On 13th May 2013, Diane Abbott MP put out a call to the 10th London Schools and the Black Child (LSBC) Conference: “Black Children & Education: After Gove, where next?”.
For the past 13 years, the Communities Empowerment Network (CEN) has been campaigning for equality and justice in schooling and education and against the practice of excluding a disproportionate number of African heritage children.
Diane Abbott has demonstrated a passion for schooling and education over very many years, especially on account of the schooling experiences of children of African heritage. In 1999, she held two conferences in her constituency the London Borough of Hackney on ‘Hackney Schools and the Black Child’. In 2000, the third of these was held which, like the previous two, attracted some 400-500 people. In 2002, Abbott joined forces with the newly elected London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, and started the London Schools and the Black Child conferences which ran annually until 2009.
Those conferences proved very popular with African parents, teachers and community activists, some 2000-2,500 of whom attended most years. However, although the focus of the conference was schooling and the ‘black child’, fewer than 50 black school children attended in any one year. The conferences generated a great deal of heat and excitement, but typically very little action. They allowed for no resolutions or demands to be put to government and each succeeding conference failed to focus upon whatever action those who attended in the preceding year may have taken in their communities in response to the issues debated.
Meanwhile, the Labour government of the day continued to pass laws, whittle away rights and allow schooling practices which were as detrimental to ‘the Black child’ as anything the Conservative administration had done prior to the Labour victory at the polls in 1997. Yet, year on year, the Education (or Schools) Minister would attend Diane’s conference to tell ‘the black community’ what the government was doing to raise standards and tackle the endemic underachievement of African Caribbean children in the schooling system.
Diane Abbott intends that this conference would address the question: “Black Children & Education: After Gove, where next?”. Some of us might think it even more pertinent to ask the question: “‘Before Gove, what?“. Read the rest of this entry →