NUT demands funding reform for ethnic minority grant before BNP bites
Funding used to raise standards among minority ethnic groups in schools must be reformed amid fears it could play into the hands of the BNP, teaching union the NUT has warned.
The Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (Emag) - ring-fenced funding allocated to local authorities on a needs-based formula - should be widened to include white working-class children, especially in areas where the BNP is particularly active, the union said.
Speaking at the launch of the NUT's latest report, "Opening Locked Doors", which addresses the underachievement of white working-class children, Dominic Byrne, NUT divisional secretary for Barking and Dagenham, called for a rethink to the funding before it provided the BNP with further ammunition.
The BNP, Mr Byrne said, was looking at education as a major political battlefield and would "jump" at any further opportunity to stress supposed disparities in funding for white working-class pupils, rhetoric that could touch nerves in areas such as Barking, where the BNP is notoriously popular.
"It is by no means beyond the far right to highlight the difference in funding for the different ethnic groups," Mr Byrne said.
"White working class is the one group that has not received any additional funding, and I wouldn't be surprised if the BNP took the opportunity to voice the fact that these children do not see the same funding as ethnic minority and traveller children and turn it to their favour.
"We must pre-empt them (the BNP) because these are the type of lines they will try to deploy in the run up to the election."
The Emag is guaranteed until 2011 under the current comprehensive spending review, and totalled #163;194 million for the year 200910.
The money can be used by schools to recruit additional teachers or specialist teachers to improve attainment among children from minority groups or who speak English as an additional language.
But the Department for Children, Schools and Families has ruled out creating a new ring-fenced grant. A DCSF spokesman said: "We don't agree we need a new ring-fenced grant - we already deliberately target investment, the academy and City Challenge programmes, at the most deprived areas so schools facing the biggest challenges get the backing they need.
"And we are already targeting children falling behind at school. We are legislating so all children and young people who need it will be guaranteed one-to-one tuition and catch-up support in English and maths regardless of their social or ethnic background."