Thursday, May 22, 2008

In a British town, more local primary schools than ever are now divided along racial lines

New figures reveal that Oldham appears to be moving backwards in its efforts to improve community cohesion among the borough’s youngest citizens. The statistics obtained by the Advertiser show that more local primary schools than ever are now divided along racial lines – with a total of seven schools made up entirely of children from ethnic backgrounds, and many more dominated by pupils of either white or Asian heritage. It means thousands of children are growing up having little contact with children from different ethnic backgrounds. The figures re-ignite the debate about what needs to be done to reverse racial division in our community – a key cause of previous unrest. David Ritchie’s 2002 report into past disturbances found that in 17 borough primary schools ethnic minority children made up 80% of pupils – and in 13 of these it was at least 90%. In six secondary schools, ethnic minority children accounted for less than 5% of the school population, while in two others they were mainly youngsters from ethnic backgrounds. Today, primary schools including Alexandra Park, Burnley Brow, Horton Mill Infant, Nursery and Junior, Westwood, Greenhill Primary, Werneth Infant and Nursery and St Hilda’s C.E do not have a single white pupil on the roll. Secondary schools continue to slide towards monoculturalism with, as one example, 98.5% of Grange’s pupils from Bangladeshi, Pakistani or Indian heritage – in the 80s this figure was around 10%. Meanwhile Kaskenmoor, has an intake that is 93% white and Blue Coat also has very few students from ethnic backgrounds. In fact, only St Augustine of Canterbury RC School is representative of Oldham’s wider ethnic picture with 24% of its students of ethnic background. Experts blame the increase of racially segregated schools on a "white flight" phenomenon, where ethnic minorities have moved into a district and white people have moved out.

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