BRITISH film director Steve McQueen said it was "upsetting" after a survey found one in five black children thought their skin colour would make it more difficult for them to be successful.

Research commissioned by BBC's Newsround programme found 21 per cent of black children felt their skin colour would make it harder to succeed, compared with just 2 per cent of white children and 13% of Asian origin.

The survey of more than 1,600 eight to 14-year-olds also found nine out of 10 black children aspired to go to university, while 72% of white children had the same goal.

Around 40% of black children thought their teachers would describe them as clever, compared with 46% of white children, 39% of Asian and 47% of mixed or other origins.

McQueen, who directed the Oscar-winning film 12 Years A Slave, said: "When I was at school there was this situation where black children were not deemed as intelligent or deemed to be able to go on to do anything of any real purpose. The circle has to be broken, it's upsetting to think it hasn't.

"It's about belief, filling peoples lungs with ambition and possibilities."

The research, by Childwise, involved 276 black children, 640 white children and 711 from other ethnic minority backgrounds.