Why has the new duty for schools to promote community cohesion been introduced?
Background to the duty 2001 disturbances in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford Cantle report concluded that people from different groups were not mixing and were living ‘parallel lives’ LGA/ODPM/Home Office/CRE/Interfaith Network produced guidance on community cohesion in 2002 DfES/Home Office/CRE produced community cohesion education standards for schools in 2004 www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/pdf/commcohesion.pdf events of 7/7 2005 added new impetus to the community cohesion agenda, resulting in formation of the Commission on Integration & Cohesion (final report Our Shared Future published in 2007 www.integrationandcohesion.org.uk )
What does the law say about the new duty for schools to promote community cohesion?
Education and Inspections Act 2006, section 38(1)(5) “The governing body of a maintained school shall, in discharging their functions relating to the conduct of the school (a) promote the well-being of pupils at the school (b) in the case of a school in England, promote community cohesion.” Came into force on 1 st September 2007 From 1 st September 2008, OFSTED will include schools’ contributions to promoting community cohesion in their inspections
The ‘community’ has a number of dimensions: school community community within which the school is located UK community global community
What is community cohesion? Working towards a society in which: there is a common vision and sense of belonging by all communities the diversity of people’s backgrounds and circumstances is appreciated and valued similar life opportunities are available to all strong and positive relationships exist and continue to be developed in the workplace, in schools and in the wider community
Links with the equalities agenda race and faith are often seen as the most frequent friction points between communities, and the most visible sources of tension
However … schools should note that the focus of the duty is much wider and includes different: - cultures - ethnic groups - religious or non-religious groups - socio-economic groups - the disabled - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender communities - different age groups - different gender groups
Barriers to community cohesion Fear and ignorance - mistrust of different groups, particularly those new to the local community Stereotyping Perceptions of preferential treatment Lack of opportunity to interact
Schools contribution to community cohesion 1. Teaching, learning and curriculum 1. Equity and excellence 1. Engagement and extended services
Teaching, learning and curriculum helping pupils to understand others and value diversity promoting shared values promoting awareness of human rights, and applying and defending them developing the skills of participation and responsible action (e.g. through the new ‘Identities and diversity: living together in the UK’ strand within secondary citizenship education)
Equity and excellence (inclusion by another name) ensuring equal opportunities for all to succeed at the highest level possible removing barriers to access and participation in learning and wider activities eliminating variations in outcomes for different groups
Engagement and extended services providing reasonable means for children, young people, their friends and families to interact with people from different backgrounds and build positive relations links with different schools and communities the provision of extended services with opportunities for pupils, families and the wider community to take part in activities and receive services which build positive interaction and achievement for all groups
What will schools need to do? consider how different aspects of their work already support integration and community harmony take stock of what has worked so far, for them and for other schools consider where there may be scope to improve their existing work
Where can schools go for guidance around community cohesion?
DCSF guidance on the duty to promote community cohesion May be downloaded from: www.teachernet.gov.uk/wholeschool/communit ycohesion/