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"Top London law school" tells MP Diane Abbott's team: "Black students don't take law"

PUBLISHED: 12:58 17 October 2012 | UPDATED: 14:33 17 October 2012

Josh Osho, Diane Abbott and Toby Bakare,

Josh Osho, Diane Abbott and Toby Bakare,

Archant

"Black students don't take law," a top London law school told MP Diane Abbott's staff, as they searched for gifted Black pupils for her award scheme - serving as a reminder why she organises it in the first place.

Gasps of disbelief rang around the audience in the House of Commons, as the MP for Stoke Newington and Hackney North gave her closing speech at the London Schools and the Black Child Academic Achievement Awards last week, which saw 24 pupils recognised for their achievements during their GCSE, A-Level and further education studies.

“We have had an excellent response to the call for nominations from schools and parents, but do you know a few weeks ago my staff rang around the top universities reminding them to nominate their students,” said Ms Abbott.

“These calls were met mostly by polite academics, but we also had some universities saying “We don’t have any students like that here,” we had one of the top law schools in London who even went as far as saying, “Black students don’t take law.”

“We have a way to go in breaking down preconceptions even amongst people who should know better so I’m proud to host these awards, proud to show the world and particularly this audience tonight what our young people can achieve, and proud to say to the young people who were shortlisted, never allow this society to make you stop believing in yourself.

“I meet young people who at quite a young age seem to think the most important thing is to be less working class, less Black, less African as if to be those things doesn’t go alongside achieving excellence, and my message has always been that you can be proud of your culture but you can also set the highest standards for yourself and you can also excel and reach the stars, like some of our celebrities here tonight exemplify.

Guest presenters at the awards which are now in their seventh year, included broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald, ex-Spurs and England defender Ledley King and Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu, along with singer Josh Oshu who provided entertainment afterwards.

The awards saw Finsbury Park resident Adam Elliot- Cooper recognised as the highest achiever out of the four boys nominated in the higher education category.

Adam graduated with a 2:1 in politics from University of Nottingham, has a master’s from SOAS in Globalisation and Development and is now commencing a PhD in Human Geography at Oxford University, but his achievements outside the classroom made him stand out.

Politically active, he is a member of the Black Boys Can Association, where he hopes to introduce a nationwide mentoring programme.

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