Letter: Multicultural education in Shropshire

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The Independent Online
Sir: Leonie Jameson's article (9 September) gave a fascinating description of the experience of a group of Muslim women from Dudley at a picnic on the Long Mynd in Shropshire. Unfortunately, her article also managed to create the impression that Shropshire, part of 'the white heartland of Britain', holds itself remote from the rest of Britain's multi- ethnic society. In particular, she wrote of Shropshire as a county 'where local schools offer little multicultural education and the only brown faces are seen on television programmes about the inner cities'.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Shropshire Education Authority has for many years promoted multicultural education through the work of the Shropshire multicultural development service and other curriculum support teams. Very many Shropshire schools, both rural and urban, have active multicultural policies.

Ironically, in view of your writer's comments, the Church Stretton secondary school, which the Muslim women would have looked down on from their picnic spot on the Long Mynd, is particularly effective in this respect. Last year, the school invested a great deal of time, energy and scarce resources in a very successful multicultural arts project centred on a residency by Kokuma, an African and Asian dance company.

Similar residencies are becoming a common feature of the curriculum in schools throughout the county, including the so-called 'white heartlands' - an increasingly outdated description of the English countryside, some of whose residents actually have the 'brown faces' that your writer wrongly assumes are only ever seen in Shropshire on television.

Yours faithfully,

NEIL RATHMELL

Shropshire Arts Education Centre

Shropshire County Council

Shrewsbury

10 September

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