Monday, May 28, 2007

Race and schooling

I'm just back from a long weekend attending a friend's wedding in Poland - tips on how to survive to come later - and while browsing Conservative Home, I notice a report on the BBC saying that David Willetts is proposing a policy that will allow schools to choose their pupils on the basis of race. (The report adds that "Government figures in the Observer show some schools in England have a pupil majority from one ethnic group." - really and truly it's time the BBC got some decent editors - the statement taken literally is hardly a shock as England has a majority from one ethnic group - white English).

Comments about the BBC aside, I would strongly urge the party not to go down this line. My wife is Singaporean, which means that my son is of mixed race. I do not want him to be defined in terms of his race, but simply in terms of him being what he is - a British citizen, who I hope will grow up to be a credit to this country. I want him to be given the education he deserves - not because he's mixed race to suit some equality or integration, but because it's his birth right as an Englishman. The first step to ensuring that he feels different is to draw attention to his "difference". So please - lets not go down that road.

(Just to note - the boy actually started walking more than a step over the weekend - including a fairly good walk during the wedding party itself. Being a Polish wedding, he was actually walking better and falling over less than some of the adults at the end of evening!)


Snuffleupagus said...

The picture you paint is an ideal one and is very far from the reality of most people in Britain who are not white. Your son will have issues, but few, because of his parentage and because I presume, he is not clearly of a different race by sight.

Closing our eyes to race and sticking our heads in the sand is not the way forward. Discussing difference and allowing for such discourse is the only way.

I would be interested to hear what you might think of the stories on my blog.

Thomas B said...

Thank you for your comment - I have glanced briefly at your blog and it's certainly something I shall return to.

With regard to the different race by sight - I am not convinced. At the Polish wedding I mentioned, one of the bride's brothers had married a Chinese girl and it was incredibly obvious which child in the room belonged to her.

I was aware that one flaw in my argument was that I was writing it from the relatively comfortable situation that is Brentwood, where we aren't faced with the same issues that apply in the inner cities.

Having said all that, I am very nervous about policies that start to categorise people on grounds of race. I do agreee though it is not a desirable situation to have schools in areas with a huge ethnic mix effectively segregating the various ethnic groups (again, this won't apply in plenty of parts of the country - such as Brentwood or the leafy Cotswolds identified on your blog where there is already an overwhelming majority of one ethnic group).

One final point - the Telegraph carried a story last year suggesting that when it came to school performance, it was actually white working class boys that performed worst in terms of GCSE results - 17% within that category obtaining 5 GCSEs as opposed to 19% of black boys. Personally I regard a 2% margin as insignificant, which leads me to conclude the issue is far more to to with disadvantage than it is to do with race.

Bruce Standing said...

Join the Chinese Liberal Democrats at
My wife is Malaysian Chinese, and I have just joined.

English Rose said...

Hi I just wanted you to know that I have a chinese aunt and she is the most wonderful person I know. I respect people who come here and want to be like us. These are the people I don't see any colour with, it's the ones who come here and cause trouble and want to change things I disaprove of. I taught my aunt english and I love her so much she is one of my best friends. But you would know that about me by what the papers have said etc. But then we know that they lie.
Anyone will see this with your son I am sure he has friends etc and will get on. take care x