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In the fourth part of the series, FE News reporter Sara Hashash looks at the situation as found in the report, in colleges and in FE, and the impact of right ring politics on the activities of colleges.

Signs of Balance

Encouragingly, the vast majority of further education colleges included in the study had not only put in place effective mechanisms to tackle the issue of racism, but had also managed to successfully create a positive and diverse atmosphere of mutual respect, with staff setting a good example for pupils. In the small number of cases where race-related incidents had been reported swift and efficient action to settle the problem was seen to have been taken. Unpredictably, it was found that colleges in areas where right-wing political groups are active were more aware of their crucial role in achieving balance for the local community and were therefore actively working to provide a safe and harmonious environment for all learners.

Procedures for making complaints and policies on racial harassment were easily accessible at most schools and almost all learners said they felt their college provided a safe and secure environment. The report did, however, mention one college where racist attitudes were expressed as a result of a lack of determination on the college's part to promote the race relations act.

Need for Swift Action

The report's guidelines for good practice on tackling and preventing racism took into account the vital importance of raising awareness and the need for swift action, to be taken by senior level staff in order to dispel any racist behaviour. Poster campaigns to highlight the issue of discrimination and easily accessible complaints or anti-bullying procedures, as well as readily available support from teachers were also found to have a high impact on success.

Creating education initiatives, such as incorporating discussions of discrimination and diversity into the curriculum, and the collaboration with local anti-racism organizations was found to be successful. In addition, measures such as taking into consideration the social context, the levels of security at the college and ensuring the allocation of staff with the right skills and experience for their posts, were found to reduce race related incidents in schools.

Quality assurance was regulated by lesson observations, self revision undertaken by the college, leading to the college self-assessment report in addition to general monitoring of the impact of equal opportunities policies. The introduction of Equality and Diversity Impact Measures(EDIMs) by local Learning and Skills Councils (LSCs) has begun to have a positive impact. Surveys to establish learners" views were delivered abundantly but addressed issues of equal opportunities, fair treatment and their feelings about the levels of security and atmosphere at the college "“ rarely taking the race and ethnicity of participants directly into account.

Sara Hashash

Read the fifth part of the series right here at FE News!

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