Monday, 11 October 2010

"How Fair is Britain?" asks a EHRC report

Co-incidentally following on from my previous post, I saw this article in the Observer yesterday - it was about a report due to be published today by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on fairness in Britain and especially one chapter about an education system in 2010 that is "deeply divided". 

The piece, by Anushka Asthana, summarises that "the inequalities emerge at nursery, carry on into primary school and secondary education, and then university and beyond. Some relate to race, others to poverty, disability and the problems experienced by Britain's boys" - it shows how these "remain crucial factors in determining how British pupils succeed at school - and beyond".

The article goes on:

"Once it was a story of black and white, in which racial discrimination was a major driving force. But in tomorrow's report, the story of ethnicity is a complicated one – in which poor black boys underachieve, as do those from Irish Traveller families, but poor Chinese girls overachieve"


Commenting on a headteacher who suggests that the part of the problem is that teachers worry about being accused of racism, "Rob Berkeley, director of the Runnymede Trust, a leading race equality think tank, said [...] "My worry is the race to say that racial discrimination is never a problem," he said. But tomorrow's report makes clear that ethnicity still matters – even if you control the factor of class, he added. So it is a little early to declare "mission accomplished".

I haven't read this EHRC report itself, but this article made me think about the points of the 'Rethinking Race" writers (which I wrote about yesterday, 'Rethinking Black History Month?') because it revisits some of the same arguments. The "story of ethnicity" is certainly complicated and we do need to listen to anyone who wants to help (i.e. the headteacher above) but it seems that Rob Berkeley of Runnymede comes to pretty much the same conclusion as I did in that piece.

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