Select Committee on Education and Skills Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Professor Audrey Osler, University of Leicester (OFS 03)



  1.  OFSTED has a Government-designed role to monitor how schools address and prevent racism. This role is outlined in annual action plans from the Home Office, developed in response to the 1999 Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report.

  2.  In 1999 we were commissioned by the Commission for Racial Equality to investigate the extent to which the OFSTED school inspection framework and inspection reports addressed race equality concerns. We found that OFSTED's role in addressing race equality was not clearly recognised within the organisation or within the wider educational community.

  3.  Following our report (Osler & Morrison, 2000) OFSTED introduced a short course (one day of personal preparation, a second attending a course) for all contracted inspectors on "Educational Inclusion". This training has a clear race equality focus.

  4.  The Race Relations (Amendment) Act places a new positive duty on public authorities to promote race equality. From 31 May 2002 OFSTED and the schools and LEAs it inspects have specific duties under the Act. Specifically, OFSTED is required to publish a Race Equality Scheme indicating how it will fulfil these duties.

The school inspection framework and race equality

  5.  The school inspection framework which is currently being piloted needs to be accompanied by guidelines to inspectors to ensure that race equality issues are routinely addressed in reports. In our 2000 report to the CRE we made the recommendation that race equality issues are routinely covered in the summary report which is sent our to parents.

  This summary section is the one which is widely read and which LEA advisors and inspectors act upon.

  6.  The "Education Inclusion" training for inspectors needs to be followed up with further training to ensure that all inspectors understand the importance of race quality within their duties. Current training has served to raise levels of awareness, but it is not yet evident that all inspectors understand the processes of inspection as they relate to race equality. For example, this dimension is given little attention in some predominately white schools. Inspectors may check that schools are monitoring attainment and exclusions by ethnicity. They do not routinely report on how schools use the data they collect.

Initial Teacher Training (ITT)

  7.  The OFSTED Inspection Framework for the Inspection of ITT which was published in June 2002, following the implementation of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act, does not make explicit reference to the new positive duties of public bodies or to race equality more generally. Our experience in researching the School Inspection Framework suggests that unless explicit reference is made to race equality requirements they are likely to be overlooked.

  8.  The need for ITT providers to have clear and explicit policies on race equality, together with a clear implementation plan, is essential if we are to prepare new teachers adequately and overcome existing inequalities in attainment between ethnic groups. Recent research carried out on behalf of the DfES (Tikly, et al, 2002) confirm that these inequalities persist across the country. Student teachers from ethnic minorities remain vulnerable to racial harassment in school placements. For this reason it is critical that ITT providers have appropriate policies and practices for addressing this.

September 2002


  Osler, A., & Morrison, M. (2000) Inspecting Schools for Race Equality: OFSTED's strengths and weaknesses. Stoke: Trentham Books, for the Commission for Racial Equality (185pp).

  Tikly, L. Osler, A. Hill, J., and Vincent, K. (2002) Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant: Analysis of LEA Action Plans, Report to the Department for Education and Skills, London: DfES.

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