Long overdue

27th September 1996 at 01:00
I refer to the report on the black sociologist Heidi Mirza (TES, September 13). She is right when she states that good jobs and structured careers are important for young black people.

However, she is not right when she dismisses multicultural programmes. To us as teacher educators it is very clear that the recommendations in the OFSTED report that Dr Mirza refers to have been long overdue.

Black children are under-achieving and official acknowledgement of that will make children, parents and educators believe that positive steps will be taken to ensure that black children have a fairer deal. Dr Mirza is wrong in believing that revealing black under-achievement automatically puts the blame on black parents. The concern of black parents about their education is clear from the time and effort they have been making by way of extra provision, such as weekend schools to overcome the shortcomings of the existing system. Educational achievement is a very complex process and although they were published over a decade ago, key points of the Rampton and Swann reports are very valid.

There are examples of good schools which have maintained sound education policies which emphasised the responsibilities of all those involved to ensure that children received education that valued them, and helped them achieve their full potential.

This could only be achieved in the context of school environments that reflected the schools' acknowledgement that they could easily fail the children, exclude them, and label them and their families as the "problem". The OFSTED report is only reminding us of our responsibility and good education.

SNEH SHAH Director, Centre for Equality Issues in Education University of Hertfordshire

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