Schools may be shamed over race
EVERY state school, college and education authority in Great Britain must make promoting race equality a central part of their work under new laws that came into force this week.
They must draw up a race-relations policy, assess the achievements of different groups and monitor the ethnic balance of staff and pupils under new rules amending the 1976 Race Relations Act.
Schools will also have a general duty to "eliminate unlawful discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and promote good relations between people of different racial groups".
Failure could mean a compliance notice from the Commission for Racial Equality followed by court action, although the organisation says that would be "a last resort".
Around 40,000 public bodies will be affected, including the country's 25,000 state schools. Commentators suggest the cost could run into millions but the Home Office denied this, saying organisations would build on existing work.
School governors will be responsible for implementing the rules and policies must be written by May 31. Guidance has been drafted by the commission suggesting how schools might fulfil their new obligations.
Its suggestions include changing admission arrangements so ethnic-minority pupils have equal access, and introducing mentoring for African Caribbean pupils with low attainment. The draft guidance will be sent to every school for consultation.
The laws also affect the Adult Learning Inspectorate, General Teaching Councils in England, Scotland and Wales, Teacher Training Agency and Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.
The commission believes the move could bring substantial benefits to schools, cutting exclusions, raising standards and boosting recruitment and retention.
Gurbux Singh, CRE chairman, said: "The best-attaining pupils are Chinese and Indian while African- Caribbean boys, Pakistani and Bangladeshi children and white working-class boys are the lowest-attaining. Trying to achieve greater parity will benefit everyone.
"African-Caribbean boys are six to seven times more likely to be excluded, and exclusions cause problems for schools.
"We are all in the business of trying to attract a diverse teaching workforce and these measures should help."
* Fears that all-black schools would increase racial tension have been dismissed by the head of a private black school in Toxteth, Liverpool.
Gloria Hyatt, head of the Elimu Academy, said all-white schools were not producing racists and an all-black school would not either.
"We need all-black schools for the specific purpose of addressing under-achievement, self-esteem, motivation and inequality in the treatment of blacks in predominantly white schools."
Nandini Mane, co-ordinator of the Working Group Against Racism in Children's Resources, added: "Black children, if empowered, will have more confidence and be able to deal with others better."
WHAT HEADS MUST DO...
* Ensure the school has a written policy explaining how it is promoting racial equality - but governors are ultimately responsible for this
* Ensure the school monitors the impact of this policy - for instance, are pupils from ethnic-minority backgrounds under-achieving? How can this be tackled?
* Ensure that, in everything it does, the school aims to: "eliminate unlawful racial discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and promote good relations between people of different racial groups"
* Schools are recommended to collect data to measure their performance - the CRE booklet explains how