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Thursday, 8 April, 1999, 06:44 GMT 07:44 UK
School racism 'alive and kicking'
alison moore
Alison Moore: Attacked outside school
By Sean Coughlan in Brighton

Children as young as four should be taught about anti-racism, says a black primary school teacher who was the victim of a racist attack.

Alison Moore, presenting an emotional address to the annual conference of the National Union of Teachers in Brighton, told delegates that racism was "alive and kicking" and that every effort had to be made to be made in schools to tackle it.

{ AUDIO 1 }The union conference, which gave Ms Moore a standing ovation, had unanimously passed an emergency motion calling for an awareness of racism and cultural diversity to be made part of the National Curriculum, as recommended by the report into the murder of the black teenager, Stephen Lawrence.

Ms Moore, 31, was knocked unconscious by four white youths 14 months ago when leaving her south London primary school. Since the attack, she has had to face death threats and racist graffiti, and says that the impact of the psychological and physical injuries has been long-lasting.

susie burrows
Susie Burrows: "Need for a new ethos"
She told delegates that racist ignorance needed to be redressed if Stephen Lawrence were not to have died in vain.

"The history curriculum in primary schools does not reflect the black input into history. There is a lot of ignorance surrounding blacks and Asians and other people of colour in Britain," said Ms Moore.

She had been astonished to discover that none of a class of 10-year-olds knew how black people came to be living in Britain.

"We are here because we were invited," Ms Moore said. "We are here because hundreds of years ago, Britain went to what is now the Third World and plundered as well as making slaves."

'Even racist yobs eat curry'

Ignorance about the contribution black people were making to British society was at the root of racism, Ms Moore said.

"We haven't come to England to take away people's jobs or to drain the social security system or to steal people's wives and partners," she said. Even "racist yobs" went out at the weekend and ate a curry or a Chinese meal.

She also called for teachers to be trained in anti-racism lessons and said too many schools were themselves institutionally racist.

herbert bukari
Herbert Bukari: "We need more teachers from minority ethnic groups"
The debate on anti-racist education included experiences from other delegates. Susie Burrows from Hackney described the victimisation of Asian families on east London housing estates, and said there was a need for schools to create an ethos that encouraged racial awareness.

A black teacher from Brent, Herbert Bukari, called for greater efforts to recruit more teachers from ethnic minorities. There were many schools which had a majority of black pupils and few black teachers, he said, offering few role models for pupils.

In his own teaching experience he said he had encountered racism in the classroom and among school governors, but the presence of black teachers had made a significant difference to attitudes.

Unions 99
The union is now calling for a greater emphasis on combating racism through education, including making "anti-racism an integral and explicit part of the curriculum in all schools".

The motion passed by delegates also calls for teacher training institutions to ensure that student teachers are made aware of the importance of racial awareness.

As well as countering the forms of overt racism, a delegate reminded the conference that within schools black pupils were more likely to be excluded and less likely to perform well in exams, a position that reflected many negative expectations of black pupils' abilities.

BBC Education Correspondent Mike Baker reports
BBC Education Correspondent Sue Littlemore: "Many teachers feel they lack the tools to fight racism"
See also:

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