London has become divided into ethnic ghettoes that are ‘sleepwalking towards Johannesburg’ under apartheid, according to a leading independent school head teacher.
David Levin, head of City of London School for boys, has spoken of his ‘increasing alarm’ at the way communities in London are split along race lines, with youngsters of different ethnicity rarely or never mixing and the inevitable tensions that causes.
At one school, Stepney Green Maths and Computing College, in Tower Hamlets, East London, 97 per cent of pupils are Bangladeshi.
And at another, in Peckham, South London, pupils are ‘overwhelmingly’ West African.
South African Mr Levin, whose school routinely tops GCSE and A-level league tables, suggested the worsening situation could lead to racial tension as people ‘fear those they do not know’.
He said: ‘I think London is sleepwalking towards Johannesburg – the ghettoisation of the community. It means they are not mixing with people from other faiths, different races and different socio-economic backgrounds.
‘One of the things I have learned pre and post – particularly post – apartheid is that your imagination is much stronger than the reality.
‘You may not like someone, but if you know them then you do not fear them.’
He claimed there are parts of London where ethnic minority youngsters never leave their council estate let alone their borough. He called on private schools to send mentors and teachers into the ‘ghettoes’ to ensure that disadvantaged pupils mix with youngsters of ‘different races and socio-economic backgrounds’.
Mr Levin, whose school has pupils from 41 countries, has set up outreach projects with some schools, such as Stepney Green, to teach maths and science.
City of London also offers scholarships to talented pupils.
Children from white families are in the minority in both Birmingham and Leicester, as well as most London boroughs.
Stepney Green, a boys’ school, has almost 900 pupils aged 11 to 16. It was rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted this year. Despite being in a deprived part of London, some 82 per cent of its pupils got A* to C in English and maths GCSE in 2010.
Mr Levin, who is vice-chairman of the association of leading independent schools, the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, was speaking yesterday at its annual conference.
He is leading an initiative to encourage private primary schools to help sponsor academies.
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