Hypocrites should fight for changes

14th November 2003 at 00:00
The failure of black boys in London schools has little to do with racism, nor are the schools to blame. If this was the case, Asian children would also do badly and also, most obviously, black girls would fail. But both do well.

The schools try as hard as they can to overcome the real problem, which is working-class, male, "urban", street culture: both black and white working-class boys do poorly at school.

Trevor Phillips, head of the Commission for Racial Equality, knows perfectly well, and has said so on TV recently, that black boys go off the rails in primary school because they too often do not have fathers around who are willing to do a parent's job.

The result is a youth culture and attitude that rejects education so strongly that black and white teachers cannot, despite immense efforts, overcome it completely. It is not the schools but this culture that Diane Abbott and Mr Phillips, in common with many middle-class Londoners, are so desperate to keep their own sons away from.

This does not, however, rescue them from the charge of hypocrisy and selfishness when they send their children to exclusive, expensive, private schools. Until people like them, with status and influence, join with the teachers and others in the community to try to change things nothing will change.

I know what I am talking about: I have been teaching in inner London since 1973.

Chris Hardy

72 Muncaster Road

Battersea, London SW11

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