Friday Forum

29th October 2004 at 01:00
Mike Kent is a Friday columnist and head of Comber Grove primary school in the south London borough of Southwark

"There is a huge racial mix at my school, but we don't have anything like the problems endured by secondary colleagues. Having a mix of black and white teachers certainly helps, and I receive great support from my black, and quite outstanding, deputy head.

"In 24 years in my school, the only worrying racial incidents have been caused by parents, and they're difficult to counter, although it's essential to challenge them. I've had a white parent tell her child 'not to play with the blacks'. I've had a parent call me a racist for disciplining her son when he urinated over another child. And years ago I was sent a long-term Asian supply teacher by the LEA who tried to take me to a racial tribunal when I suggested he might like to get off his chair and do some work.

"We did have one extraordinary incident recently. A reception class had been learning about rainbows, and a tiny child said, quite innocently, that he liked all the bright colours but he didn't like black. A black parent overheard this remark and immediately accused the teacher of not countering racism!

"One of the pleasures of working with primary children is that racism doesn't seem to raise its ugly head or cause issues. They just enjoy each other's company as children."

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