29th September 2000 at 01:00
TOOLKIT FOR TACKLING RACISM IN SCHOOLS. By Stella Dadzie. Trentham Books pound;10.95

Anti-racism in education has had a bad press. At all levels there are those who feel uncomfortable discussing race equality and its implications for professional practice.

Stella Dadzie's accessible and practical guide is both reassuring and challenging. On the one hand she offers support and encouragement to those who see racial equality as threatening, demonstrating how they can develop responses and plan an appropriate curriculum for a culturally diverse society.

On the other hand she challenges those who think they have already addressed race equality to think again, review their practices and develop processes for self-evaluation and improvement. Her aim is to enable teachers and schools to respond to racism with the same confidence, rigour and assurance as they address questions of health and safety.

The book is in two sections. Part one takes schools through planning and improvement, setting out their legal responsibilities. It suggests ways in which staff, parents and students can be encouraged to become involved in developing their school as a more just community.

Guidance is offered on monitoring by ethnicity and on staff recruitment. Dadzie draws on her considerable experience as a teacher and training consultant, suggesting staff development activities and providing checklists and sef-evaluation tools which schools can adapt.

The handbook is relevant to all schools, whether they serve multicultural or predominantly white communities. The latter should not be put off by some of the early examples, which assume culturally diverse contexts - this is remedied later. The book should help teachers and governors in both primary and secondaries to meet inspection requirements and address racism at an institutional level.

Part two presents a range of approaches and activities which can be used with secondary students, encouraging them to understand how racist ideas and stereotypes are formed, and to recognise the need to challenge racism in school and the community.

It will be particularly helpful for those developing new citizenship programmes and reviewing their PSHE provision. Students are encouraged to have a positive sense of their own identity and to accept responsibility for their own attitudes and behaviour. Dadzie's approach should cause those who argue that direct anti-racist teaching is counter-productive to think again.

Toolkit offers guidance on ways of introducing sensitive, real-life issues into the classroom. It should prove a valuable aid in helping students become effective citizens, able to realise a more equal society.

Audrey Osler Audrey Osler is director of the Centre for Citizenship Studies in Education, University of Leicester

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