Race equality needs more promotion, says Agency

22nd July 2005 at 01:00
Most Welsh schools have yet to embrace race equality and some teachers are still using inappropriate words such as "coloured" to describe black and ethnic-minority pupils.

Inspection agency Estyn says few schools have made good use of guidance on promoting equal opportunities, issued in 2001, while a minority of schools with few or no non-white pupils believe race-equality education is of little significance to them. Race campaigners in Wales say more must be done to promote equality, particularly following the London bombings two weeks ago.

Chris Myant, director of the Commission for Racial Equality in Wales, said:

"We have got to raise the profile of race in education quite substantially.

"There are big issues here, especially since the suicide bombings. We have to make sure all pupils have a better understanding of their place in the world and can confidently handle what is thrown at them - whether that might be a white child vulnerable to racist ideas or a Muslim child vulnerable to fundamentalist ideas."

ACCAC, the Welsh qualifications, currriculum and assessment authority, issued guidance on promoting equal opportunities and diversity in 2001.

Schools and other public bodies are under a legal duty to promote race equality and tackle discrimination, arising from the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.

But while Estyn inspectors found nearly all schools have a race-equality policy, most have just copied model policies provided by their local education authorities, without adapting them to their school's needs.

A minority of schools - mostly those with a significant number of ethnic-minority pupils - have taken race-equality issues to heart and embedded them in day-to-day life.

And most schools address discrimination in lessons, particularly where exam-board specifications require pupils to study these issues, according to Estyn.

Schools have also tried to ensure new textbooks have less race and gender bias, and many promote role models from ethnic-minority groups, including from among pupils.

Attempts to recruit black and ethnic-minority governors have had limited success, according to Estyn, and there are not enough teachers from ethnic-minority backgrounds. But the agency concludes this is due to the lack of candidates enrolling for teacher training rather than "any lack of will to employ suitable candidates" by schools.

Fewer than one in 100 newly-qualified teachers who completed induction by March 2005 was from an ethnic-minority community, according to figures from the General Teaching Council for Wales (TES Cymru, April 29). There is no data available on the rest of the teaching workforce in Wales, but around 6 per cent of pupils are from ethnic-minority backgrounds.

The Estyn report highlights good practice in some schools. One Swansea primary holds occasional trilingual assemblies, in English, Bengali and Welsh. Another school used collective worship to explore race issues via Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder's hit song, 'Ebony and Ivory'.

Equal opportunities and diversity in schools in Wales, see www.estyn.gov.uk

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