Being the only BME kid in an all-Caucasian class

(95 Posts)
Confuzzled19 Thu 10-Jan-19 21:14:30

Would this worry you?

OP’s posts: |
Mediumred Fri 11-Jan-19 03:21:55

Umm, I think this would concern me a bit. Are there other BME children in the school and it’s just this class? Is it a reflection of the area (a very white area?) does the school seem to acknowledge and celebrate diversity while promoting respect and tolerance? Anyhow, I guess what i’m saying is it’s perfectly understandable to be concerned about this even if it can’t be helped or the school is good in other ways.

A friend’s children are BME and when one of her children started secondary school she told her mum that it was ‘wonderful’ to see people like herself. We’re in London and her primary, while not totally white, really wasn’t very diverse by London standards. This young girl’s comments really brought home to me how children can feel different even in our wonderfully multicultural capital and in this day and age.

DangerMouse17 Fri 11-Jan-19 03:43:32

This was me growing up. I found it absolutely fine actually. Me and one other in the entire school (outside London). Not so good when I had to go to France on a dual exchange though....lots of hair stroking and telling me I was like a dog

RedSkyLastNight Fri 11-Jan-19 07:52:16

As per PP, is this representative of the area you live in? If not, then yes it would concern me.

This was also me until Y5 (when my parents moved me to a more diverse school). I experienced a lot of racism and just general lack of understanding. Thankfully your child is now unlikely to experience the racism at school and I'd expect the teachers at least to be more understanding of your child's background and culture. I spent my primary years wanting to be the same as everyone else, to the point that I still half wish I was white (and wanted my DC, born to a white father to at least "look" white). As I said, I do think times have changed, but perhaps not as much as we would want them to have.

glamorousgrandmother Fri 11-Jan-19 07:57:18

My daughter was in that position when we left London in the late 80s. She experienced some racism at first but it was nipped in the bud immediately and she had no problems after that. Secondary school was slightly more diverse but not much and was also fine.

user789653241 Fri 11-Jan-19 07:58:25

Mine is, and I don't worry so much. It's always was and will be this way at where we live. So far, I don't think he has experienced any negativeness because of his ethnicity, except for minor incidents which he didn't really care.

spinn Fri 11-Jan-19 09:21:31

It really depends on the schools approach to diversity.

Does the school actively ensure there is a wide exposure to diversity? Are displays, resources, external speakers representing a wide range of bme, disability, social experiences and aspirations etc if yes, then no concerns from me, if no then yes concerns.


drspouse Fri 11-Jan-19 09:38:50

It's not about negative incidents, so much, as about not ever seeing anyone that looks like them, having role models etc.

So if they have a large family locally that looks like them, it's just by chance they are in this class alone and the other classes are more balanced, and the area is balanced, BME teachers - should be fine.
If this is the only child of a White parent and a BME parent and the BME parent is not on the scene and neither are those grandparents/cousins etc. and the area is all White - very worrying.

(note: Caucasian is not seen as a particularly helpful term these days, just say White)

Confuzzled19 Fri 11-Jan-19 10:12:03

The class reflects the immediate local area and the other year groups. We are slightly outside of the local area and in a slightly more diverse though predominantly white area.

OP’s posts: |
Confuzzled19 Fri 11-Jan-19 10:12:47

Just to add, the reason we are considering it is because academically, it’s a better option

OP’s posts: |
drspouse Fri 11-Jan-19 10:15:32

What about family etc.?

My DD is BME (she and my DS are adopted and he is white as are we).
We had a choice of small, all white schools and larger more mixed schools - again we're in a sub-area that's more mixed and the two small all white schools are in different sub areas.
We chose the mixed schools as a no-brainer as she doesn't spend her weekends and evenings with family that looks like her (though we do have friends of her ethnicity locally as well as the more general BME population).
Personally, I wouldn't even consider it, but if you are in a very large BME extended family who are local it might be OK as your DC will be surrounded by people who also have the experience of being the only BME face in the room.

drspouse Fri 11-Jan-19 10:17:14

Assuming your DC is about to start primary, then academically, the DCs' progress will depend almost entirely on you and not on the school unless a) they have SEN and need input from school or b) the school is totally failing G&T and you are completely certain your DC is G&T.
(in other words, it may matter if they are definitely in the top or bottom 1%)

user789653241 Fri 11-Jan-19 10:23:43

I don't see the negativeness in not seeing someone who looks like them tbh. Yes my ds looks different, I look different, and we are surrounded by white Caucasian children, parents, and teachers. Yet my ds strongly identifies himself as British/English with added heritage. If no one tells him he is different, he wouldn't think he is different. And our school is good at that, I think.

Confuzzled19 Fri 11-Jan-19 10:25:23

Thanks drspouse, I appreciate your advice. Dc will see family of same background on weekends. I think I would worry less sending dc to a more diverse school and totally appreciate that dc’s progress is very much dependent on us as a family.

OP’s posts: |
drspouse Fri 11-Jan-19 10:36:44

If no one tells him he is different, he wouldn't think he is different.
Surely (assuming your DS is BME) he can see this by looking in the mirror?

I'd be worried if my DD didn't think she looked different, and want her to see it as a positive, be proud of her heritage and know about it etc.

Oceanfive Fri 11-Jan-19 10:41:07

I would try to find somewhere more diverse personally.

user789653241 Fri 11-Jan-19 10:45:50

Why? He obviously knows he "looks" different, but it's only outside of him. And yes, he does appreciate the heritage but as a person, he doesn't see anything different from others. He is a child, who speaks English as a first language, and born in England, same as all his friends. He doesn't differentiate himself, and I don't see anything wrong with it.

TopicalUseOnly Fri 11-Jan-19 10:47:34

My kids are mixed (I'm white) and I must admit I did a quick headcount in every school we viewed to check there was a sizeable contingent of BME pupils.

I didn't want them to be in a tiny minority. A large part of this is down to my own memories of school, where the very few BME pupils definitely had a harder time - although this is obviously massively outdated.

Our area is very mixed, though. In a less mixed area then I guess I would go with a mix that broadly reflected the local demographic. If your own area is a bit more mixed than the school area, then could you involve the kids in local Scouts/Guides etc to help balance things out?

user789653241 Fri 11-Jan-19 10:56:20

And he does have positive image of himself, he had so many positive feed back over the years, people telling him how beautiful his hair is, how lovely his skin colour is, etc.
But these days, we get exposed to lots of different people through internet/social media, even you live in the area where 90+ people are white, you still get exposure to people who aren't white.
It does depend on school, but these days, most school are a lot better than the times us parents were a children.

Oceanfive Fri 11-Jan-19 10:58:08

It isn’t necessarily about an image that’s either positive or negative but one that doesn’t stand out. Even positive attention can become tiresome.

user789653241 Fri 11-Jan-19 11:12:17

Yes, I agree, Ocean. My ds doesn't stand out because of his heritage. He is always one of the group of kids. His friends doesn't seem to care what he looks like at all. I really like it that way, that the colour of skin doesn't seems to matter at all, not just to his friends, but to their parents too.

BubblesBuddy Fri 11-Jan-19 11:22:34

My DD was at prep school with one BME child in the class. Having become friends with her mum, there were no negatives at all. She was taught her culture and religion by her family and they kept in touch with their relatives abroad so her heritage was clear to her. They wanted the best education for their DD and, from what I could observe, they got the best of both worlds. Just seeing someone at school who appears to be the same as you, isn’t everything in life. Role models can come from many areas of influence, not just at school.

Oceanfive Fri 11-Jan-19 11:22:34

I think you have misunderstood what I am saying smile

To give a comparable situation, one of my friends lives very rurally with a very small school, and there are only six students in the reception class. Five are girls. I wouldn’t have sent my child to that school.

Standing out can be uncomfortable.

Oceanfive Fri 11-Jan-19 11:23:16

A prep school by it’s very nature excludes anybody who isn’t wealthy.

BubblesBuddy Fri 11-Jan-19 11:24:05

Well being the only boy would be a bigger problem in that example!

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