From Phillips's alma mater, a lesson in teaching black boys: Don't segregate

At Trevor Phillips's old school, a group of Caribbean pupils were taking part in a motivational class. It was designed to build their confidence and switch them back on to learning - and reject the notion that it is "uncool" to enjoy school.

The lesson was one of two special sessions laid on for the 200 Caribbean pupils at the 1,220-pupil White Hart Lane School in Tottenham, north London. But its head teacher, David Daniels, was at pains to point out that the special class was a far cry from the suggestion by Mr Phillips, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, that black students could be taken out of class and taught separately for some subjects to overcome years of underperformance.

"We couldn't do that," he said. "We have pupils with 60 different languages at the school. Once you started down that road where would you stop? He's looking for a single solution - segregated education - for a complex problem. We've tried it for girls - for some it worked beautifully, for others it didn't. Pupils are individuals."

The special sessions for the Caribbean pupils do appear to work, however. Firstly, the school puts on mentoring sessions in which specially selected older black pupils act as mentors to those approaching their GCSE years and encourage them to start taking their education seriously.

The older pupils have to apply for the mentoring posts and be interviewed. They are given special uniforms, maroon jumpers, which they forfeit if they fail to take the task seriously.

One 15-year-old in the mentoring class said: "They tell you the consequences of what would happen if you don't decide to take education seriously - and there are consequences but you have the choice to avoid them. It's helped me to concentrate and given me more confidence."

Martin Johnson, the school's deputy head, added: "There is this focus on the street culture and on the school culture. The idea that learning is not cool is one that we have to address. We work with the students and change their perception."

The classes are organised by Delroy Rhoden, who was hired by the school as a mentor under the "excellence in cities" scheme. One member of staff said: "He can communicate with the youngsters in a way that others can't."

In addition to the mentoring sessions, there are special classes aimed at raising the boys' self-esteem. Staff have arranged for role models from the black community - including David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham who became the youngest MP to serve as a parliamentary private secretary in the Blair Government.

Since the sessions started, there has been a remarkable improvement in the standards of English of the Caribbean pupils. In 2003 only 11 per cent reached the required standard in English national curriculum tests for 14-year-olds. Last year this rose to 45 per cent.

The school is also looking at which other groups of pupils need help. Mr Daniels said there were two other areas of concern: white working-class boys and Turkish-speaking pupils.

Similar mentoring and self-confidence sessions are laid on for the Turkish pupils - the biggest ethnic group in school. They are also taught science in Turkish until they have mastered English.

So far there has been no special provision for the white working-class boys - they are a much smaller minority in the school - but it is an area that Mr Daniels is seeking to address.

One of the pupils in the mentoring session did think that Mr Phillips was right to suggest that Caribbean children should be taught separately: "Other guys discourage us from working," he said. "We tend to play around in bigger classes."

But Mr Daniels was adamant. "It's not a viable solution in a school like this," he said. "You can put on limited activities to solve limited issues for different groups but segregation is the wrong road to go down."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins wins the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Sacha Baron Cohen is definitely not involved in the Freddie Mercury biopic, Brian May has confirmed
film
News
(David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
News
news
News
Boyband star Brian Harvey is on benefits and on the verge of homelessness
people
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Imperial College London: Safety Training Administrator

£25,880 – £28,610 per annum: Imperial College London: Imperial College London ...

University College London: Client Platform Support Officer

£26,976 - £31,614 per annum: University College London: UCL Information Servic...

Guru Careers: Instructional Designer / e-Learning Designer

£30 - 32k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking an Instructional / e-Learning De...

Recruitment Genius: Schools Education & Careers Executive

£30500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Schools Education & Careers Executive ...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor