Page last updated at 08:45 GMT, Tuesday, 31 March 2009 09:45 UK

Somali school pupils 'struggling'

Concern is growing over continuing levels of underachievement among youngsters from Bristol's 10,000 strong Somali community.

Community leaders said the problems had persisted despite efforts to improve the situation.

Difficulties were said to involve both newly-arrived Somali children and those born in the city.

Housing of Somalis in deprived areas and poor English language skills were partly to blame, leaders said.

You can see the children who are born here are also underachieving, so it's not something coming from Somalis, it's something that is here
Khalif Abdullah Abdirahman, parent governor

Khalif Abdullah Abdirahman, a parent governor at Barton Hill Primary school, said: "They are always placed in council house areas and in those areas the schools are already failing.

"So when you come to an area where the school's pass rate is maybe 20%, it's expected that, without question, [Somalis] would be part of the 80%.

"You can see the children who are born here are also underachieving, so it's not something coming from Somalis, it's something that is here.

"I believe it is mostly to do with areas where people are living."

Mohamud Matan, a community development worker at Bristol City Council, said "slower" lessons would help the children understand and learning mentors and support teachers would help.

"It's to do, maybe, with the parents not speaking English," he said.

"It's to do with the schools - some don't understand the cultural aspects of the problems.

"Some of the problems are behaviour and there are schools where young pupils are not settling, there's bullying happening."



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