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Following the decision to withdraw the entitlement to further education that is presently enjoyed by asylum seekers, and to end the automatic right of everyone to attend courses in English as a second language, an eerie silence has descended on Whitehall on the subject of race relations.

Apparently it's not procedure to release the race impact assessments that were carried out before these decisions were made; at least, not yet. This means people will not know what warnings, if any, ministers were given about their decision. The cutbacks are being presented as relating to educational priorities.

What a relief. For a moment, we could have been mistaken for thinking it had something to do with trying to look tough on immigration for the benefit of blue-rinsed Daily Mail readers clinging to the fading memory of a Britain of Lyons teashops and golliwogs on their marmalade jars.

I understand the Commission for Race Equality is also eager to see the reports.

In the meantime, the Department for Education and Skills is sticking to its guns, saying it will release the information when "appropriate".

* Email us at FErret@tes.co.uk

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