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Black Education Debated at Major Conference

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10 Dec 2007

The annual London Schools and the Black Child conference which took place in central London on Saturday was deemed a great success by parents, teachers and children who attended. The conference aimed to address the inequalities in educational attainment by children of African Caribbean heritage and saw the launch of a Black Teachers’ Network.

Diane Abbott and Mayor Ken Livingstone introduced the Black Teachers’ Network as part of an ongoing campaign to recruit, retain and support more black teachers so that the teaching workforce reflects the diversity of London’s schools. Headmaster Christopher Coles won an award for his work at St. Mathias School in Stoke Newington. Janet Aduma was awarded for her work as director of the Readers are Leaders supplementary school and 10 year-old Samantha Imafidon was awarded as Junior Achiever of the year.

 Diane Abbott said: “The recent GCSE results of black pupils show that the situation is improving. However, it’s not enough for black students to be catching up with their white counterparts. There is absolutely no reason why black students should be doing any worse than others. We’re looking for full equality.”

Mayor Ken Livingstone said: “Though much has been achieved in the five years since Diane Abbott and I organised the first conference, we still have a situation where black boys, despite recent improvements in grades, are three times more likely to be excluded from school than their peers.  These children are three per cent more likely to be unemployed, more likely to become embroiled in the criminal justice system and will experience a reduction of £36,000 in lifetime earnings. Working through the London Schools and the Black Child initiative we will maintain the pressure to prevent these failures.”

Andrew Adonis, Minister for Schools and Learners said:
“Over the years, targeted programmes like Aiming High and London Challenge have helped pupils make significant progress – to ensure no child is left behind and we give them the extra push they need. Although these are encouraging trends we know that a lot more still needs to be done and we are determined to do whatever it takes to make substantial further progress in narrowing the attainment gap”.

Kwame Kwei Armah added: “There is nothing more important right now than the education of our children for the welfare of our community, today and for tomorrow. It's my honour to be able to contribute towards this debate.”

Since 2002 over 7,500 parents, students and teachers have attended London Schools and the Black Child.

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