opportunities Management Unit. Here, he worked at a strategic level, with teams and departments, in the delivery of educational opportunities for diverse students and community groups. Previous to his current focus, Karamat researched the education of white working class children, where one of his reports was used as the main text for a Parliamentary debate, in 2009.

During his time as Local Authority Adviser with Birmingham, Karamat had responsibility for a number of portfolios – equalities, underachievement, remodelling the workforce and health and well-being of staff. Since 2000, Karamat has worked as a consultant-practitioner in education and equalities, where he delivered a number of prestigious assignments with private and public sector organisations. This included providing ‘expert’ support and undertaking equality evaluation of projects for the Department for Education.

In his work, Karamat draws on his own education journey. He came to the UK as a teenager and started his schooling at an Immigrant Reception Centre. He left school at 16, with very few qualifications. However, during the next 40 years, he has been able to more than make up for this, having achieved a Bachelor of Education, a Masters in Social Sciences and numerous qualifications, ranging from management to theology. He also draws on his recent book ‘Dear Birmingham – a conversation with My Hometown’, copies of which will be available for purchase at the lecture.