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Network to pool bright ideas

A new network for black teachers to meet and share ideas is being set up by England's General Teaching Council.

It aims to promote racial equality, improve the expectations and achievement of black pupils and encourage more ethnic minorities into teaching.

Official figures show that just over 4 per cent of teachers are from black and ethnic minority backgrounds even though the proportion of these groups in the general population is 9 per cent.

Sashi Sivaloganathan, GTC vice-chair, said some schools struggled to meet the requirements of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, which placed duties on education institutions to ensure racial equality.

"There is evidence that some black and minority ethnic learners fail to reach their potential and that teaching is unable to attract, retain and make the most of black and minority ethnic employees," she said.

The network, called Achieve, will be launched tomorrow at the London Schools and the Black Child Conference.

It aims to help teachers and other education professionals share ideas and influence policy through discussion groups and electronic newsletters.

Diane Abbott, the Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington and conference organiser, said the launch of Achieve was one of the highlights of the event.

"Black teachers often feel stressed and isolated and a network for them to meet and share ideas is a great thing," she said.

"We need to support black teachers and encourage more black people into teaching. If there was a higher proportion of black teachers the cultural literacy of the workforce generally would be increased."

Members taking part in the Achieve project will be able to share practice and develop ideas which can then be used to influence both the teaching profession and policy-makers.

A spokeswoman for the General Teaching Council for England said the network aimed to help schools tackle the underachievement of some black and minority ethnic pupils and to prepare all pupils to live in a multi-cultural society.

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