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Racist, or reasonable?

(21 Posts)
benetint Tue 15-Jan-13 21:51:34

I'd really appreciate some honest opinions on this as its such a hard topic to talk about in real life.

We're looking at a primary school for our daughter. we really liked the look of the school but we're not from the area so we asked around. Our friends looked very concerned, saying the area is very deprived, but their main concern seemed to be the number of pupils who didn't speak English as their first language. Now my mum is French, my sister in law is Indian and my friends are of a big range of religions and nationalities which I love. But my friends said that the teachers would spend more time helping the pupils with no English, and dd would get 'lost'.

Do you think their concerns are reasonable, or do you think there's a racist undertone, or even just fear of the unknown?

Would you send your child to a school in a deprived area, where they would be the minority in terms of nationality and ethnic background? Or would it not be an issue? The head seemed great, the teachers were lovely and friendly, the facilities are great, it's close, it has a good feeder secondary.., my friends comments are just niggling me a bit. Thank you so much for any help

nennypops Tue 15-Jan-13 21:56:30

Children pick up new languages incredibly quickly, so I don't think that aspect is going to be much of an issue. I think there's a lot to be said for children being allowed to mix with different cultures and nationalities.

The only thing is, is this a popular school? Because if it is, and if you don't live nearby, you don't stand much chance of getting a place anyway.

LemonBreeland Tue 15-Jan-13 21:56:48

I don't think it is necessarily racist, it is more pondering the level of education your child will get at a school that has a possibly more difficult cohort of children.

I think it would be a concern to me if there were many children who had English as a second language. It is something you need to look into more, and ask about.

HollyBerryBush Tue 15-Jan-13 21:58:54

At primary level I wouldnt have a problem.

WorraLiberty Tue 15-Jan-13 22:00:09

I think the 'racist' element is neither here nor there when it comes to you choosing a school for your child.

What are the online reviews like? You say they Head and teachers seemed great...did you speak to them about this? What sort of ethos and results do the school have? What's the OFSTED report like?

49% of my DS's school come from homes where English is an additional language...but that does not mean most kids don't speak it extremely well.

And any children who do have problems speaking English work with TA's and other outside help so they don't take all the teacher's time.

redskyatnight Tue 15-Jan-13 22:01:06

I think you have a number of different points here.

- children from a deprived area will statistically do less well. That's not to say the children at this school will do less well or that YOUR child will do less well. On a mercenary level the school is likely to attract more funding = good thing

- minority ethnic background. I think this "may" be a concern if the other children are all from the same background and are likely to exclude yours. If it's a mix of different races/nationalities/backgrounds, no worries at all

- English as a 2nd language. Children starting Reception with no English will be pretty fluent in a year or so. In DD's year (Year 2) many of the children who speak English as a 2nd language are among the most able - they come from very aspirational families.

I'm a great believer in gut feel so I would go for the school as it sounds like you liked it. If you're still worried you can always ask specific questions about how the school manages e.g many children who don't speak English.

Lonelybunny Tue 15-Jan-13 22:01:48

It would concern me and my DP's first language is not English. But I would not want my child being in a class if a lot of children are unable to speak English. Yes they pick it up quickly , but how? With a lot of help from the teacher , your friends are right to be concerned IMO

SavoyCabbage Tue 15-Jan-13 22:02:00

I think it can be difficult for any child who doesn't 'fit in' for any reason. That could happen if everyone else plays water polo in a class and your child doesn't.

Where I live, there tends to be areas of immigrants so in one school there will be a lot of children from Burma for example. Then down the road a lot of South Africans.

The disadvantage in that situation for your dd may be that the children will naturally speak Burmese to one another. It's different if at one school the children are Burmese/South African/Tongan.

Where I live (not in the UK) there is no extra support in the classroom for children who don't have any English. So it can be quite difficult for all concerned but if you are in the UK this would not be the case.

^The head seemed great, the teachers were lovely and friendly, the facilities are great, it's close, it has a good feeder secondary..^

This is the important bit.

PomBearWithAnOFRS Tue 15-Jan-13 22:02:15

The only thing I know about a similar situation is that a relative of mine (second cousin or something) lives in London, and her DD was the only child who was white, had blonde hair, and had English as her first language, in the nursery preschool. It was fine when they were tiny, she could chatter in four or five languages before she was 4, but once they all started school, she slipped further and further behind and in the end her mam took her out of that school and enrolled her somewhere else when she was 7 and moving up into the juniors. She did seem to get lost and there was definitely an element of not fitting in/not being integrated - not that anyone was really horrible, but there was a definite nagging "not belonging" - hard to put into words, but I think any situation where any person is the Only One is going to be tricky iykwim.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 15-Jan-13 22:03:01

no, one of the most highly regarded primaries round here is known for having children with more different first languages than anywhere in the vicinity. It is not a marker of a bad school, but some people assume that it will be a terrible problem nonetheless.

WorraLiberty Tue 15-Jan-13 22:03:38

The newest child in my DS's class came here from Portugal and hardly spoke a word of English.

But the teacher manages with the help of a TA and good old Google.

GiveMeSomeSpace Tue 15-Jan-13 22:05:56

i think I would want to know just what proportion have another language as their first. I know of a local school where only 2 in a class of 30 have english as a first language and I am told that those two have suffered as a direct result.
Our children go to a different school where around 60% have English as a first language and we're very happy with how the children are progressing.
I would get to know the school and try and pick up on the vibe.

WorraLiberty Tue 15-Jan-13 22:06:00

As someone else said though...if the kids who are from homes that speak English as an additional language are mainly from the same country, that could lead to your child feeling excluded.

But hopefully it'll be a wide mix like it is in my DS's school.

AgentProvocateur Tue 15-Jan-13 22:10:29

What would be more of an issue to me would be the social side. As others have said, children pick up language quickly, and there will be extra support. My experience is that a lot of minority ethnic families have classes or extra studying after school, and don't participate in the usual round of reciprocal playdates etc. I would also find it difficult as a parent in the playground if a lot of the parents don't speak English. They may, intentionally or otherwise, exclude you, and it's really important - I think - as a working mum to build up a network of other parents you can trust and rely on.

I would think twice about this school.

I would also look at the mix of cutures / languages. There may be an issue if there is a large group from a particular culture or language group at the school as that may inhibit mixing. One of the reasons I didn't put my children in the local state schools was that they would have been part of the dominant minority and I was concerned that they would be chatting in DH's language with a very limited group. Their current school is ethnically diverse but better mixed as there is no one particular group/culture that dominates.

Quite a few of the EAL children will have reasonable or good English, DH was a SAHD and spoke his language to the children so I am not sure if they would be classified as EAL even though I am a native English speaker.

Itsnotahoover Tue 15-Jan-13 22:34:44

As someone who went to a secondary school where I was one of 5 white British in my class, I'm on the fence. On one hand, I feel I could've had a better education in a different school, as I was definitely held back in English classes by the people for whom English wasn't their first language, but didn't make much difference elsewhere. On the other hand I have found that I now genuinely don't notice what race anyone is, as I was brought up n a very multicultural

Itsnotahoover Tue 15-Jan-13 22:35:46

As someone who went to a secondary school where I was one of 5 white British in my class, I'm on the fence. On one hand, I feel I could've had a better education in a different school, as I was definitely held back in English classes by the people for whom English wasn't their first language, but didn't make much difference elsewhere. On the other hand I have found that I now genuinely don't notice what race anyone is, as I was brought up n a very multicultural environment and I think that is definitely a good thing.

sashh Tue 15-Jan-13 22:49:43

People are ridiculous about this. If a school in the UK had a lot of EAL pupils it is a bad thing.

If it is an international school abroad it is a good thing.

Is the school right for your child should be the only question.

Blu Tue 15-Jan-13 22:52:21

DS goes to a school in a deprived area, we live in a deprived area (though I am lucky enough not to be deprived!).
DS was a racial minority of 1 in his class at primary but as the class had such a wide diversity of minorities, no-one was actually a minority, or a majority.

Schools with a high ratio of children on FSM and EAL get extra money, and have to be show to be using it to address educational disadvantage, including special language support. . IME in schools it is a myth that children with EAL hold everyone else back. The statistics in a school's profile include those who are bilingual and fully fluent in English even though a differnt language is used at home.

In truth I would think twice if a huge majority of the school were of one culture who all shared the same (non-English) language. But otherwise, if you like the school, believe what you see smile

SirBoobAlot Tue 15-Jan-13 22:59:36

I wouldn't say it was racist, in theory it is a valid concern like any other, with regard to the quality of education a child will be receiving. But in reality, children pick up languages so damn quickly, especially primary school age children.

If you like the school, the OFSTED report is good, the staff are nice, then really that should be your focus.

WorraLiberty Tue 15-Jan-13 23:14:58

Errrm OP looking at your posting history, you seem a little obsessed with this sort of thing...like for 2 years confused

What happened to the C of E school or the Catholic school you were looking at?

Or all of the other schools in 'rough areas'?

Surely to god you must have found one by now?

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