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Tuesday, 5 December, 2000, 12:26 GMT
Call for action on black school failure
Black pupils are excluded at six times the rate of whites
A coalition of black parents, teachers and school governors could be created to discuss how best to serve the interests of black schoolchildren.

This is not a black thing, this is a money thing

Lee Jasper
The idea came from Lee Jasper, a senior policy advisor to the mayor of London on Equalities and Policing.

He was speaking during a conference on the high numbers of black children failing at school.

Mr Jasper cited "criminally high levels"' of unemployment among the black community and the "culture of poverty" as major factors in black under-achievement in the classroom.

"This is not a black thing, this is a money thing," he said.

Lee Jasper
Lee Jasper: Blames poverty for failure
The debate followed a recent report showing that the achievement gap between 16-year-old white pupils and their Pakistani and African-Caribbean classmates has doubled since the late 1980s.

The report, Educational inequality: Mapping race, class and gender, was commissioned by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), following the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.

It revealed that while black children often started school better prepared than any other group, they appeared to fall behind as they progressed through the education system.

Cultural barrier

Also on the panel at the conference at Imperial College in London was Tony Sewell, who created controversy in the summer with his views on the influence of peer pressure on black boys.

He reiterated his belief that under-achievement among black children was too deep-rooted to be attributed solely to racism among teachers and that many black boys saw learning as "anti-black".

Dr Sewell said the issue was reflected in the case of Damilola Taylor, the Peckham schoolboy killed on his way home last week.

"I say that because in Peckham today if you go to the library with a book in your hand you're considered 'weird' by your peers and it's that culture that I think we need to deal with at the moment."

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See also:

27 Oct 00 | Education
Ethnic pupils 'failed by system'
27 Oct 00 | Education
Teacher racism 'not whole story'
19 Jul 00 | Education
Ofsted 'failure' over school racism
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