Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence


48.  Memorandum submitted by Janice Williams, consultant working with a Lone Parent Project in Camden for the past six years, Parent Governor of a Haringey School

  This topic has come up frequently in my multi-ethnic groups at the Parentpack project. Here are the main points made to me by the Black parents I have worked with about their sons:

    —  Teachers in school don't like to challenge black boys about their behaviour perhaps through fear, so they get away with worse behaviour than white kids. There is a real fear among teachers and other professionals of being branded racist if you challenge a black kid. Parents are worried by this, not necessarily because of any racism but because poor behaviour is expected and tolerated from black boys. This has three major effects:

        1.  Their academic performance is low because they are never expected or made to work hard. Exam success does not come without work.

        2.  Because poor and disruptive behaviour is expected, tolerated and accepted, the boys do not learn to control it.

        3.  This in turn leads to low self-esteem and low self-expectations. By the time they have been in school a few years they do not believe they can do any better.

        4.  This makes it all the harder for the parent at home to demand good behaviour. These kids may come from lone parent families where Mum may be the only person trying to make her son behave. This is a tough job under any circumstances, multiply harder when the rest of the world does not attempt to help. There may be several children in the family—Mum does all she can, but feels like King Canute trying to stop the tide.

    —  The boy culture—some black youths feel that to be a man is to disrespect women and that you are not a man if you allow yourself to be controlled by them. This makes life doubly difficult for female teachers who can get much worse behaviour to deal with than the male teachers do. Also for mothers.

    —  There is a real and justifiable fear of violence among teachers.

    —  Teachers are not taught how to be firm and respectful with children, to use their tone of voice and body language to best effect. They often (I personally have seen this in school) plead with children to behave or treat them insultingly, neither of which gains them respect.

    —  The net result is a situation for black boys where they are cut off from achievement in school, have little contact with good male role models who might help them achieve out of school and are left solely with the arena of competitive misbehaviour in which to try to excel.

    —  The home culture of corporal punishment—this is the norm in many black households and leads to a situation where children are accustomed only to respond to the threat of violence. This is of course not used by teachers, hence kids do not behave in school.

March 2006





 
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