Head sounds alarm on school 'ghettos'


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London's schools are becoming ghettos as the city "sleepwalks towards Johannesburg", a senior headmaster said last night.

David Levin, the head of City of London Boys' School – a leading independent school – said he was "increasingly alarmed at the way London is dividing into ghettos".

He cited the case of Stepney Green, a secondary school in Tower Hamlets, east London, where 97 per cent of the pupils are of Bengali background.

Mr Levin, a South African by birth, was chairman last year of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, which represents 250 of the country's leading independent schools. His school has established links with the Stepney school and with a school in Peckham, south London.

"Children from different backgrounds and from different faiths should be mixing with each other," he said.

Speaking at the HMC annual conference in St Andrews, Scotland, he said: "We're becoming a silo society. A number of children haven't been outside their own council estates, let alone outside Tower Hamlets. It means they're not mixing with people of a different economic background, different race or different faiths."