Ethnic-minority strategy flaws

We welcome the very long-awaited announcement last week about the continuation of funding for ethnic-minority achievement.

We support the Government's aims to raise achievement levels among ethnic-minority groups, but feel that the strategy that has been adopted is flawed. We are disappointed that the small amount of extra money being pledged is not enough to cover inflation.

We are also disappointed that the Department for Education and Employment has chosen to ignore the weight of responses to a consultation carried out last January and decided to devolve most of the grant to schools.

This means that the achievements of central support are being largely ignored. The issue of black and bilingual staff continuing to live with temporary contracts (many for the past seven years) is being ignored, as is the need for stability and long-term provision. The grant is for just three years; it is needed for much longer.

The number of ethnic-minority pupils has increased, yet the 7,000 staff funded under the existing grant will face the new year with the threat of redundancies, changes in contracts, and the vagaries of buy-back. This is hardly the climate in which to sustain and boost the achievement of many ethnic minority pupils or to retain expertise in the field.

Ian Jones (chair) Pinaki Ghoshal (vice chair) On behalf of the Northern Association of Support Services for Equality as Achievement co Partnership Education Project TEDC, Lakes Road, Dukinfield

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