Checklist for multicultural awareness;Briefing;Governors

9th July 1999 at 01:00
Strategy for management.

l Suggest a special meeting of the governing body to carry out an annual audit. You might like to call this meeting Equal Opportunities For All or a title appropriate for the school.

* Ask the head to present the school's approach to multicultural issues.

* Find out whether a member of the school management has special responsibility to co-ordinate a whole-school approach.

* Understand the religious and cultural background of students and parentalcommunity concerns. Find out about different communities' celebrations and their implications for school life: open evenings, concerts, meetings about GCSE options and so on. Events should be timetabled to avoid religious holidays. A sports day in the middle of Ramadan when students are fasting all day is insensitive.

* Check if the menu in the canteen caters for religiouscultural needs of students. Are catering staff fully trained and aware of dietary requirements ? If the catering is carried out by an external caterer, are they well briefed ?

* Consider exchange visits, holidays or field trips: has the school considered the appropriateness of venue, food, dress code and so on?

* Look at safety aspects of trips and dress. For example: climbing, if girls do not wear trousers, may be unsafe; beach trips may not be suitable if students are not allowed to wear swimming costumes in mixed company.

* Check exchanges carefully: host schools abroad must be fully sensitive to your school's cultural background otherwise damaging discrimination can take place. Shockingly, one 12-year-old British black boy was asked by a host French family to sleep in a tent in the garden. Several French boys did not return on exchange as their families did not want them to stay with Asian and black British families.

* Say "first name" on school documentation, not "Christian name" * Ensure plays and concerts are sensitively chosen. Students must be equally chosen for parts. Governors constantly tell how blue-eyed, blond-haired students dominate performances, with black children relegated always to the chorus.

* Celebrate different cultural and religious holidays Strategy for parents.

l Check all parents are encouraged to participate in school life. Does the parents' association welcome those from all backgrounds?

* Look at yourselves: is the governing body a mirror of the local community? l Ensure that neither staff nor governors make stereotyped assumptions about parental marital status, background, or educa- tion of any community.

* Are there guidelines for "good practice" in multi-cultural awareness? The school must have a detailed racialsexual harassment policy. All staff (including non-teaching staff) should receive training in it.

* Is strict and appropriate action taken by all staff against offensive name-calling and language?

* Ensure that all students are treated equally. Governors have recounted how black students (especially boys) can be singled out unfairly on dress code. In particular, many schools are far more lenient to boys with long, straight hair than dreadlocks. This could be construed as direct discrimination under the 1976 Race Relations Act.

* Who sits on exclusion panels and who monitors practice (including temporary exclusions)? Do the same governors always sit on the panel?

Who checks whether appropriate information and advice is supplied to parents?

* The high exclusion rate of black students has been well publicised. The Government will insist on stricter local authority ethnic monitoring on exclusion. Is your school's practice fair to all students and families?

Strategy for staff training, recruitment and selection.

l Are all staff chosen in accordance with local authority policy? Are governors involved in the shortlisting process? Who monitors staffing applications?

* All staffgovernors sitting on staff interview panels should attend recruitment and selection training.

* New staff should receive an induction that covers anti-discriminatory issues, including a detailed session on the make-up of the school's population.

* All staff and governors should receive training in multi-cultural awareness.

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