'Mild' boot camps work for black boys, says Tory

4th April 2003 at 01:00
Liberal middle-class educationists should confront their prejudices and embrace "boot-camp" style teaching for black youngsters, Damian Green, shadow education secretary, told The TES this week.

Early intervention is vital to prevent bad behaviour escalating and to give young black people the best chance in life, he said.

Mr Green, considered to be a liberal Tory, was visiting the East London Young Leaders academy set up by Ray Lewis, a former youth prison governor, to instil discipline and create black leaders.

The academy, which runs after-school and weekend sessions, caters for black boys aged eight to 11 who have been or are at risk of being excluded from school.

Boys are expected to follow a strict code of discipline, including a military style roll-call.

They are also encouraged through educational visits and activities such as poetry reading to aim to become the business leaders and politicians of the future.

This week Mr Lewis told them: "One in 100 black adults is now in jail. It is a staggering statistic ... is that where you're going to end up?"

Mr Green, MP for Ashford, said: "It is like a mild version of a 1950s style military boot-camp but from what I have seen it clearly works.

"You cannot have one blueprint for dealing with all children with behavioural difficulties but I think you have to confront your own prejudices. If someone said to middle-class, liberal educationists 'we are going to help black working-class boys with a really tough regime' they would say that is exactly the wrong thing to do."

Platform, 27

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