Education: New education standards could leave minorities behind

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The Independent Online
Government plans to raise standards could create educational apartheid and leave ethnic minority pupils trailing, a leading race relations campaigner warned yesterday.

Judith Judd, Education Editor, reports from the North of England education conference.

Some ethnic minority pupils could be condemned to sink schools because of the creation of three new categories of schools under legislation now before Parliament.

Under the Government's school standards and framework Bill there may be a pecking order of schools, Sir Herman Ouseley, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality told local authority representatives and education experts in Bradford. Those at the top would be quicker to exclude pupils and some ethnic minorities would be concentrated in sink or "Del Boy" schools, he said.

Racial stereotyping by teachers and the high level of exclusions among Afro Caribbean pupils must be tackled if standards are to rise across the board. While exam standards have risen steadily overall, some ethnic minority groups have failed to share in the improvement, Sir Herman added.

In a speech which challenged the Government to review its plans for raising standards, he attacked the national curriculum for teacher training for failing to mention racial disadvantage.

"Teachers need support if they are to tackle the high levels of racial harassment found by inspectors, [and] support to overcome their own unwitting but terribly damaging negative racial stereotyping."

"It is inconceivable that six times more black Caribbean boys deserved to be excluded than their white counterparts."

If standards among ethnic minority pupils were to rise, we needed more ethnic minority teachers. He said the Government should monitor the number of ethnic minority entrants to teacher-training. The last set of figures six years ago showed there were hardly any, and even fewer in senior jobs. Ethnic minority applicants were less likely to find teacher- training places than their white counterparts and figures showed that the problem was getting worse.

He also attacked government advisers at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority for trying to impose a curriculum which reflected the culture of the white English middle class. Young people's disaffection with school would increase if the curriculum failed to reflect the world they knew, he said.

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