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Report warns on ethnic familes

Many ethnic minority children arrive at school with even less experience of the world around them than children from deprived white families, according to a report on how to make teaching more effective in a multi-ethnic system.

Although commissioned by Glasgow City Council, the report has national implications. It says some ethnic minority children have no concept of pet shop or seashore, and that some families are operating like "isolated single parent families with fathers spending little time with their children".

The report calls for parenting skills to be taught in personal and social education programmes and for the teaching approaches experienced in mainstream schools to be shared with Saturday, community or mosque schools.

The report states: "Some of these mothers suffer from depression.

Some parents have little knowledge of the education system and do not appreciate the role that parents can play in ensuring the success of their children in the education system."

It goes on to underline the value of play in developing learning needs, an issue that reached the chamber of the Scottish Parliament this week (TESS, next week).

Jim Cassels, author of the report and former headteacher of Bellahouston Academy in Glasgow - a school with a high reputation for integrating pupils from different backgrounds - states: "Young successful black and ethnic minority adults, who had been educated in this country, are a group that the authority should listen to."

The report points out that the aspirations of some black and ethnic minority parents do not match those of the school and that some parents may find the school's aim to develop "improving, striving, increasingly independent young people" is at odds with their aspirations, particularly for girls.

It also suggests that some have negative views of special educational needs. "Parents can feel a sense of shame, particularly the fathers of ethnic minority girls."

Dr Cassels says bilingualism should be valued, but expresses concern about the basic language skills of some parents. "The view was expressed that some British-born bilinguals are becoming British-born semilinguals talking 'Scotch broth'," he states.

The Educational Institute of Scotland warns that it is inappropriate for Glasgow to be consulting on a report that may have significant implications for staff while there is uncertainty about the future of the Glasgow Asylum Seekers Support Project.

A spokeswoman for the city council said: "Although we are currently consulting on it, this report is at present an internal document. It has no status other than than a paper for the director to consider." Passages referring to ethnic minority families' parenting skills and children's basic understanding reflected "neither the position of the education services department nor of the council. Rather, it reflects comments made to the author during the course of his research."

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