Community Cohesion, Identity and Diversity to be taught in schools

Schools Minister Jim Knight will launch a week of national events by visiting a trailblazing scheme this week where schools with largely white pupils in rural areas link with those with a majority of Muslim pupils in urban Bradford to develop understanding, appreciation and shared values.

Sir Keith Ajegbo's review of Diversity and Citizenship in the curriculum, published in January 2007 recommended a week in which schools focus on exploring issues of identity, diversity and shared values. This will mark its first year.

Classrooms during the week will also consider challenging issues around faith, community, history and ethnicity. The Ajegbo report found that white working class boys and girls have a negative perception of their British identity and can feel as disenfranchised and negative about their British identity as non-white pupils..

The Bradford model of school linking Mr Knight is visiting has proven very successful in promoting community cohesion and led to the Government investing £2m, supported by £1m donation from the Pears Foundation, to establish the Schools Linking Network in October 2007 to support all schools across the country to set up linking projects.

Over 500 schools have formally announced their intention to get involved in the week, and planned activities include:

* cultural video diaries;

* cultural celebrations of dance, food and drama;

* visits to places of worship;

* firming up national and international school links;

* local research and community projects around local history and geography fieldwork;

* school debates around values, identities and diversity;

* guest speakers from the community;

* working with museums, archives and libraries.

From September Ofsted will begin to inspect schools on their duty to promote community cohesion. Activities like Who Do We Think We Are? Week and school linking are key ways the government is suggesting schools can fulfill this duty.  It will also help students and teachers prepare for the new 'identity and diversity' strand of the citizenship curriculum - which will be taught from September.

Minister for Schools and Learners Jim Knight said:

"Every school has a moral responsibility, regardless of the social or ethnic make-up of its pupils, to educate children so that they can live in, work in and enjoy our diverse society. That is why Ofsted will be inspecting schools on how well they promote community cohesion from this September."

Sir Keith Ajegbo said:

"People migrate, people travel, people trawl the globe on the internet. We are a world on the move. But do we know who lives around us? Why we live where we do? What is good and bad about our neighbourhood?

"I hope that 'Who Do We Think We Are' week gives pupils the opportunity to look first at their local communities and to study the relationships, the triumphs and the tensions around them. We believe the journey begins at home and then moves outwards to the wider UK and global contexts."

Posted by Asif Yusuf

Publisher of Diversity Link



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