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PARTNERSHIP WITH PARENTS THE KEY TO TACKLING DISAFFECTION AMONG ETHNIC MINORITY PUPILS

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Strong partnerships between schools and ethnic minority communities ...
Strong partnerships between schools and ethnic minority communities

are needed to combat the disproportionately high rate of exclusions

among certain ethnic minority groups, schools minister Charles Clarke

said.

Speaking at a joint Children's Society and Runnymede Trust conference

on Inclusive Schools in London yesterday, Mr Clarke said:

'Children just get one chance at school, but every day thousands miss

out on their education because they are playing truant or because

they have been excluded. The fact that some ethnic minority pupils,

such as African-Caribbean children, are much more likely to be

excluded than the rest of the school population, is of particular

concern.

'This is not acceptable. All children must have the same

opportunities to succeed and fulfil their potential. That is why, as

part of our£500m programme for reducing truancy and

exclusions by one third by 2002, we are developing targeted mentoring

programmes to improve ethnic minority achievement.

'The involvement of parents is crucial and we know that ethnic

minority families give the highest possible priority to raising

educational standards. We are committed to promoting community

mentoring which provides children with positive role models and is

immensely important in strengthening the relationship between schools

and the local community. We have doubled the money in this year's

mentoring programme which specifically supports ethnic minority

communities from£40,000 to£80,000.

'We're not interested in token gestures but real improvements in

achievement for these pupils. The right policies can make a

difference. The extra teachers and teaching assistants supported

through our Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant, backed by£430m

over the next three years, will play a major role in helping us raise

achievement. And our network of study support centres - many based at

football clubs - are helping to switch children back on to learning

where pupils have lost motivation in schooling.

'The government is making sure it is meeting the needs of a range of

children at particular risk of disaffection. My department is working

closely with the department of health to ensure local authorities

ensure more children leave care with qualifications. We have made a

video aimed at encouraging better attendance at school for gypsy and

traveller children, and are encouraging schools to make sure they

have someone on hand to support young carers.

'Conferences like these are invaluable in identifying and

disseminating what works best. We very much welcome the contribution

of groups such as the Children's Society and Runnymede Trust to

disseminate strategies which can raise the educational attainment of

disaffected children.'

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