You may have seen the recent media headlines regarding the comments of Mr Levin, the headmaster of City of London Boys School. At the recent Headmasters’ and Headteachers’ Conference he said he was ‘alarmed at the way London is divided up into ghettos’ and ‘sleepwalking’ towards apartheid, where school children are increasingly educated only amongst pupils of their own ethnicity. He used Stepney Green Maths and Commuting and Science College as an example of such a school.
I was extremely concerned by Mr Levin’s words. I know he has a well-regarded reputation within the education sector and I believe he shares my desire for an excellent education for all our young people. However I feel his words were both inflammatory and focused on the wrong target.
Firstly this is not a community that has chosen to segregate itself. It is a community that has limited choices, in terms of where they live and where they can attend school.
I am most concerned about the government cuts further limiting the choices of communities. This is particularly the case with the cuts to housing benefits, which has a danger of dividing London and our borough further along the lines of income.
This is why I am committed to building more social housing across the borough and maintaining investment in the Building Schools for the Future programme.
Mr Levin’s concern would be better directed at those who do have the luxury of choice in terms of where they live and where to send their children to school.
Whilst choices for many of our residents are limited, our pupils are making the most of their education as highlighted by our excellent results – provisional results show that this year our pupils achieved their best ever GCSE grades, with 62 per cent achieving at least five A* to C passes including English and Maths. Furthermore, we as an authority take community cohesion very seriously and are working with schools to give our pupils the chance to explore a wide range of experiences.
I welcome Mr Levin to continue his work in Tower Hamlets and invite him to give opportunities for all our pupils to mix with pupils at his school.
On a final note – our excellent results have not gone unnoticed – see here for an interesting article by Estelle Morris. Her comments highlighting that when it comes to education, the proof is in the pudding, would have been well headed by Mr Levin.