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Analysis of the Findings in Ofsted Race Relations Report by Sara Hashash

In the second part of this series, FE News reporter Sara Hashash looks at the findings of Ofsted’s Race Relations report, presenting an analysis of the findings and issues raised.


The Race Relations report identifies that the quality of leadership by senior managers played a pivotal role in the establishment of a cohesive ethos of equality. Strength at the management level was found to ensure high aspirations and high prospects amongst students. In a minority of colleges where there were fewer Black and Ethnic Minority learners ““ race was not considered a relevant or major issue.

In addition, mechanisms to measure the impact of policies and evaluate the findings of monitoring were found to be in need of revision and improvement. The report also revealed that in around half of colleges race-related data on learners” participation, achievements and career progress was not used effectively. However, the majority of colleges were found to be making positive contributions and improving race relations in their communities, quickly tackling and effectively dealing with racism in their areas.

Rising Overall Success

Colleges have been attracting BME learners at least in equal or greater proportions than in the local population. The report also uncovered that overall success rates for BME learners have risen above average, particularly in the 16-18 year old learning group. In a small minority of colleges however low achievements amongst BME learners were persisting despite a general move within FE colleges towards embracing principles of inclusiveness and support for learners.

In relation to quality of education, almost all colleges have monitored individual learners” progress using learning targets. A minority of colleges had even devised strategies specifically to improve the pass rates of underachieving groups. Training for teachers and other staff in approximately half of colleges surveyed was rated as insufficient, however.

In terms of governance, around a third of colleges governors had not received training on race relations legislation and the proportion of governors of BME heritage did not reflect the ethnic profile of the local community. In addition, not all governors were certain of their own role in ensuring progress regarding race relations.

Worst Case Scenario

The worst results were revealed with regards to staffing. Not a single one of the colleges assessed had a staff profile reflecting the ethnic profile of the local community.

Furthermore, few BME staff were found in middle and senior management posts. In addition, although the monitoring of the staff career progress in relation to ethnic group is mandatory under the Race Relations Act, most colleges did not comply with this duty. It was only in colleges located in multicultural areas with a high proportion of BME staff already that were most likely to have adopted a proactive positive action approach to developing BME staff careers.

The study also took into account the views of learners who identified that supportive teachers, a safe secure and positive environment where they were treated respectfully were the key strengths in their colleges. Encouragingly, learners gave few examples of problems relating to race.

Sara Hashash

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