Race row marks trainee

March 8, 1996

A student teacher has accused Nottingham University of "blatant racial discrimination" after an internal inquiry into allegations of procedural irregularities rejected most of her criticisms and upheld the university's decision not to award her a certificate in education.

Subha Ktorides received a definite pass during her teaching practice at Aldercar school in Nottingham. She was placed there after withdrawing from a previous school due to "a terrifying ordeal of racial harassment" from pupils. The school was in an area well known for British National Party activities.

Aldercar school is understood to have threatened to end its association with the university's education department unless Ms Ktorides was awarded her PGCE.

A Nottingham University spokesman said Ms Ktorides's case had been investigated and the appeal committee had agreed with two of her eight points of criticism that procedural irregularities had taken place. However the university stressed that a fail decision would still have been reached in this case.

The spokesman said there had been a disagreement between assessors at the school and the university over Ms Ktorides's work, but a third independent examiner had verified the university's judgement. A resit has now been offered, an opportunity earlier denied to her.

Ms Ktorides said she had completely lost faith in the university and there was no reason for her to resit. "I was not a borderline case and I consider this to be blatant racial discrimination," she said. "The university has managed to absolve itself of responsibilities towards me on the grounds of academic infallibility. They might as well have failed me before I began the course."

Ms Ktorides said the university had failed to support her during her first teaching practice when she alleges she was subject to racial abuse. She said she withdrew from the school in Kirkby in Ashfield when her husband was also abused by pupils. "I don't believe I am a failure but I have been living with the spectre of insanity and suicide because of this."

The university spokesman said: "The school of education did give Ms Ktorides support throughout her studies and there is no foundation in any claim that the university has racially discriminated against her."

Ms Ktorides is being supported by the National Union of Teachers and her MP Alan Meale who wrote to Gillian Shephard Education and Employment Secretary asking for an independent investigation.

The request was denied on the grounds that "universities are autonomous bodies responsible for their own academic and administrative affairs".

The Council for Academic Freedom and Academic Standards has also taken up the case. A spokesman said: "Excluding the school from the decision-making process is academically absurd and makes a nonsense of the partnership system."

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