Conference Press Release



Council Pledge to Muslim Parents


At a conference organised by the High Wycombe Muslim Parents Association, held at Green Street Community centre on October 28 and attended by a hundred delegates, Cabinet Member for Schools, Marion Clayton, pledged that Bucks County Council would ‘ close the gap’ in achievement between Muslim children and the county’s white children. Cllr Clayton was speaking as part of a programme that featured Schools Minister Diana Johnson MP as keynote speaker. Chairman of the MPA, Rafiq Raja, said ‘It is a landmark occasion to get a government Minister to come to a local conference. It shows how important this issue is. Mrs. Clayton’s pledge will transform children’s lives – we now need to know how it is to be done – and when.’

The conference focus was on tackling underachievement; its aim was not only to draw attention to the gap in attainment levels between white children and those from the Black and Minority Ethnic communities, but also to celebrate the outstanding achievements of local young adults from the Muslim community.  Diana Johnson described the substantial investment that the Department for Children, Schools and Families is making in raising the achievement of BME students. She also spoke of the Pupil Guarantee and the one-to-one support that will be given to students who are not reaching high enough standards. She praised the efforts of the MPA and said that the conference showed how much Muslim parents care about their children’s education. ‘Your passion and your proactive attitude to your children’s education is an example that I hope other parents will follow’.


Other speakers focused on how far there was still to go until the achievement gap is closed. Dr Katy Simmons, Chair of Governors at the Cressex School, said that progress on closing the gap had been too slow and needed focused resources, community involvement and continued challenge to elected members. She praised the investment made at national level to raise achievement in youngsters from less well off homes, in particular the Building Schools for the Future programme, which was creating a brand new school for students in High Wycombe. Other speakers included Yvette Thomas, Policy and Equalities Manager at Bucks County Council, who gave details of what the Council was doing to raise achievement among BME students.


Highlight of the day was a short film made by local film maker John Barlow, featuring local young adults from the Muslim community speaking about their education and how they had succeeded.


Rafiq Raja commented, ‘We need to get the message across that education gives opportunities. The MPA plans to continue to work as hard as we can so that all children have those opportunities. We want as many people as possible to join us in our work. And we intend to hold Mrs Clayton to her pledge.



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