Black pupils stereotyped

17th July 1998 at 01:00
I CAN assure Anthea Millett ("Race to the fore", TES, July 10) that the view that many white teachers racially stereotype ethnic- minority pupils is not "contentious". Ask Chris Woodhead, the chief inspector. Ask any group of black pupils or parents.

The 1996 report for the Office for Standards in Education by Gillborn and Gipps makes this clear on the basis of unchallenged research. This issue is central to teacher training and for Ms Millett to cast doubt on it gives cause for concern.

The Social Exclusion Unit's report on truancy and exclusion recommends more attention be paid to equalities issues in teacher training. So, despite the positive picture Ms Millett paints of how well teacher training is addressing the issue of racial equality the Commission for Racial Equality is not alone in its view that more needs to be done if the Teacher Training Agency is to be effective.

I remain unconvinced that the agency itself knows how to evaluate the efforts of training providers to meet its equality standards. What is it that trainers need to do effectively to help trainees overcome unwitting stereotypes or to deal effectively with racial harassment? It must provide answers to these questions in order to monitor the implementation of the qualified teacher status standards and initial training curricula and to meet its broader remit.

The key to the commission's concern and that of many parents and others is the mismatch between what the training agency says and sometimes does and between what it requires and many training providers deliver on equality issues. Ms Millett is correct to point out that "the stakes are too high for failure to be an option". That is why the commission will continue to press her and the Government to bring equality into the heart of the training agenda and to use their regulatory powers to achieve improvement at institutional level.

Herman Ouseley. Commission for Racial Equality. London SW1

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