Community Cohesion for Schools

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Duty to promote community cohesion: draft guidance for schools

Purpose of this document
This document seeks the views of schools on the content of guidance on the implementation of the new duty to promote community cohesion under the Education and Inspections Act 2006. The final version of the guidance will be published in July 2007 and will be informed by the responses received to this consultation and examples of existing good practice in promoting community cohesion.

1. Introduction

The curriculum for all maintained schools should promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society, and prepare pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life[1].

Schools have a duty to eliminate unlawful racial discrimination and to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between people of different groups[2].

All schools will recognise these two important statements which are part of existing law. From September 2007 schools will also be under a new duty to promote community cohesion. Most schools already consider this part of their role, and already work in ways which promote community cohesion. This document looks at ways in which schools can build on what is happening already in the light of the new duty.

As migration and economic change alter the shape of our increasingly diverse local communities, it is more important than ever that all schools play a full part in promoting community cohesion. Every school should be a thriving, cohesive community, but it also has a vital part to play in building a more cohesive society.

Every school - whatever its intake and wherever it is located - is responsible for educating children and young people who will live and work in a country which is diverse in terms of culture, faith, ethnicity and social backgrounds. The staff and pupil populations of some schools reflect this diversity, allowing pupils to mix with those from different backgrounds. Others do not, and need to make links with other schools and organisations in order to give their pupils the opportunity to mix with and learn with, from and about those from different backgrounds. Through their ethos and curriculum schools can promote a common sense of identity and support diversity, showing pupils how different communities can be united by common experiences and values. The Diversity and Citizenship Curriculum Review published in February 2007 states that:

…we passionately believe that it is the duty of all schools to address issues of ‘how we live together’ and ‘dealing with difference’ however controversial and difficult they might sometimes seem.

This document seeks your views on the role that schools can play in promoting community cohesion, and on what approaches are most effective. These views will inform a fuller version of this guidance to be published in July 2007. Our aim is to bring together the best of what schools are doing already to help all schools to contribute fully to building cohesive communities.

This draft guidance is non-statutory and is offered to support all maintained schools in promoting community cohesion. It will also be of use to independent schools in maintaining the standards laid down in the Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2003. The draft guidance:

▪ Explains what is meant by community cohesion; and
▪ Describes how a school can contribute to community cohesion, outlining the work that many schools already do to promote community cohesion as a basis for all schools to consider what they already do and what more might be needed.

2. What is community cohesion?
By community cohesion, we mean working towards a society in which there is a common vision and sense of belonging by all communities; a society in which the diversity of people’s backgrounds and circumstances is appreciated and valued; a society in which similar life...
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