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Anti-racism: a beginner's guide;Briefing;Governors

Stephanie Segal has some tips for governors on how to start the battle against institutional prejudice in schools.

In the aftermath of recent findings on school institutional racism and the Macpherson report into the Stephen Lawrence murder, governing bodies should be reviewing their school's approach to race, religion and cultural awareness.

In many schools, the recent London bombings, and conflicts motivated by religious differences in Kosovo, Northern Ireland and elsewhere will be used for discussions on racial hatred, fascism and nationalism.

Many councils have excellent multi-cultural approaches to the curriculum and the training of teachers in anti-discrimination practice. More and more progressive authorities (mainly in Labour-controlled Metropolitan boroughs ) include all school staff and governors in the training.

Yet, in parts of the country which do not have a multi-cultural population, local authorities have not always been so committed. Many students, however, will eventually travel, live, work or study in a multi-cultural environment; those that remain locally should also have the opportunity to discuss such issues.

In schools, how should the governing body foster multi-cultural understanding? Ideally, by looking deeper than the classroom, ensuring all students (and their families and communities) are treated with dignity and fairness in every aspect of school life.

Governors should be reviewing how to ensure that students receive an education that considers discrimination, prejudice and stereotyping. In predominantly white areas, governors should also consider whether the school can develop close links with students in multi-cultural areas.

If your governing body has not examined the school's multi-cultural awareness, the strategies below offer a good place to start.

Stephanie Segal is a consultant and trainer. She can be reached on 0181 348 9008.

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