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Black parents urged to help improve children’s learning

IN IT TOGETHER: Dr. Dwain Neil (fifth from left) stands with Harrow East MP Bob Blackman  (third from left), Dr June Alexis, the former head teacher of John Loughborough School (fourth from left), the Royal Navy’s Lt Cmdr Micky Norford (left), Mavis Stewart, president of the Association of Jamaicans (UK) (second from left), Monica White, manager of Chestnuts Community and Arts Centre (sixth from right) and the Royal Navy’s Lt. Gill Niblock.

BLACK PARENTS are being urged to support an initiative aimed at getting parents to meet and share ideas of how they can help boost their children’s learning and life chances.

The Smart Children Club scheme, developed by black professional men’s network the Reach Society, was launched in January, with backing from community leaders, local politicians and the Royal Navy.

Dr. Dwain Neil, from the Reach Society, told The Voice: “We encourage parents to meet, discuss topics around education, share experiences, identify things that work and they have the choice to decide whether they use it with their children. We believe parents will meet with each other, they will talk and they will take action.”

The scheme is designed to urge parents to pool their knowledge and work together to help black children develop better skills in areas such as reading and mathematics.

Neil said at launch: “Parents who belong to the club will help their child excel because it’s their local opportunity to encourage each other, to share their knowledge of good habits that help their children to develop a love of reading and comfort with numbers before going to school.


“It is their chance to learn from each other what works well when parenting and to grow in confidence in their natural role as the first teachers of their children.”

Neil, whose organisation also developed a practical guide on how to set up the Smart Children Clubs, added: “All of our experience tells us that parents who care about their children are always on the look out for things that will help their children do better.”

Neil, a father of three, said parents could start clubs with their own network of family and friends and then later invite others to share ideas. He said: “Our ambition is that the more people do that, the more people will realise they can help themselves. They have a lot of knowledge that they can share which can help their children. There are a lot of things that parents know individually and collectively.”


The scheme’s patron is one of the country’s most prominent black Britons, Lord Herman Ouseley. Dr. Rob Berkeley, director of equalities charity, the Runnymede Trust and Dr. June Alexis, education consultant and the former head teacher of John Loughborough School in Tottenham, north London, are also giving their support.

Alexis said: “ I can tell from my experience as a head teacher that Smart Children Clubs have the potential to be of great benefit to African Caribbean parents. They will help parents to work together on common educational issues, and become more pro-active in supporting their children's educational development. As a result, their children will become confident learners and be able to deal with the emotional and challenging issues they face at school.”

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