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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 September, 2004, 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK
'More black teachers are needed'
Classroom
Black boys have the lowest level of achievement for any ethnic group
A third of London teachers and school governors need to be black or Asian in order to help improve the achievement of black children, a report has said.

The report says that in 2003, 2.9% of teachers in London schools were black, compared with 19.6% of children.

The research was conducted by the Education Commission, which was set up by the London Development Agency (LDA) in response to parental concerns.

It says black teachers should be fast-tracked and offered "golden hellos".

The report - Rampton Revisited, The Educational Experiences of Black Boys in London Schools - lists a series of recommendations to tackle the problem.

Black teachers can sometimes relate better to black children and be less inclined to view them as stereotypes
Diane Abbott MP
As well as fast-tracking and golden hellos, the commission also calls for urgent action to reduce the number of black pupils excluded.

It suggests head teachers should not suspend or expel pupils for a first serious offence, unless the incident involves a knife or gun.

There are also calls for clear procedures which would allow pupils to report racism by teachers.

And it calls on black parents to play a more "proactive role" with their children and schools.

Diverse communities

The research coincides with a conference this Saturday, focusing on the inequalities in educational attainment by children of African and Caribbean heritage.

Chaired by Diane Abbott MP and opened by Ken Livingstone, the conference - London Schools and the Black Child III: Reaching for the Stars - will be held at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in central London.

Mr Livingstone said: "To fully meet the needs of London's diverse communities the teaching profession and school governing bodies must reflect the communities they serve.

It is grossly unfair to blame teachers alone for a phenomena which is more complex than the report appears to make out
National Union of Teacher's Steve Sinnott
"This means that at least a third of London teachers and school governors should be of African, Caribbean or Asian heritage."

Ms Abbott said: "Black teachers can sometimes relate better to black children and be less inclined to view them as stereotypes.

"But the focus should now be on the recruitment of more black teachers in the mainstream and the support of black people already in the profession."

But Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: "It is grossly unfair to blame teachers alone for a phenomena which is more complex than the report appears to make out.

"Even academics in this field do not agree on any one reason for the continuing underachievement of Afro-Caribbean boys.

'Partnership, not blame'

"Teachers and their unions want to work with the African Caribbean community - pupils, teachers and parents - in tackling an issue which is long overdue. But this has to be done in a spirit of partnership, not blame."

A Department for Education and Skills spokesperson said: "Despite recent welcome improvements of pupils from many minority ethnic groups at GCSE, we recognise that many pupils, particularly from African-Caribbean backgrounds, are not achieving their full potential.

"That is why this department has put in place a national strategy - Aiming High - and is working with parents and community representatives to raise the achievement of minority ethnic pupils across the board.

"We are also developing guidance for London schools on creating more representative workforces."




SEE ALSO:
Call to end educational 'racism'
06 Feb 04  |  Education
New scheme to help black pupils
24 Oct 03  |  Education


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