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Celebrating Black History Month with: Coral Bentley

"Anyone delivering educational support needs to look beyond stereotypes and focus on the child in question."

Coral Bentley, Senior College Support worker and parent to an autistic son

I would regularly travel to London to attend conferences on ‘London Schools and the Black Child’ where Diane Abbott MP and other speakers would be addressing problems within the education system affecting black pupils (particularly boys). Black students are more likely to be excluded than their white counterparts. 

"I felt the need to surround myself with other parents facing similar experiences to me. I gained inspiration and also discovered some potential solutions."

I had not seen my son smile the way he did for a long time after he heard the good news. This was the first time he felt empowered, this was the first time he was taught how to navigate his autism.

While my son was at the school, I arranged his work experience for him at an aviation facility. My son was able to go on a short haul-flights. He was being included, whereas before he was excluded from activities as he was considered a ‘risk’. My son passed his GCSEs and went on to college and successfully completed a BTEC course. The battle was hard but worth it, we got through it all in the end.

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Coral's son doing work experience

Every life matters. However, BAME people have not been treated fairly historically in the education system. This needs to be recognised in order to make the necessary changes. In relation to special needs for the BAME community I feel the support is both lacking and extremely slow. In my opinion, people in the education system, policy makers, governors and anyone delivering educational support needs to look beyond stereotypes and preconceptions and focus on the child in question.

"In my opinion, people in the education system, policy makers, governors and anyone delivering educational support needs to look beyond stereotypes and preconceptions and focus on the child in question."