Children were told to line up according to their skin colour as part of a primary school lesson – with one boy later picked on because he was said to be the ‘blackest’.
Teachers at the school in South-East London told a class of around 30 children to ‘organise themselves from the darkest to the lightest’. The year six children are aged between ten and 11 and school bosses said the exercise which took place last Wednesday helped them learn about ethnic diversity.
Oasis Community Learning defended the lesson, saying it was designed to prepare children for secondary school by encouraging them to talk about ‘ethnic diversity’.
A spokesman said: ‘Inclusion is our raison d’etre and we are very committed to equality. In this instance, it was about celebrated differences and saying it is OK to talk about them in a positive way but recognising we are all the same underneath.
The school’s website states that it ‘aspires to treat everyone inclusively and recognises the importance of a holistic approach to education’.
Its ‘vision and values statement’ says: ‘At Ryelands we aim for all our children to achieve their best in a safe and stimulating environment.
‘The Ryelands learning community also aims to develop and encourage mutual respect, self confidence, co-operation and self-motivation.
‘We encourage our children to be enthusiastic and independent learners who engage in the world around them with enquiring minds and compassionate hearts.’
As well as that, the school says that it aims to ‘foster respect, tolerance and love for others, regardless of race, gender, religion or difference, within a framework of equality of opportunity and fairness’.
Parents didn’t share the school’s teaching method; in fact, they were displeased, but the school is holding firm:
‘We fully support the teaching assistants that were involved but of course we are always willing to listen to feedback about how we do things in the future.’