Primary perspective

6th December 2002 at 00:00
Inchview Primary in Pilton, an area of multideprivation in north Edinburgh, instituted its race equalities programme last October with the arrival of acting headteacher Sheila Laing.

"Although we do not have a large number of ethnic minority pupils in the school, racism is an issue in the community and some of the children did have entrenched prejudices learned from their parents," says Ms Laing.

"Before the programme started there was probably no challenge to these views. Now the pupils know they have to divorce themselves from such views in school."

The school used to have no race equalities education resources but has now bought many books suitable for all classes from nursery to P7, such as an African alphabet book, the Stephen Lawrence story and the diary of Anne Frank as well two Unicef books, For Every Child and A Life Like Mine, which illustrate the rights of children throughout the world.

Ms Laing, who shares the job of anti-racist co-ordinator with class teacher Fiona Bogie, began the equalities programme with a training day led by Rowena Arshad from the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland.

"The training day addressed our fears as an all-white staff so that we could adopt the right approach and the right terminology. This was the core. This gave us all confidence."

The programme is now part of the school's development plan and the staff have just completed a three-week all-school equalities education module. They downloaded good practice plans from the CERES website and made these into packs for all the classes.

The school works closely with the Black Community Development Project, which celebrates anti-racism in the local community, and one of the teachers has trained in the use of "persona dolls". Using these large puppets, she facilitates equalities education for children from nursery to P2.

During the Scottish Storytelling Festival, the school brought in a Ghanaian storyteller, and one recent school trip was to the Sikh temple in Leith.

"This was not three-week tokenism, tick the box and move on. Our approach is holistic and on-going," says Ms Laing.

"There's not enough about equalities education in 5-14. We're just beginning and we need a lot of help. What do I know about black history? Not much. We need much more training for teachers.

"I think you have to include equalities education about race together with gender, disability and so on. It's all part of valuing each other and respecting each other."

Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland,

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