The Mayor has been looking at Muslims in London and publishes this report today, just as Muslims are celebrating Eid ul-Fitr.
It makes interesting reading. As ever the Mayor draws the wrong conclusions though.
The report identifies a weakness in the level of educational achievement by this group and points out that attainment in English is a major handicap. This handicap is exacerbated by an unwillingness of some to speak English in the home.
I have noticed the same mistake being made by the newly-arrived Polish community in Ealing. If you don’t speak English at home your children will always be disadvantaged at school, this will feed through to low educational achievement and, in the end, relative poverty.
The Mayor’s prescriptions include:
- The DfES and local education authorities should work towards eliminating direct and indirect discriminatory practices by educational institutions.
- There needs to be Londonwide accesible and affordable interpretation services for people with a first language other than English.
- Local Education Authorities must work with communities to increase the proportion of Muslim teachers and Muslim school govenors in areas with significant Muslim communities.
My prescriptions would be:
- Hire more great teachers like Gerry Curran.
- Shut bad schools quickly and make sure investment goes into good schools. Muslims, like the rest of us, are quick to spot and use good schools.
- Provide free or subsidised English teaching to all new immigrants that need it.
- Extend the We are Londoners campaign to be a “Londoners speak English” and “Speak English at home” campaign.
The Mayor spends £100 million a year on advertising. It is a shame he can’t spend it doing something useful like making sure that London kids get the best start in life. One way to achieve that is for them to speak English as early as possible.