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An inquiry into alienation

(Photograph) - SUKHVINDER STUBBS ( right). Chief executive of the Runnymede Trust, the think-tank on race relations The main political parties seem to be saying race is not a first-term issue, but there are many issues facing black and ethnic minority children that need to be addressed.

Exclusions are six times higher for black pupils than white. The new education act extends the maximum length of exclusions, something which will disproportionately affect black children.

I would go further in looking at disaffection and alienation, particularly among Afro-Caribbean boys, so we can intervene positively before they lead to exclusion. We are looking at how adults can provide more support, particularly in the area of careers.

Home-school contracts may disproportionately affect children from ethnic minority families. For example if it extends to the way children dress, it could affect young Muslim girls who wear a hijab.

We need more systematic and comprehensive monitoring of levels of achievement of different ethnic groups. The ethos that under-achievement is a problem of young black people and their families rather than the system failing them needs to change.

We have to look at funding to see whether resources can be better targeted. There may be a case for looking at educational disadvantage as a whole rather than focusing so closely on the needs of pupils with English as a second language.

The whole issue of religious education and pastoral care also needs to be reconsidered. And we need a very positive drive to recruit more black teachers.

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