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Schools: Equality

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL547, tabled on 24 May 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support schools which seek to create (1) equal, (2) racially diverse, and (3) inclusive, environments for their pupils.

Answered on

7 June 2021

All schools must offer a balanced and broadly based curriculum, which promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society, and prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.

In November 2018, the department published Respectful School Communities, a self-review and signposting tool to support schools to develop a whole-school approach which promotes respect and discipline: https://educateagainsthate.com/school-leaders/?filter=guidance-and-training-school-leaders. This can combat bullying, harassment and prejudice of any kind. It will help schools to identify the various elements that make up a whole school approach, consider gaps in their current practice, and get further support.

Citizenship education also plays an essential role in developing knowledge and understanding about the world today through teaching politics, democracy, power, the law, human rights, justice and the economy, as well as the changing nature of communities, identities, diversity in the UK and the UK’s relations with the wider world.

From September 2020, relationships education became compulsory for all primary school pupils, relationships and sex education compulsory for all secondary school pupils, and health education compulsory for pupils in all state-funded schools: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/relationships-education-relationships-and-sex-education-rse-and-health-education. These subjects are designed to give pupils the knowledge they need to lead happy, safe and healthy lives and to foster respect for other people and for difference.

The teaching workforce has become steadily more racially and ethnically diverse over the last decade, which is the period for which we have comparable data, although we know there is further to go to attract and retain diverse teachers who are representative of the communities they serve: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/school-workforce-in-england. Our recruitment campaigns are targeted at audiences of students/recent graduates and potential career changers of all ethnicities and characteristics.

Finally, it is important all children and young people are treated fairly and there is no place for discrimination in our education system. The Equality Act 2010 ensures that schools cannot unlawfully discriminate against pupils or staff because of their sex, race, age, sexual orientation, disability, religion or belief. The department has published guidance on the Equality Act 2010 for schools, which includes advice on how they can meet their duties under the act: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/315587/Equality_Act_Advice_Final.pdf.