James Slack, Daily Mail (London), September 23, 2010
Black children fail at school because they do not concentrate, not because they are the victims of ‘institutional racism’, a leading black academic claims today.
Tony Sewell, the son of Caribbean migrants, attacks the view that black pupils are held back by teachers who see them as ‘miniature gangster rappers’.
The former teacher, who runs an educational charity for black children, instead blames poor parenting and the youngsters’ own lax attitude.
In a blistering article for the Left-of-centre magazine Prospect, Dr Sewell says that while it was once true that black pupils were held back by racism, ‘times have changed’.
He writes: ‘What we now see in schools is children undermined by poor parenting, peer-group pressure and an inability to be responsible for their own behaviour.
‘They are not subjects of institutional racism.
‘They have failed their GCSEs because they did not do the home-work, did not pay attention and were disrespectful to their teachers.
‘Instead of challenging our children, we have given them the discourse of the victim–a sense that the world is against them and they cannot succeed.’
The view that black children are being held back by racism was reinforced by the last Labour government.
Labour leadership hopeful Diane Abbott has said that ‘black boys do not have to be too long out of disposable nappies for some teachers to see them as a miniature gangster rappers’.
Mr Sewell–director of the Generating Genius charity and a consultant at Reading University–says that Miss Abbott and researchers imply that white teachers have low expectations of black boys and this is partly why they underachieve.
He admits evidence proves that ‘African-Caribbean boys are still at the bottom of the league table for GCSEs’.
They start school at roughly same level as other pupils, but then fall further and further behind their peers.
However, he also writes: ‘I believe black underachievement is due to the low expectations of school leaders, who do not want to be seen as racist and who position black boys as victims.’
In 2008, the Department for Education reported that only 27 per cent of black boys achieve five or more A*-C GCSE grades.
African-Caribbean boys are also the group most likely to be excluded from school