Letters Extra: If you're not part of the solution...

21st February 2003 at 00:00

I too was very disappointed that almost the first statement by Trevor Phillips, as the newly appointed Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, should be an attack on schools.

I suppose it could be said that he has absorbed the ethos of the CRE with incredible rapidity.

After all the CRE has a very long and dishonorable history of unconstructive criticism and I had hoped for more from Trevor Phillips.

I havenbsp;written to the TES before asking what support the CRE has ever given to schools in overcoming the problems of the underachievement of Afro-Caribbean boys.

What have the Education Officers at the CRE been doing over the last 20-plus yearsnbsp;other than, of course, producing a report every two to three years accusing schools of doing nothing?

The real problem, as I see it, is that the CRE is part of the problem. By periodically levelling this mindless criticism at schools, it has set up yet another problem, which is the alienation of some black parents.

This has, in some cases, led to parents who are abusive because they perceive teachers to be racist.

As soon as the link between home and school becomes confrontational it is, unfortunately, far more likely that exclusions will follow.

I would not, as Dr Stuart Newton (TES, February 7) does, maintain that teachers have a clean sheet.

I have certainly, in the past, been appalled at some of the attitudes of some of my fellow teachers. However, I am proud to say that that was almost entirely in the past.

What has increased is unfounded accusations of racism by some students in order to get out of, say, detentions; by some parents in order to deny poor behaviour by their children.

Trevor Phillips has trivialised the problem in order to try to claim headlines.

Could we, just for once, have some serious research which looks more deeply and widely into the problem, both inside and outside schools? (I'm afraid I do not think that David Gillborn's research did anything more than look for support for stereotypes).

Jane Eades

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