Catholics' good race news ignored

18th July 2003 at 01:00
AS the authors of the study Ethnicity, identity and achievement in Catholic education, we felt that your report was unbalanced in ignoring the positive thrust of our research (TES, July 4). The main findings of the study were largely ignored in the article. These included:

* the high percentage of black children in Catholic secondary schools;

* the relatively low rate of exclusions of black pupils in these schools;

* the high percentage of minority ethnic pupils who believe their schools "encourage respect for people of different races and religions";

* the fact that most of these pupils say that both "school" and "religion" are important to them; and

* the many and varied initiatives Catholic schools have taken to support pupils from minority ethnic backgrounds.

We reported on pupils' experience of racism in and outside school.

However, our evidence of pupils' experience of racism in Catholic schools remains inconclusive until we have a wider sample and know more about young people's experience in other schools. We described schools where administrators and teachers have found imaginative ways of supporting pupils from a variety of backgrounds. The article failed to acknowledge these positive efforts.

We have to ask what impact this will have on the pupils and schools when they see themselves portrayed so negatively.

Bernadette O'Keeffe, St Edmund's College, Cambridge, Richard Zipfel, 39 Eccleston Square, London W13

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