1. For growth of knowledge of a child the school is only the way of light the real masters are his or her parents.

  2. Comment submitted by Julia Walton, press and pr officer, Bristol City Council on behalf of Annie Hudson, Strategic Director for Children, Young People and Skills, Bristol City Council

    I was very interested to read this article and support many of the points made, including the importance of everyone working together to make sure that all Somali children and young people are given the chance to achieve their very best. I also support the point made about the very important role of parents in furthering their children’s achievements by taking an active role in school life.

    As director for children, young people and skills in Bristol City Council I was very concerned to read about some of the concerns of parents interviewed for your blog. I cannot agree that most schools attended by Somali children are ‘failure factories’ and that Somali staff employed are ‘token’.

    Bristol City Council and all city schools are very resolved to deliver an education service that supports the talents and capabilities of all children. I know that there is a great deal of positive and effective work going on in our schools to support Somali children to achieve well though we also know that there is much more to be done.

    Last year we commissioned an independent report to examine the impact of growing ethnic minority communities on education services in Bristol and produced a detailed action plan in response. This was called ‘Pupil population change and community cohesion: impact and policy implications for the education service in Bristol’ by the Institute for Community Cohesion and can be found at http://www.bristol-cyps.org.uk.

    Our response to the report included ongoing work on supporting black and ethnic minority (BME) staff who wish to become school leaders, a programme to actively recruit school governors from BME backgrounds, council support for the Supplementary Schools Forum in the city and direct commissioning of individual supplementary schools and parent support programmes to strengthen the role of parents in children’s learning. These initiatives are all very relevant to Somali children and to Somali parents who want to be actively involved in their children’s education.

    In Bristol there are a few teaching staff from a Somali background and we need to increase this number. There is also a growing band of teaching assistants (10), many of whom are being supported to become qualified teachers. They are not ‘tokens’ but genuine and passionate educators who are fully qualified to support all children’s learning.

    Somali parents who want to get involved further with school-related issues can do this through the Somali parents network. It is currently based at Fairfield school but meetings are also held at children’s centres and primary schools. For more information contact Charlie Mee at Fairfield School or Hadassah Radway on 9031269.

    As stated in the article, it is very important that we have more Somali parents involved with their school as governors. To find out more about becoming a governor contact the Governor Development Service on 9031396.

    Finally any allegations of racism in our schools are taken very seriously. Each school has very clear procedures for dealing with allegation and I would encourage reporting of incidents to ensure that this is issue is tackled at a senior level. We cannot and will not be complacent about the work that we need to do, but I do want to reassure Somali children, young people and parents/carers that the council and Bristol’s schools are wholly committed to making sure that Somali children have a first rate education.

    Annie Hudson
    Strategic Director
    Children, Young People and Skills

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