Discrimination of a different hue

7th February 2003 at 00:00
I WAS astonished to read the quoted remarks by Trevor Phillips claiming that white boys had to be "serious nutters" to be expelled, whereas black boys were over-represented in the exclusion figures.

The other group of pupils who are over-represented are those with special educational needs. Prominent among this group are children with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and the figures would be swelled even more if account were to be taken of high levels of under-diagnosis of this condition until very recently.

ADD is a serious medical disorder of the brain, whose treatment and management in relation to schooling was hampered in the past by the unavailability of effective sustained release psychostimulant medication.

Fortunately, such treatment is now available on the NHS.

It is very much to be hoped that improved medication and the protection afforded by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act to prevent discrimination by governors' disciplinary panels will result in a sharp decline in the exclusion of pupils with ADD in future.

In the interim, however, it would be helpful if the incoming chairman of the Commission forRacial Equality could avoid trying to combat one kind of discrimination by stigmatising those suffering from mental health problems, who often face discrimination of a different but equally damaging kind.

Professor Richard Healey

55, The Ridgeway

Fareham, Hampshire

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