Race complaint is not a row

4th February 2005 at 00:00
There is no "race row" at Croydon college as suggested in FE Focus (January 28).

Last year, we received one complaint from a senior manager which suggested that there was racism at an institutional level within the college. We treated that complaint seriously and contacted the Commission for Racial Equality to ask them to undertake an independent review. Such a response is in line with our commitment to equality and diversity and our ongoing initiatives and action plan for improvement.

When we contacted the CRE, it suggested we contact the Croydon Racial Equality Partnership since the CRE at the time did not have the resources.

However, as part of our commitment, we wanted the CRE, a large and national organisation, to participate, and this is when they recommended Focus Consultancy Ltd to undertake this review.

Focus Consultancy is an organisation with an international reputation for its expertise in equality, diversity and change management issues, and with a proven track record of conducting independent reviews within organisations of all sizes across a variety of sectors including education.

Professor Chris Mullard CBE, the chair and chief executive of Focus (and independent chair of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd), was keen to work with us and undertake a review over the next few weeks. This will examine the robustness of all our policies and procedures in ensuring equality and diversity at the college for all members of our college community and other stakeholders.

In order to assess the extent to which we are satisfying legislative requirements and to provide an opportunity to identify good practice, a key facet of the review will be a series of interviews with members of the college community.

More than 50 interviews will be conducted with a selection of staff drawn from support, academic and all levels of management and representing different ethnicities. Also, interviews will be undertaken with a cross section of students from programmes across the college.

As for the number of formal complaints we have received relating to equality and diversity issues, since I joined the College nearly four years ago, there have only been four and these were raised over a two-month period.

During this time, neither the CRE, Network of Black Managers nor Robin Landman (executive director of the Black Leadership Initiative) contacted the college to discuss any complaints they had received or any concerns they had about our policies or procedures.

Mariane Cavalli Principal and chief executive Croydon college. College Road. Croydon

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