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Policy Response

19th May 2003

Response to the DfES

Consultation Unit
Level 1b
Castle View House

19th May 2003

Dear Madam/Sir,

Re.: Aiming High: Raising the Achievement of Minority Ethnic Pupils - consultation response

The Runnymede Trust welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Aiming High Consultation. As you are aware the issue of raising the attainment of pupils from minority ethnic backgrounds is decades old. We acknowledge the significance of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 and that there have been some important programmes regarding access and participation in education, however, to date no single initiative or strategy has been seen to address the differential attainment of some minority ethnic groups. The following recommendations are made with this in mind:

1 Support for the voluntary sector

In addition to The Runnymede Trust, there are a number of voluntary and grassroots organisations, which are already carrying out some very constructive work in raising the attainment of pupils from minority ethnic backgrounds. All too often these organisations lack the funds and sufficient resources to implement their work in the ways that will be most effective. There is also a wealth of smaller groups, set up and run by professionals outside of their day-to-day work, committed especially to raising the achievement of Black pupils, who also would benefit from financial assistance.

2 Support for policy-related postgraduate research

There is considerable research being carried out at postgraduate level that can be seen to contribute directly to the debates concerning ethnicity and achievement. Runnymede welcomes research of this nature that may offer new perspectives to the debates and challenge current thinking in the area. Outside the limited funds and remit of the research bodies, no current funding schemes exist to support and encourage work in this area. We suggest that the DfES offers financial assistance to postgraduate students whose work will directly benefit educational policy.

3 Teacher training and awareness

In light of the Teacher Training Agency's findings, that teaching a diverse classroom ranks second in teacher trainees list of concerns, we recommend that the government ensures that race equality and cultural diversity are effectively and consistently taught in all ITT.

Training in this area should be a statutory part of INSET and CPD. It should also be targeted at all headteachers, Senior Management Teams and school governors.

In addition it is crucial that there be an evaluation of those trainers offering courses in this area, with a view to establishing a minimum list of requirements that all training providers should offer. The DfES should also establish an accredited, nationally recognised course for all EMAG teachers and other staff expecting to assist in minority ethnic attainment. We suggest that all training incorporates an opportunity for staff and trainers to reflect on their personal beliefs and practices and the way in which this may affect interaction with others. This would make a positive impact on the issue of respect and high expectations, crucial to establishing positive outcomes for minority ethnic pupils.

4 Effective teaching and learning

The Runnymede Trust encourages strategies to reflect diversity and all cultures in the curriculum and has recently published a handbook to support teachers in this area. The book, Complementing Teachers: A practical guide to promoting race equality in schools, provides practical examples of how to address diversity across all subject areas and key stages.

5 Wider definition of success

Many schools that do not meet the nationally recognised standards for success are succeeding in other ways. Often these schools have additional issues to face such as truancy. It is imperative that these schools are supported for steps that they take to address these issues. They should receive recognition for the progress they make to address such problems.

6 Engaging parents and the wider community

The DfES should commission independent research to establish good practice in encouraging home-school links and to determine in which ways more parents can be supported to establish a relationship with their school.

Yours sincerely

Nicola Rollock
Research & Policy Analyst (Education)

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