Divided Britain



In 2006, Radio 4 was given access to a ground breaking education scheme in East Lancashire which aimed to improve GCSE results and break down divisions in an area where white and Asian families live separate, parallel lives.

Following the disturbances in Burnley in the summer of 2001, schools were identified as having a crucial role in promoting community cohesion.

Lancashire County Council was given the go ahead to close 11 schools and reopen them as 8 new community colleges each with the aim of being a hub for the neighbourhood, where Asian and white families would come together and get to know each other.

The last of those £25 million buildings are due to open in September.

Marsden Heights Community College in Nelson moved into its new facilities after Easter.

Head teacher Mike Tull is excited by the opportunities that the building brings and hopes it will help engage parents in the area.

But what are the challenges he faces in breaking down cultural barriers in the former mill towns of Brierfield and Nelson?

Since the scheme began his school has gone from being 60% Asian students to nearly 80% and he says many white parents choose other schools for their children because of prejudice not standards of education.

Locals already describe Marsden Heights as "the Asian school".

And now a charity is looking to open an Islamic girls school nearby which many say threatens to further segregate young people.

Can these new "superschools" make a difference or are racial divisions becoming more entrenched?

Producer: Sally Chesworth

Presenter: Gerry Northam.

Reporting on tense race relations at a new school designed to promote community cohesion.


Reporting on tense race relations at a new school designed to promote community cohesion.

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Gerry Northam follows headteacher Mike Tull as he continues his attempts to bridge ethnic divisions through education, as part of a radical scheme to tackle underachievement and segregation in Lancashire mill towns.

Lancashire headteacher Mike Tull attempts to bridge ethnic divisions through education.

Teaching Tolerance *2008051320080518

Gerry Northam reports from Marsden Heights Community College in Pendle, Lancashire, opened in 2006 as part of a radical reorganisation of local schools designed to improve performance and help to integrate the white and Asian population of the area. Two years on, is the college achieving its goals?

01Schools, Segregation And Strife20070226

Burnley's race riots in 2001 were partly blamed on the way schools had reinforced segregated communities. Now its schools are being bulldozed and rebuilt in order to improve integration and raise educational standards. With unique access to staff and families, the programme charts the last term of the old schools and the birth of the new.

02 LASTRace, Rifts And Rebuilding20070305

Following families and teachers through the first term.