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Education network launched for parents of black children

ON A MISSION: Mother-of-four Phinnah Ikeji wants to galvanise black parents

A WEBSITE that aims to empower black parents to take control of their children’s education has been launched in response to decades of under-performance.

Parents of Black UK Children (PBUK) was founded by mother-of-four Phinnah Ikeji to function as a platform to share information and swap tips on boosting success in education among black students.

It followed a feature published in The Voice in January which asked why pupils of African and Caribbean descent were failing to meet the national average at GCSE.

Figures from 2011/12 revealed that only 54.6 per cent of all black children achieved five or more A-C grade GCSEs, including maths and English, compared to the 58.8 per cent benchmark.

A further analysis of these figures showed that African pupils performed noticeably better than their Caribbean counterparts, at 58 per cent and 49.8 per cent respectively.

“After reading the school debate and coming face-to-face with the results of the last five years, I got fired up,” said Ikeji, of Dagenham, Essex.

“We have got to come together and do something about closing the gaps. Quite frankly, it’s embarrassing.”

As well as her full-time job as a chartered accountant, Ikeji is now managing the organisation’s website and Facebook group.

Already the response has been positive. A feature posted on the introduction of the Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPAG) Test for Year 6 pupils received hundreds of views in only a few hours.

“All the information is in one place and that makes it easier for parents to keep up-to-date with what is happening,” she explained.

CHALLENGE

“Some parents don’t have a clue what’s going on. For example, do they know what set their child is in? If your child is in a lower set, your challenge should be to work with the school to get them into a higher set.

Ikeji stressed: “If parents are not concerned, the teachers may just leave them there and that’s it. And when they get to GCSE level they will be entered into exams where the highest grade they can get is a C.”

Importantly however, Ikeji said the success of the network depended on parents and carers getting involved.

“When parents hear from other parents, it is encouraging. We’re all in this together. If parents get on board and start motivating our children, they will do better. No child wants to be over-pushed, but they do respond to paying an interest in what they’re doing. Sometimes what happens is because this is the ‘western world’, parents think it’s ok to leave education to the teachers. Or because of work commitments, parents are genuinely tired. But it is critical to stay as involved as possible no matter how old their child is.”

GAP

The ultimate aim of PBUK is to narrow the gap between black children and top performing students.

Ikeji said: “I will be satisfied if we see an improvement in the annual GCSE results. I have a strong passion for children, especially our black children. I want to make a difference.”

To get involved, visit www.parentsofblackukpupils.co.uk

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