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Racism in schools… it’s time for a change

David-CameronAn education expert today criticised Conservative leader David Cameron for backing setting by ability in schools, claiming it was institutionally racist

Gerry German, director of Community Empowerment Network, said there was clear evidence that teachers discriminated against black children when deciding how to band them by ability.

German said that wherever schools used setting “you can see clear shade differences between the top and bottom sets.” He told OBV Blog: ‘Once you start labelling pupils by ability, you label them for life. Teachers are unconsciously implementing a system that institutionally discriminates.’

The education campaigner was responding to the Tory leader’s speech yesterday, when Cameron said: “We know that discipline is vital but we overrule head teachers when they exclude a disruptive pupil.

“We know that every child has different abilities and different needs but too often we put them all in the same class so the brightest aren’t stretched and those who are struggling fall behind. Discipline. Setting by ability.”

However this approach is certain to annoy many education experts, particularly those concerned with eliminating racism.

Professor David Gillborn has previously warned: “Proposals to extend selection in schools through setting by ability, could lead to more under-achievement. Research shows that when teachers make decisions like these, they generally underrate the abilities of black youngsters.”

The evidence points to the need for any incoming Conservative administration to take a fresh look at the impact such policies have on race equality.

By Lester Holloway

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