Schools could be forced to ensure pupils mix with children from different backgrounds

14th March 2018 at 09:30
Government also wants 'British values' to be promoted across the national curriculum

Schools where pupils come from a single ethnic or religious community could be required to ensure they mix with children from other backgrounds, under government proposals to encourage social integration.

The proposed Integrated Communities Strategy also calls on schools to teach "British values", and sets out plans to boost English language skills and encourage women from minority communities to find jobs.

A consultation paper on the plans – launched by communities secretary Sajid Javid with the backing of £50 million of government money – follows the 2016 Casey Review, which warned that social cohesion cannot be taken for granted in the multicultural UK.

Education secretary Damian Hinds said: "We want to make sure that all children learn the values that underpin our society – including fairness, tolerance and respect. These are values that help knit our communities together, which is why education is at the heart of this strategy.

"It's also important that children are taught in a safe environment and that we can act quickly if children are at risk or being encouraged to undermine these values. Together with Ofsted and communities across the country, we will build on the work already underway to achieve this."

Pilot scheme

Mr Javid's Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is seeking responses to proposed initiatives set out in a new Green Paper, which it has published after trailing the plans last week.

Among the proposals are:

  • Promotion of British values across the school curriculum
  • Measures to ensure young people have the opportunity to mix and form lasting relationships with those from different backgrounds
  • A new community-based English language programme, with a network of conversation clubs and support for councils to improve provision of tuition
  • Personalised skills training to help women from "isolated" communities into work
  • Increased take-up of the National Citizen Service


Five pilot areas – Blackburn, Bradford, Peterborough, Walsall and the London borough of Waltham Forest – will develop local integration plans allowing new strategies to be tested as the programme develops.

Mr Javid said: "Britain can rightly claim to be one of the most successful diverse societies in the world. But we cannot ignore the fact that in too many parts of our country, communities are divided, preventing people from taking full advantage of the opportunities that living in modern Britain offers.

"Successive governments have refused to deal with the integration challenges we face head-on, preferring to let people muddle along and live isolated and separated lives.

"We will put an end to this through our new strategy which will create a country that works for everyone, whatever their background and wherever they come from."

Pluralistic schools

Separately, thinktank British Future has released polling data suggesting a majority of voters would back schools teaching pluralistic British values (76 per cent), more support to learn English (67 per cent) and a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime and prejudice (79 per cent).

Some 63 per cent said the government should use national events such as St George's Day, St David's Day and St Andrew's Day to bring people together.

British Future director Sunder Katwala said: "Integration isn't just about British Muslims – it's an issue for all of us.

"So it's welcome that this Green Paper moves on from the Casey Review and broadens the integration debate. It could be an important step towards the national integration strategy that we've been missing – provided it's followed up by action."

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