Black staff want equality checks

22nd November 2002 at 00:00
COLLEGES may have their performance on racial equality assessed by inspectors.

The proposal is included in the long-awaited report of the Commission for Black Staff in FE, launched at the Association of Colleges' annual conference in Birmingham this week.

Inspectors from Ofsted and the Adult Learning Inspectorate should be trained annually to "identify and report on progress towards race equality" within the common inspection framework, says the report, entitled Challenging Racism: further education leading the way.

Inspection reports would observe the progress of students from ethnic-minority groups.It says colleges should include a race equality element in training for staff, governors and managers. They should make sure formal recruitment procedures are used for all posts to reduce the risk of unintentional discrimination. Black staff should be encouraged to go for promotion and should receive support from focus groups and mentoring schemes.

The report says only 45 per cent of college have specific staff race equality training programmes, fewer than 20 per cent of colleges have targets for ethnic-minority representation, and 53 per cent use ethnic minority monitoring data.

Wally Brown, principal of Liverpool Community College, who will chair the group leading the commission's implementation phase, said he wants to see "robust action plans".

He said: "We will be able to see that we are getting some success when we can see more members of ethnic minorities moving up the management structure in colleges.

"We don't want to be prescriptive, the idea is to support colleges. We are assisting them to move forward by offering whatever help is required. Trades unions know they will have to put their own houses in order if they are to be taken seriously on the issue."

Paul Mackney, general secretary of the lecturers' union Natfhe, said: "I estimate 18 per cent of our staff are from ethnic minorities. That seemed pretty good but our offices are based in locations where the ethnic-minority population is bigger than that. So we've all got work to do."

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