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Last Updated: Monday, 6 November 2006, 06:54 GMT
Ethnic pupils 'must get support'
Union said attacks highlighted need for support
Union said attacks highlighted need for support
It is vital that children from ethnic minority backgrounds receive adequate support in Northern Ireland schools, a teaching union leader has said.

A drive to combat racism in schools is being launched to mark Anti-Racist Workplace Week.

Avril Hall Callaghan of the Ulster Teachers' Union urged the Department of Education to help children cope with differences in language and culture.

Weaknesses in the curriculum inhibiting this should be corrected, she said.

There should also be a database on the performance of children from ethnic backgrounds, she said.

Teaching unions said they had united for the "myth-busting" campaign.

"The increase in racist attacks, especially against migrant workers, highlights the very real need for a united approach to this growing problem in our communities," said Ms Hall Callaghan, who chairs the Northern Ireland Teachers' Council.

"As unions we are all committed to promoting anti-racism and equality in schools and believe it is important to demolish current myths surrounding migrant workers and asylum workers."

The teaching unions who have united are the UTU, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, Irish National Teachers' Organisation and the National Association of Head Teachers.

"One myth which is often trotted out is that migrant children are taking schools places from Northern Ireland children but falling pupil numbers is the problem and indeed migrant children may actually help some schools stay open by increasing numbers," said Ms Hall Callaghan.

"Even if the schools were over-crowded it is not the fault of the children - education is a basic human right."

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