From education to employment

New Beacon Award Sponsored by Agencies to promote Good Practice

Inclusion and participation are set to receive more support than ever with the news that a new Beacon Award is to be sponsored by the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) and the Network for Black Managers (NbM).

The Beacon Awards were launched in 1994, and are designed to promote the dissemination of best practice and a culture of sharing and cooperation towards a common goal amongst FE institutions and professionals. The newest addition to this achievement firmament is one focussed primarily on issues of equality in FE, both to build better practice but also to acknowledge the excellent progress that has already been made.

Higher Standards

The award is designed with the idea of promoting best practice and a commitment to race equality practices in FE and sixth form colleges across England. This is in keeping with extant obligations in accordance with the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 (RRAA), fighting to eliminate racial discrimination. It is intended that meeting these requirements will build a culture of acceptance, tolerance and participation, building ties between different communities.

Colleges have also received the recent Learning and Skills Council (LSC) initiative, the Race Equality in Employment Standard (REES). This serves to set standards for incorporating best practice measures and is an asset in meeting the inclusion and social cohesion directives from the Success for All section of the LSC’s Agenda for Change. The REES and the RRAA work together with the common focus; making sure that race equality is incorporated into policies and procedures that affect both staff and learners and furthermore, that race equality targets are being constantly assessed.

The Assessment

The Beacon Award will be subject to a strict assessment procedure to ensure that criteria are met. First of all, the institution will have to possess inspirational and active management and leadership to promote the college’s equality policies and practices both within the college and beyond its walls. Then, the policies and procedures will need to give evidence of undergoing audits to continuously develop and improve the standard of provision.

The colleges will also need to interact successfully with the local community and respond to the specific local demands, setting ambitious equality and participation targets that reflect the community within which they work. The college would need to demonstrate practices that support the sharing of best practices, and finally, would have to assure the assessors that black staff are fully supported through the use of either support groups or interaction with national networks.

The CEL has long been a strong proponent of building participation in the FE sector. The head of diversity at the CEL, Deborah Persaud, summed up her agency’s commitment by saying: “We are very pleased to be working in partnership with the NbM to offer the opportunity to recognise the best practice that already exists within the sector.”

Jethro Marsh

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