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Friday Forum

Liz Henning is associate adviser for Manchester local education authority.

A former head of maths in Rochdale, she is a troubleshooter, giving support in behaviour management and maths teaching strategies to teachers in the city

"Most of my experiences as a teacher have been in all-white schools where problems of race have not been manifest. In my last school, however, the mix was 5050 white and ethnic minorities, and the pupils seemed to accept each other's differences really well. They were used to working alongside each other and there was a nice sense of integration, though some Asian parents were concerned that the white kids would lead their children astray. But I suppose it is all about positive reinforcement.

"It's a very adult thing to be able to respect difference, and you constantly have to talk through with students why they should respect each other regardless of shape, size, intelligence, colour. You have to interact and you have to be a role model. When race issues get out of hand there is always some underlying problem - a frustration at how things are being handled, a matter of low self-esteem - and these underlying issues have to be addressed."

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