Mossbourne Community Academy, at which chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw made his mark as headmaster until he left in 2011, gave Christy Kulz of Goldsmiths College access to carry out research for a doctoral thesis.
In the paper Dr Kulz quotes a parent as claiming that middle-class white students deal marijuana at the school, which opened in 2004. A pupil says of a group of mostly white middle-class girls: “All they do is take drugs and have sex.”
A white middle-class parent is quoted saying “I certainly know that there is quite widespread use of spliff at Mossbourne, not at the school, but out of school.
“I think they sell it at the school and from what I am told – and this is hearsay – it is the white middle-class kids who are selling it”.
Teachers are said to get angry with black boys more quickly than with other pupils. Dr Kulz says it is a “phenomenon readily visible” that most students sitting outside teacher offices are “black boys”.
Mossbourne, she says in her summary, has become a “haven for Hackney’s middle classes… it actively seeks out those who already have [what] it requires to excel… middle-class parents can… secure preferential treatment and address the insecurities of class reproduction.
“…Mossbourne… provides an oasis for middle-class colonisation… [Mossbourne] draws on wider popular discourses of the pram-pushing ‘chav’ or the black, hooded gangster to portray ‘urban children’ and their families as regressive blocks to economic prosperity.
“…it is not the dirty white working-class who are obstructing modernity’s melting pot, but a privileged white, middle-class who are drawing boundaries between themselves and their ethnic and classed others.”
Mossbourne principal Peter Hughes has declined Loving Dalston’s requests to comment. His personal assistant, Anne O’Sullivan, denies that the Hackney school seeks out pupils who already have what it takes to excel.
She says: “All our students come via the Learning Trust [now run by Hackney council, the local authority]. The local authority selects the students – we don’t.
“We work closely with our feeder schools in Hackney and we try our best to imbue them with the Mossbourne ethos.”
Asked to comment on the thesis, Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP Diane Abbott says: “It describes Mossbourne as ‘an oasis of middle-class colonisation’.
“Presumably that refers to the academic rigour, disciplined behaviour and ambition that Mossbourne prides itself on. But these things are equally valued by working-class Hackney residents, black and white.
“It is patronising to assume that only the middle classes care about these things. Mossbourne remains the most over-subscribed school in Hackney.”
David Altheer 141014
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