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Black Boys Suffer Exclusion

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28 Jun 2005

Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington and founder of the annual London Schools and the Black Child initiative, warned at a meeting today about the worryingly high levels of exclusion for black and mixed race boys.

On Friday the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) outlined new tough measured aimed at clamping down on unruly behaviour in the classroom. These proposals were accompanied by figures showing disproportionately high levels of exclusion of black and mixed race boys from schools.

Diane Abbott said: “I am disturbed by these new figures. They confirm concerns raised again and again at my annual conference that both black and mixed race boys are being permanently excluded from school at alarming rates - twice that of white counterparts. I do understand that it is important for schools to take action against children who may be violent, disrupting classes or otherwise making it impossible for the majority of children to learn. But the fact that black boys are twice as likely to be excluded as white boys points to a systemic problem.”

She added: “We need to look at what is happening to these boys to make them so disaffected and antagonistic to education. I believe that the roots of the problem are in primary school and in the continuing educational underachievement of black boys.”

She explained: “Policy-makers, parents and teachers alike must acknowledge the link between levels of social exclusion and drifting into anti-social behaviour and crime. It is notoriously difficult for children to re-enter the education system after having been barred.” She went on: “The government has reported that permanent exclusions are up by 6% and claims this is a testament to the success of this tough approach. This of course is a tragedy and can only be cause for concern - not celebration.”

Abbott concluded: “Exclusion has dire consequences and must always be a very last resort. However, these new measures risk making it a knee-jerk reaction to disruptive behaviour and ignore the need to train teachers better, to deal with the causes of unwanted classroom behaviour, and to deal once and for all with black educational underachievement.”


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