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Friday, March 26, 1999 Published at 08:53 GMT


Black pupils' failure 'not simply racism'

The union wants racial equality training for headteachers

The underachievement of ethnic minority pupils in school can be caused by social deprivation as much as racism in the education system, says a teachers' union report.

The National Union of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers report, Education and Race, says the reasons that children from ethnic minorities perform less well at school are "very complex", with race being a single factor, alongside issues such as "social class and gender".

[ image: Nigel de Gruchy says the problems facing ethnic minority pupils are complex]
Nigel de Gruchy says the problems facing ethnic minority pupils are complex
"Different ethnic minority groups have different experiences, in terms of academic progress, attainment, exclusions, harassment and bullying," said the union's General Secretary, Nigel de Gruchy.

As such, he says, it can be "counter-productive to rely upon popular assumptions", rather than looking more closely into the specific problems facing specific ethnic groups.

Mr de Gruchy says research has focused on "educational underachievement and exclusions within ethnic minority communities, rather than on the factors which lead to education success and failure".

He called for greater research into the impact of deprivation and gender on educational performance among ethnic minority pupils.

The report makes a number of recommendations which would help to overcome any racial discrimination within schools.

  • A system to monitor new teachers to ensure they do not face discrimination in their first year in school.
  • Governing bodies and headteachers should attend race equality training sessions to reduce the risk of prejudiced attitudes emerging in the process of recruiting and interviewing prospective members of staff.
  • Specialist staff to support ethnic minority pupils.
"Given the NASUWT's commitment to racial equality, the union will collaborate actively with the government and other agencies to pursue these recommendations," said Mr de Gruchy.

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