Selection is leading to ghettos;Letter

12th March 1999 at 00:00
THE DAY after the Macpherson report on the Stephen Lawrence murder was published, all staff in this school signed a letter to parents confirming our commitment to oppose racism and, in the light of the report's assertion that schools are institutionally racist, to review our equal opportunities policies. We were alarmed at the news the next day (TES, February 26) that schools ignore racism.

The way the education system is structured is leading to policies which are (perhaps unwittingly) racist. Parents are being told to use key stage 2 national test results to choose a school, and many parents are prepared to drive all over London to ensure their children get the "best".

Research shows that girls perform better than boys in national tests, that children who speak English as an additional language perform less well, and that children from families entitled to free school meals do less well again. A large percentage of African-Caribbean families can be found in this last group. As a result, schools are under pressure to select girls, those whose first language is English and white children.

This school, which is situated in a deprived, ethnically-mixed area, has been through a difficult period. Two years ago, the reception class was predominantly black and out of 30 children only two were girls.

Policies which will lead to a "fair and just society" have to be implemented at national level. We are in danger of creating schools which are ghettos, and the implications for race relations in this country are unthinkable.

Denise Rogers Snowsfields primary school Kirby Grove, London SE1

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