Headlines: April 23rd, 2007

COUNCILS URGED TO HELP SCHOOLS PREPARE FOR NEW COHESION DUTY

 

Councils are being called upon to act as brokers to help schools promote community cohesion before new legislation comes into force in September to compel schools to promote wider racial equality. The call has come from the Children’s Services Network.

Under the Race Relations Act, councils already have a duty to promote equality and good relations between different racial groups and many authorities have already given their schools guidance on bringing new approaches to race equality. The new legislation will mean a new obligation for schools and their governing bodies to promote community cohesion in the classroom.

Children’s Services Network policy analyst Phil Jones said the new law would also require schools to promote well being, a duty that has so far extended only to councils and partnership agencies. He said councils could now usefully act as brokers to help schools collaborate on promoting cohesion to meet their new duty. “This is a welcome means of schools seeing themselves as part of a family that have common interests rather than in competition with one another,” said Mr Jones, who added, “The only way this will work in practice is for schools to be brought together with the council acting as a broker.”

He said the new duty was already recognised as the role schools played in their local communities. If a community was not cohesive then that was reflected in the school, Mr. Jones said.

Another CSN policy analyst, Frances Migniuolo, said local authorities had the bigger picture of the areas they served and they could offer schools the practical ways they would need to work together to cope with racial tensions or flare-ups if they arose. The Network is to hold a conference, ‘Celebrating Diversity, Promoting Cohesion’ next month to help councils and governing bodies to prepare for the new legislation.