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Islington schools’ ‘brutal’ lesson in being black

24 May, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

HEADTEACHERS have been sent to “brutal but necessary” courses to stamp out racial stereotyping in Islington schools as a way of improving results for Caribbean boys.

An annual report into Islington’s education services revealed that the average results for the poorest Caribbean boys had plummeted over the past year.

Councillor Vivien Cutler, vice-chairwoman of the children’s services scrutiny committee, asked council officers at a meeting whether attainment by “black Caribbean boys was really hitting rock bottom”.

Officers confirmed this as they presented Progress 8 scores, which measure a student’s academic progress from the time they start secondary school to GCSEs.

A “cultural compet­ency” course led by psych­ologist Dr Laura Fontaine was offered to school senior leadership teams.

Emma Simpson, a council worker who consults on secondary education said: “People who have gone to those trainings have found them incredibly powerful. They’re very uncomfortable. People have said: ‘That was brutal but necessary.’

“They say they hadn’t realised what the experience was for a young black boy and hadn’t realised how they might be contributing to this problem in an unconscious way.”

Mark Taylor, director of learning and schools, said at last month’s meeting: “There was a view that if you had the bulk of schools as ‘good’ or ‘outstand­ing’ then that rising tide would favour all ships. But that’s not the case. It doesn’t favour black Caribbean boys as well as white British boys.

“Another issue around this is class. We need to explore that. That is going to involve some difficult conversations.”

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