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FE News Reporter Sarah Chard Begins her Series

Ofsted is revising its “Race Equality Scheme” and has this month published a draft for consultation with Educators. Changes are being made from the original 2002 publication in light of the restructuring of Ofsted inspections (as from September 2005).

Her Maesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools (HMCI), Maurice Smith has written the foreword of the draft and is encouraging employees to express their views and comments by the end of April in order to further refine this updated policy. Ofsted has been working closely with the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) and has taken its comments into account in their latest publication.

Race Equality Scheme

Through its Race Equality Scheme (RES) Ofsted is aiming to improve education for all by encouraging good race relations in education. In order to accomplish this, Ofsted has used the monitoring of its workforce ethnicity as a starting point and hopes to build on this progress within the education sector throughout the country. Currently the proportion of minority ethnicities in senior and managerial roles within the civil service is far below population averages and Ofsted is aiming to curb this problem within its own ranks as well as encouraging overall balancing.

As Ofsted’s chief contact with education providers is in the form of inspection this is where they will have the greatest influence on the equality within education. Inspectors are able to pin point problem areas as well as encouraging an inclusive, planned approach to improving race relations and developing good practise. These inspectors are also planning to collect data and evaluate the progress made within their inspection reports, highlighting this issue as a key concern to officially dealt with in all inspections. Targets will be set for both employers and education providers and targets and benchmarks will be set to further solidify the individual aims for each provider.

The Key Areas

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Key areas have been highlighted for development including a balancing of the proportion of ethnic minorities filling senior and inspectoral positions within Ofsted. There are plans to ensure that all organisations inspected by Ofsted are meeting their statutory requirements and that diversity and race equality are specifically focused on, as part of the inspection.

Training and support are also to be increased in order to raise the awareness and focus of all staff members. Value and appreciation of all staff members has also been flagged as vital, and it is hoped that (through support) racial abuse and discrimination against staff can also be curbed.

After much work producing policy the hurdle is moving form the ideal and into effective implementation. Ofsted has identified a diversity champion from within its ranks, who will head up the coordination and implementation of the RES and an action plan has been set up which is yet to be published as an annex to the finalised report.

Sarah Chard

Read the next instalment of Sarah Chard’s series right here at FE News!

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