Misrepresented on Macpherson;Letter

2nd April 1999 at 01:00
IF I actually held the views ascribed to me by Sohail Faruqi and Mrs K Rainey (TES, Letters, March 19 "Ignoring racism will never work") they would be right to castigate me.

Of course schools should not ignore racism. They have a crucial role to do whatever they can to counter an appalling social evil. Of course schools should not ignore the Macpherson report's important messages.

The point I was trying to make was rather different. Early reporting of Macpherson's findings suggested that it was laying the blame for the Stephen Lawrence murder with teachers and schools. Initial impressions were that here was yet another example of schools and teachers being glibly blamed for all society's ills. That would have been a slur on the thousands of schools and teachers working hard to make schools prejudice-free zones.

In the event, the Macpherson report was far more judicious and it certainly contains messages we must all take seriously.

Having had an Irish mother I know quite a lot about racism. Stereotyping is a risk all of us run.

Peter Smith General secretary Association of Teachers and Lecturers

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