School forced to close by row over 'racist' expulsion: A dispute has broken out over the decision to isolate a boy aged 10 who was expelled last January, then reinstated compulsorily. Mary Braid reports

TWO days of demonstrations against the 'racist' expulsion of a 10-year-old black pupil forced a Birmingham junior school to close down yesterday. Isa Stewart was expelled by Westminster Junior School, Handsworth, in January after a playground incident in which a teacher's hand was cut.

For the past four months he has received no education. In March his mother Pauline, 29, won her appeal against the school's decision. Birmingham City Council ruled that Westminster should reinstate him. The school later lost its appeal to an independent panel to revoke the council ruling.

Ten days ago Westminster was forced to take Isa back but refused to allow him to be taught with other children. He spent the first week sitting in the corridor outside the headmaster's office. The school is appealing to John Patten, the Secretary of State for Education, to uphold its original decision.

Isa's isolation prompted demonstrations by parents, organised by the local African People's Education Group. The organisation is angry at the disproportionate number of black pupils, particularly boys, being expelled from Birmingham schools.

'This is not an isolated case,' Maxine Tapper, the group's founder, said. 'It's just another attempt to make another African boy educationally subnormal.'

Ms Tapper vowed that there would be more demonstrations if the situation was not satisfactorily resolved when Westminster reopens its gates on Monday.

David Neale, Westminster's headteacher, is refusing to comment before Mr Patten hears the appeal. But Chris Keates, general secretary of the Birmingham branch of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: 'Teachers have done everything possible but they have come to the conclusion that the level of disruption caused by this child is harming his education and that of his classmates.'

Birmingham council said the school decided to close to 'create some breathing space' and the council was working hard to resolve the dispute, but the legal position was 'murky'. The council is concerned at the disproportionate number of black boys being expelled from school. The Government says it shares that concern. Between 1990 and 1992 Afro- Caribbeans represented more than 8 per cent of the 6,700 expulsions from British schools yet they made up 2 per cent of the school population.

Leading article, page 21

(Photograph omitted)

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
  • 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 General

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£12 - £15 Hourly Rate: Sheridan Maine: Are you an experienced Accounts Assista...

Sheridan Maine: Financial Accountant

£150 - £190 Daily Rate: Sheridan Maine: One of London's leading water supplier...

Sheridan Maine: Portfolio Accountant

£30,000 - £35,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you a Management Accountant with...

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