Memorandum from the Commission for Racial
Equality (OFS 12)
The CRE commissioned research into
inspecting schools for race equality which reported in 2000. The
report criticised OFSTED's failure to embrace the role envisaged
for it in the Action Plan on recommendations from the Stephen
Lawrence Inquiry report, and the application of the framework
for school inspections.
The positive duty to promote race
equality in the amended Race Relations Act is being implemented.
OFSTED is subject to the duty as well as the schools, colleges
and LEAs which it inspects.
The CRE and OFSTED have established
a good working relationship
OFSTED's corporate plan makes helpful
references to race equality but does not reflect a leading role
in this area.
Training and guidance for inspectors
in `educational inclusion' is welcome. It needs to be followed
up vigorously and applied to other inspection areas.
Proposals for school inspection should
be assessed in terms of their impact on race equality.
Support for effective inspection
for race equality from good ethnic monitoring data is jeopardised
by delays to the DfES guidance.
The framework for LEA inspection
should reflect the positive duty more fully. It should cover the
need for LEAs to address issues such as educational segregation
highlighted by the disturbances in northern towns earlier this
1. The CRE has striven to promote the development
of good equal opportunities policy and practice in schools and
other educational institutions. Our most recent published guidance
for schools, Learning for All, standards for racial equality
in schools (CRE 2000) was distributed to all schools in England
and Wales and has become a standard reference for schools in auditing
performance and planning action. The CRE has long held the view
that inspection processes can play a critically important role
in challenging bad and promoting improved policy and practice.
The Government in its action plan responding to the recommendations
of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry report gave a lead role to OFSTED
in monitoring the implementation of strategies to prevent and
address racism in schools. In this context, in 1999, the CRE commissioned
research into the application of the schools inspection framework.
The ("Osler") report
1 found that OFSTED's role on race equality was not clearly articulated
or recognised. It found that training for inspectors in this field
was inadequate and that inspection reports' coverage of racial
equality issues - such as the reporting of differential attainment
by ethnicity - was generally either missing or of poor quality.
2. The Race Relations (Amendment) Act (RRAA)
2000 makes significant changes to race relations law. One of these
is to place a general duty on listed public authorities in carrying
out their functions to have due regard to the need to eliminate
discrimination and promote equality of opportunity and good relations.
Schools and colleges are among the listed authorities. So (as
a Government department) is OFSTED. Orders currently before parliament
provide for specific duties to be imposed on certain listed authorities
to help them meet the general duty. Particular specific duties
are to be imposed on schools and colleges when the orders come
into force on 3 December. They will be required, by 31 May 2002
to draw up a race equality policy and have arrangements in place
to review and monitor the impact of their policies. OFSTED - in
common with other Government departments and others such as local
education authoritieswill have a specific duty to draw
up a Race Equality Scheme with specified content by the same date.
OFSTED has welcomed these changes and said that it intends to
play a full part in ensuring schools, LEAs and others meet their
duties under the Act. On 3 December the CRE expects to publish
for consultation a draft code of practice giving practical guidance
to public authorities.
3. The CRE and OFSTED have established a
good working relationship which has included OFSTED assisting
in the development of the code of practice.
4. In some particular respects the Corporate
Plan 2001-02 reflects a role for OFSTED which embraces racial
equality. For example, there is reference
to the guidance on evaluating educational inclusion, "including
school practice on race equality" and to the associated training.
And mention is made of reports planned on the National Literacy
Scheme and inclusion `with special reference to minority ethnic
pupils and travellers and refugees',
on the use of the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant, on the achievement
of Black Caribbean pupils, and on school policy and practice on
However, there is in the plan no substantial focus on race equality
which measures up to the role the Lawrence action plan envisaged.
There are gaps: for example the section on "valuing [staff]
contains no indication that OFSTED will work towards staffingincluding
contracted inspectorswhich reflects the diversity of the
parent and pupil population. Most important, there is no reference
to the RRAA and the need for OFSTED to comply with the general
duty and to develop a Race Equality Scheme. Notwithstanding this,
the CRE understands that OFSTED has established a race strategy
unit to address this area of work and this is welcome. The CRE
looks forward to assisting in its work.
5. The CRE's chief concern about schools
inspections has been with the quality of application of the racial
equality elements in the inspection framework. The provision of
mandatory training for inspectors on educational inclusion completed
this summer was a major step forward. OFSTED are evaluating the
training by scrutinising all inspection reports in September and
October. CRE would like to see this supplemented with a questionnaire
to a sample of inspectors to explore, for example, their confidence
in applying the knowledge and skills they acquired. The new positive
duty to promote race equality will have to be carefully adapted
into inspection practice and OFSTED will have to assess what further
training needs have to be met.
6. OFSTED has recently consulted about Section
10 inspections, proposing that they should be more responsive
to schools' different circumstances and priorities; supportive
of school improvement; better informed about pupils' and parents'
views; and better co-ordinated with other inspection and monitoring
activity. The CRE's concerns are that:
Schools' self-evaluation of performance
is likely to have a more prominent role. Race equality has not
been incorporated in the self-evaluation framework or, except
locally, into relevant LEA training courses. It is therefore essential
that requirements relating to the positive duty to promote race
equality are built into all school self-evaluations.
Of the options for inspections the
CRE considers the flexible option may be the most effective in
helping OFSTED to meet its responsibilities under the positive
duty, because identifying and disseminating good practice is built
into the inspection model.
The availability of high quality
ethnic monitoring data on attainment, behaviour, etc is essential
to more supportive inspections. Schools will need to monitor to
comply with their race equality duties. In his last annual report,
HMCI identified ethnic monitoring as an area of critical weakness
in respect of race equality practice in schools and LEAs. The
CRE agrees. It is scandalous that on this central issue policy
makers at national level have to rely on patchy local monitoring
and national level sample surveys, and that schools often ignore
monitoring as a management tool. In his report HMCI welcomed the
Government's intention to introduce a comprehensive system of
ethnic monitoring in 2002. He risked being too optimistic. DfES
guidance for LEAs on the collection of ethnic data on pupils,
delayed more than once, is not expected to be published before
February 2002. The earliest that comprehensive data will be captured
at national level is January 2003. It is essential that there
is no further slippage in this project.
As part of ensuring that inspections
are better informed, it should be possible for parents to request
an inspection because of concerns that the school is not providing
effectively for racial equality or meeting its obligations under
the positive duty. Questionnaires for pupils could be a useful
way for inspectors to gain information on, for example, how well
the school handles racial incidents.
OFSTED should aim for a more diverse
pool of lay inspectors which would help ensure that people from
ethnic minority groups are better represented on inspection teams.
7. As stated above, LEAs are subject to
the positive duty. Most LEA functions will be relevant to the
duty. Inspection of an authority's compliance with its duty will
need to examine how challenging discrimination and promoting equal
opportunities and good race relations are addressed across all
relevant functions, including those which are contracted out.
OFSTED has recently consulted on the LEA inspection framework
and the CRE has suggested that the requirements of the positive
duty need to be embedded in the framework, not just in broad terms
but also in the detail. Particular points include:
Examination of the LEA's strategy
for school improvement should include its race equality strategy
Monitoring of the school improvement
function should include ethnic monitoring
Racial equality should be addressed
in the context of special educational needs.
In relation to promoting social inclusion,
the positive duty should inform the framework throughout: where
it refers to `combating racism' it should be supplemented by adding
the promotion of equal opportunities and good race relations.
In looking at corporate issues, the
framework should focus on how effectively race equality is addressed
in corporate plans and on the quality of leadership in this area.
8. The disturbances which took place in
several northern towns in the spring and early summer have focused
attention on the dangers of racial segregation in schooling as
well as residentially. The positive duty clearly requires LEAs
(and schools) to encourage good relations between people of different
racial groups. The framework needs to prompt an examination of
the LEA's information systems, strategies and policies on this
9. We have also drawn attention to the need
for the positive duty to be covered in best value review inspections,
and for the relevant training needs of inspectors to be identified
and met. The CRE looks forward to working with OFSTED to discuss
how these recommendations can be implemented.
4 Audrey Osler and Marlene Morrison, Inspecting
Schools for Race Equality: OFSTED's strengths and weaknesses,
Trentham Books, 2000. Back
Paragraph 7. Back
Paragraph 36. Back
Paragraph 38. Back
Paragraphs 110-117. Back