The degree of interaction between individuals within the British society and their ethnic minority neighbors is crucial in establishing the delicate balance necessary for peaceful coexistence. This issue is clearly multi-dimensional in nature and one that has been identified as a 'wide-ranging question with no easy answers' (The Economist, 8 May, 2003, p. 23). A fundamental issue with regards to this question is one that relates to the degree to which the members of varying ethnic groups operate independent of each other and of the society at large in their daily lives. One constraint relates to the proximity in which the various ethnic groups reside. Within Britain, this situation is not as extreme as within the United States, however, there still remains considerable residential isolation within several ethnic groups especially those originating from Southern Asia (Johnston, Forrest & Poulsen, 2002; Johnston, Poulsen & Forrest, 2002).
Much of this can be attributed to a combination of residual discrimination within the labor and housing markets, lower income for individuals within certain demographic areas, restrictions placed on members of certain groups as to where they are able to reside peacefully and the desire of many ethnic groups to live with individuals of like ethnicities within their own communities. The combination of these factors both facilitate, maintain and sustain the cultural identity of ethnic minorities as well as to isolate them from the potential threats posed by the unknown. Dorsett (1998) purports that both the choice to reside in ethnically segregated areas and the constraints which make such a living arrangement necessary may be important in determining residential location and facilitates residential separation.
One consequence of the residential separation among ethnic and cultural minorities is one that relates to education and the quality of instruction received by students. This is especially significant in that most publicly funded schools draw their student base from individuals within their local areas and as a direct result, there is a strong tendency for schools to be segregated in areas where there are both purposive and coincidental segregation. For individuals operating with a clear agenda to promote integration and encourage assimilation, this is an unnecessary constraint since such segregation within the school system serves to constrict the contact between individuals of varying ethnic and cultural backgrounds. This essentially promotes a great separation of cultural identity and fosters a feeling of thereby potentially promoting a cultural of separate identity. For some individuals who wish to maintain their cultural identity separate schooling is seen in a positive light while others who embrace the notion of multiculturalism and its potential to promote a deeper understanding of diversity it is seen as a highly negative influence. In examining this issue within the public school system, one issue is raised constantly. That issue relates to the notion of the existence of 'separate but equal' in terms of the quality of the education provided to ethnic minorities and that provided in schools where there is a predominance of white students. The research indicates that there is a tendency for ethnic minorities to