Sunday, December 10, 2006

Publish and be damned

Today's Independent says that a DfES report on racism within the education system has been "quietly shelved". The as-yet-unpublished report points out that Black pupils are three times more likely to be excluded than white, and five times less likely to be on the official register of gifted and talented students:
Although couched in careful Whitehall language, it makes for uncomfortable reading. "The exclusions gap is caused by largely unwitting, but systematic, racial discrimination in the application of disciplinary and exclusions policies," concludes the report by Peter Wanless, the director of school performance and reform at the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), and two other officials.
The government is reportedly anxious not to repeat the MacPherson Report experience, when the Metropolitan Police service was branded 'insitutionally racist'. (Where has 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' disappeared to all of a sudden?)

The comments of head-teachers' associations are particularly enlightening.
Mick Brookes, the general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, said he believed the findings of the report were spurious. " Pupils will be disciplined for bad behaviour if they exhibit bad behaviour," he said. "In my experience as a head teacher my colleagues have always shown absolute integrity in how all young people are treated."
In other words: don't be silly, there isn't a problem. Far worse, though, is this:

John Dunford, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, which represents secondary school heads, rejected suggestions of institutional racism: "I think schools are very racially tolerant places in comparison with what can happen in society outside their gates."

On the question of schools' failure to identify as many gifted and talented black children, Dr Dunford said: "So many of these children have very few educational advantages at home." He added that, in many cases, their parents took less interest in education than parents in Indian and Chinese communities.

Just read that second paragraph again - it beggars belief!

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