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‘Churches must establish free schools’

EXPERIENCE: Dr June Alexis

A LEADING education consultant and former head teacher has urged the UK’s black churches to play a more pivotal role in ensuring the educational needs of their congregation’s children are adequately met.

Dr June Alexis made the call while delivering a recent lecture at the annual The Interrupted Journey Part IX at Copland Community School in Wembley, north London.

The event, hosted by jazz musician Lascelles James, sought to promote academic excellence among ethnic minority children.

During her presentation, Why Black Children are Still Failing; Are Parents, Teachers and the Government Simply Letting Them Down?, Dr Alexis pointed out that mainstream educators continue to cling to negative perceptions of black children, despite evidence which indicates that such opinions are baseless.

She warned that the true potential of several generations was being stifled as a result.

CONTENT

Dr Alexis, who is the author of several books on education, proposed that churches go further than satisfying spiritual and moral needs, by setting up free schools to deliver content that inspires and empowers African and Caribbean pupils.

She highlighted that black churches not only had the financial resources, but were also full of education professionals such as current and former head teachers, classroom teachers, curriculum designers, guidance counsellors, pastoral support experts, social workers, psychologists and financial advisers.

Referring to the persistent disproportional numbers of black pupils being excluded, Dr Alexis said: “A key contributing factor is that these children are not being challenged enough in the classroom to succeed.

“Therefore, their social, emotional and psychological needs are not being met because the prevailing negative stereotyping is tainting the teachers’ ability to deal with ethnic minority children effectively.”

The keynote speaker also took the opportunity to plead with parents to demonstrate positive leadership at home, and encouraged parents to become aware of their children’s gift of intelligence to reinforce their self-esteem.

Regular dialogue with teachers was also important, she said, to assess children’s academic strengths and weaknesses.

“But, the exchange should not stop there,” she added. “You must demand to know what your children need to do to improve.”

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