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Minority view;Diary

BOARDING schools are said to instil a certain toughness, and Patricia Metham, head of top gels' school Roedean, needed that quality in spades last week.

She provoked, er, a passionate response at a conference aimed at getting more ethnic minorities into top positions, organised by Labour MP Keith Vaz's Blair-backed Into Leadership outfit.

About a quarter of Roedean's girls are from ethnic minorities - largely from overseas - and Ms Metham joined a panel on education and employment in the public sector where she proclaimed the wonders of the house system for bonding pupils and promoting equal opportunities.

"How many of your management team are from ethnic minorities?" asked an NUT rep. Er, none, Ms M admitted - though one had just left.

"Why can't we have a real-life Lenny Henry?" jeered another delegate (referring to Lenny's latest TV role as a dynamic black headteacher).

Things eventually got so heated, the chair was forced to ask: "Does anyone have a question not on education?" All good character-forming stuff.

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