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Trevor Phillips: Britain sleepwalking into educational segregation

11 replies

Caligula · 22/09/2005 13:29


I'm really surprised that Trevor Phillips has been so roundly criticised for making these comments. Perhaps I haven't read this report carefully enough, but do people find his remarks "offensive"?

OP posts:
speedymama · 22/09/2005 14:22

As a black person, I'm confused by Trevor Phillips. Earlier this year he said that black boys should be segregated at school to try and combat their perceived lack of achievement at school. He is now saying that the country is becoming too segregated.

When my parents came to the UK from Jamaica in the 60's, they chose to live in an area based on the house they found and liked. It just so happens that other West Indian families were moving to that area also and now it is a mixed area (white, black and asian) and there are many mixed race relationships. Interestingly, the initial white neighbours sold up as soon as my family moved in.

We hear about Polish, Australian, New Zealander, South African, American,Russian etc expats but nobody has a problem with these immigrants because they are largely white. It's always the non-white immigrants that bear the brunt of these naval- gazing, patronising, observations. If white immigrants choose to live in close proximity to each other, would these areas be labelled ghettos also? There are large Jewish communities in London, they are mainly white but I've never heard them referred to as ghettos.

I've no doubt that Trevor Phillips has raised some interesting points which, in the ideal world, would trigger open, constructive and honest debate but I see any discussion on this becoming a polemic, mud-slinging affair and such, I will just tune out and let individuals decide for themselves who they want to be friends/acquainted with. As for me, I have friends of all races and we see each other as individuals. My DH is white and we will raise our twin sons to define themselves as individuals that embrace both our heritages.

As an aside, I often wonder if people against immigration to this contry are also against the thousands of British immigrants living in other countries?

muminlondon · 22/09/2005 16:13

I'm not totally against his views but I also distrust him. I think he goes for attention-seeking headlines because he's a journalist. He went to an exclusive boarding school and has sent all his daughters to expensive private schools. He's bright, but I don't think he's exceptionally qualified to talk about state education and not in a position to point a finger at parents for choosing one school over another (a bit like Diane Abott sending her kids to private schools). He's very much a new Labour man (Peter Mandelson was best man at his wedding).

Maybe his ideas are about making private schools take quotas of non-fee paying pupils, or abolishing faith schools? That would make a difference and presumably that's what he knows about. I think where there's segregation, and where it's a disadvantage, it's class-based. Social engineering has never been particularly successful in the past (most kids still need to walk to their local school).

QueenOfQuotes · 22/09/2005 16:17

I had to chuckle at the comment

"Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris said it was "sheer lunacy" that the government was establishing more faith schools, which would segregate children on the grounds of religion and "effectively therefore their race".

effectively therefore their race?? Well ours is a (very) CoE school, but kids of all races attend it....

muminlondon · 22/09/2005 16:29

I don't agree with faith schools, or at the very least I don't think they should discriminate or select on the basis of religion (ironically), but it's so variable. Where I live now a fairly mediocre school is CofE and half the places are open. A few miles away a Catholic school requires you to go to a Catholic church at least twice a month but because it has fantastic results it pulls in children from miles away and gets away with its much more rigid selection criteria (if you're not religious at all you haven't a chance).

In the town where I grew up, my very ordinary non-faith state school now has 85% pupils with English as a second language whereas the local state CofE school has only 9% 'Asian' pupils.

So I think it is an issue. And I feel discriminated from faith schools anyway because I haven't been to church since I was 11.

muminlondon · 22/09/2005 16:32

I meant by 'half the places are open' i.e. half of the places reserved for applications regardless of religion or non-religion. It seems a glaring example of discrimination and is very inconsistent that the Catholic school doesn't have a quota of 'open' places. What's it like in other schools?

QueenOfQuotes · 22/09/2005 17:21

I think most Catholic schools are like that (which I think is wrong). Most of the CoE schools I've come across are much more 'open' - and while a certain number do come from a church background, a lot aren't - and I know there's a least one child that definitely ISN'T Christian at the school (180 pupils) as I know his mum and they're Ba'hai.

Amazingly this year everyone that wanted reception places for their child at this school (ie the ones who put it first on their list) got places. As one of the nurseries in town told parents "not to bother" trying to get into St.XXX school as it was so over subscribed.....consequently they didn't and until the summer holidays were actually UNDER subscribed by 4 places (of which 3 were filled my triplets LOL).

It's one of 2 excellent infant/primary schools in the town, both of which were highly praised by Ofsted and landed a place of their "outstanding schools" list (or whatever it's called). The other school is in the "very" posh part of town and was massively oversubscribed (as per usual) - mainly because it's the only primary school on that side of town - serves a massive area, and the other school which some of the homes fall into the catchment for is cr*p (to put it politely).

anorak · 22/09/2005 17:41

It's only natural that a large number of immigrants are going to want to live near people of the same background. Life can be quite lonely otherwise. We can't tell people where to live, all we can do is try to promote racial harmony so people will be happy wherever they live.

Milliways · 22/09/2005 18:06

Just listening to LBC. They said "Predominately white schools should be forced to take more ethnic pupils".

How would that go down in schools where you have to fight to get in anyway? We moved to get into this catchment. Isn't it racially prejudiced against any child to grant/not him a place due to how many or a certain group had already been given a place?

edam · 22/09/2005 18:32

No idea how you'd work out the details, but he's got a point. Segregation by religion in schools hasn't really helped Northern Ireland. You have to have the opportunity to know other people who are different from you, or there's a risk you will grow up seeing them as the 'other' and believing all sorts of myths about them.

It's harder to be racist (although not impossible) if you know people of a different race to yourself. My aunt used to live on a council estate with a large Carribean population and a large African population. Both groups of adults would talk to white people but Africans wouldn't talk to Carribeans - said things like Carribeans were 'dirty' and 'uneducated'. A hang-over from slavery, I think, sadly. (Frankly I've never known a Carribean mother of that generation who wasn't fanatically houseproud).

The kids were less prejudiced because they all went to school together.

muminlondon · 22/09/2005 20:28

He's right that it isn't healthy to have segregated schools, and school is probably the only place where children could mix with people from other cultures (religion if not class).

I also think the curriculum is so pressurised that there isn't the time for teachers to discuss different religions or cultures with their class. So if there is extremism brewing, it's not being challenged, and/or people don't know the history or religion to challenge it.

But TP just doesn't seem to have come up with any worthwhile solutions - it wasn't him who mentioned faith schools or selection generally. He doesn't seem to know enough about education generally. Perhaps he just wants to make a splash without appearing to contradict Tony Blair or Ruth Kelly. A bit frustrating all round because it's just hot air and nothing is going to change.

yingers74 · 22/09/2005 21:21

I think Trevor Philips is going over the top, there is a problem but I don't think it is as bad as he makes out and I have yet to hear any real solutions from him. People of different races do mix, just look at this website and the number of mixed race marriages (inc my own) that there are around now. I am not religious so also don't agree with the extension of religious schools of any sort.

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