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1970s

Swann Report on Multiracial Education

Child writingFundamental change was needed to recognise that the problem facing the education system was not how to educate ethnic minority children, but how to educate all children for life in a multiracial and multicultural society, the Swann Committee on the education of ethnic minority children said in its report published in March 1985. Education needed to combat racism and attack inherited myths and stereotypes and the ways in which they were embodied in institutional practices, while 'multicultural understanding' had to permeate all aspects of a school's work. Only in this way, the Committee said, could schools begin to offer anything approaching the equality of opportunity for all pupils which must be the aspiration of the education system.

The report, Education for All, was the final report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Education of Children from Ethnic Minority Groups set up in 1979.

Science lessonThere was no doubt that West Indian children, as a group and on average, underachieved by comparision with their white peers as well as in terms of their potential. The Committee said that its investigations left it in 'no doubt' that IQ was 'not a significant factor'. A substantial part was to be explained as a result of racial prejudice on the part of society at large, especially in the areas of employment and housing. In addition, underachievement was due 'in large measure' to prejudice and discrimination bearing directly on children, both within the education system and outside it, although the Committee said that the evidence was inconclusive when it came to deciding which factors within the educational system were important.

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