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A dream come true for students

Freda Hussain is a rare breed: an Asian-born headteacher of an English school.

She was raised in Pakistan and moved to England in 1965 when her mother accepted a teaching job in the country. She took her A-levels and went to university in Manchester before following her mother into teaching.

In 1991, Mrs Hussain was appointed principal of the Moat community college in Leicester. The city-centre school has 1,050 pupils and 95 per cent of them are from ethnic-minority groups.

This year, she also became the country's first female Muslim high sheriff.

She said: "When I was appointed as head, some of the girls approached me and said, 'You have given us something to dream about - we never thought we would see an Asian woman appointed as a headteacher.' It is important that we can raise children's aspirations in this way."

But Mrs Hussain said there should be no hint of positive discrimination in favour of ethnic- minority candidates applying for senior positions, insisting recruitment should be driven by ability.

"Asian families traditionally wanted their children to go into medicine and the law so you would have seen very few from that first generation going into teaching," she said.

"Increasingly, though we are seeing more young people from ethnic minorities applying to teach and I believe in years to come they will start to make an impact on the senior management positions."

But she said: "Teachers should only get the senior positions if they are right for the post. I don't believe in tokenism."

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