Schools' guide to tackling prejudice

25th February 2000 at 00:00
Ministers spend pound;130,000 sending out an 'index for inclusion' that shows how to eradicate discrimination

EVERY school in England is to be sent a DIY guide showing them how to stamp out discrimination.

Ministers are spending pound;130,000 sending out an "index for inclusion", which will help schools identify inequality in three key areas: culture, policies and practice.

It encourages schools to identify barriers to learning and participation for groups such as disabled children and ethnic minorities. It then helps them decide priorities for change and evaluate progress.

A series of questions (500 in all) and activities guide schools through the process of identifying and tackling discrimination.

Schools can work their way through the index systematically, or dip in and out to focus on particular areas of concern.

The index, to be launched next month, has been developed by the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, Manchester University and Cantebury Christ Church University College. It has already been trialled in 23 schools.

It guides schools through a two- to five-year programme of self analysis and review, using questionnaires and investigations involving parents, pupils, the wider local community, teachers, other staff and governors.

The programme was originally intended to encourage special needs pupils into mainstream schooling.

But issues raised in pilot schools went beyond the initial special needs brief to cover the whole inclusion agenda - from bullying to racism, to communication between staff, governors, schools and parents.

As a result, one pilot school revised its policies and approaches towards Asian parents, after realising that it was not involving them in school life.

Another is now rethinking its policy on the school council, after a questionnaire showed that representatives were seen as teachers' pets and "geeks", and the last port of call for other pupils.

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