Church school accused of racism

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The Independent Online
STAFF at a school where 98 per cent of pupils are Asian have been accused of 'institutional racism'.

A petition, with 1,000 signatures, was handed into Berkshire County Council, claiming that Slough and Eton Secondary School, which is a Church of England school, treated the pupils' culture, religion and heritage in a 'scant, dismissive and contemptuous' manner.

It also accuses teachers of teaching 'unethical values' and claims that the school is 'run on a Euro-centric basis'. It warns that if the concerns expressed are disregarded 'we will have no choice but to strive by mobilising all the available resources until our demands are met'.

The failure to appoint an Asian as head teacher has also angered parent governors, who say that staff wrote to the governing body asking them not to make the appointment. The school has a temporary acting head.

Complaints about the school were first voiced in February by the general secretary of the Sikh temple in Slough, who said pupils had been physically and verbally assaulted. Stanley Goodchild, the chief education officer, set up an inquiry, which concluded that lack of communication at the school was the key problem.

Mr Goodchild still maintains that lack of communication is the major cause of problems and said the council was taking the matter 'very seriously'. He was surprised by the petition since the school was very popular and one of only two over-subscribed schools in the borough. There had been no previous written complaints and the last staff appointments had all been Asian.

One of the parent governors involved in the dispute said: 'What we want is equal representation on the governing body and more Asian teachers.'

Sam Ragendra, a Slough borough councillor, said: 'It's not a question of power, it's a question of concern. Asian parents . . . want to have access and feel their views are taken into consideration. Most are not fluent in English and have no way of communicating their desires to the management, who happen to be white.'

Mr Goodchild said that changing the make-up of the governing body was possible but there were rules and regulations to comply with when appointing governors.