Select Committee on Education and Skills Minutes of Evidence



Memorandum submission by the Commission for Racial Equality (OFS 01)


    —  OFSTED is bound by the positive duty to promote race equality arising from the Race Relations Amendment Act (2000). It has a specific duty to prepare and publish a Race Equality Scheme.

    —  OFSTED's Race Equality Scheme should be supported by an action plan.

    —  Many of the bodies that OFSTED inspects are subject to the positive duty. The CRE is seeking OFSTED's commitment to build the positive duty into all of its inspection frameworks.

    —  OFSTED needs to monitor how effectively inspectors inspect and report on race equality, including implementation of the positive duty.

    —  The CRE wishes to establish a collaborative working relationship with OFSTED which will include sharing information about racial equality good and bad practice.

    —  The commitments set out in OFSTED's Race Equality Scheme need to be integrated into their Corporate Plan.

    —  The School Inspection Framework needs to include an explicit requirement to inspect and report on the extent to which a school complies with equalities legislation including the positive duty.

    —  Race equality and the requirements of the positive duty need to be built into school self-evaluation materials and related guidance and training.

    —  Post-16 inspections need to take account of the Learning and Skills Council's (LSC) equality and diversity performance review measures, including the measure to review FE College performance against CRE guidance, endorsed by the Association of Colleges and LSC, Framework for preparing a race equality policy.

    —  The Framework and the Handbook for the Inspection of Initial Teacher Training (2002-08) do not explicitly require inspectors to evaluate and report on some of the key race equality issues affecting teaching training. OFSTED should issue further guidance and training to address this point.


  1.  The Government, in its action plan responding to the recommendations of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry report, gave OFSTED a leading role in monitoring the implementation of strategies to prevent and address racism in schools. In light of this, in 1999, the CRE commissioned research into the application of the schools inspection framework. The report[1] found that OFSTED's role in addressing racial equality was not clearly articulated or recognised. It found that training for inspectors on inspecting these issues was inadequate and that inspection reports' coverage of racial equality issues, such as the reporting of differential attainment by ethnicity, was generally missing or of poor quality.

  2.  In 2000 the CRE published Learning for All: standards for racial equality in schools. The standard was distributed to all schools in England and Wales and has become a standard reference for schools when auditing their performance and planning action.

  3.  OFSTED has developed and delivered guidance and training on evaluating educational inclusion for all school inspectors. Learning for All was used as a cross-reference when developing the guidance and training. The training is compulsory, and every inspector must complete the training in order to become or remain a registered inspector. Informal feedback from some LEA-based OFSTED inspectors suggests that the training and guidance have been very helpful, but that it has just "scratched the surface" and more guidance and training is needed.

  4.  The Race Relations Amendment Act now places a positive duty on listed public authorities, in carrying out their functions, to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful racial discrimination and promote equality of opportunity and good race relations. In addition to this general duty, some public authorities have specific duties placed on them. OFSTED, and many of the bodies they inspect, such as schools, colleges and local education authorities, are among the listed bodies that are subject to both the general duty and to specific duties. As of the 31 May 2002, OFSTED was required to have prepared and published a Race Equality Scheme setting out its arrangements for meeting the general duty and its specific duties.

  5.  OFSTED has published its Race Equality Scheme. The Scheme is a positive attempt to address race equality issues within OFSTED, but there are areas of the Scheme where improvements are needed. The Scheme also needs to be supported by an action plan.

  6.  The duty to promote race equality applies to all functions that are relevant to race equality, including inspection. The CRE has produced guidance, The Duty To Promote Race Equality: A Framework for Inspectorates, and is working very closely with the national forum for inspectorates and individual inspectorates, including OFSTED, to build inspection of the positive duty into inspection frameworks. OFSTED have indicated that they will use the guidance to help build the positive duty into their various inspection frameworks and supporting guidance.

  7.  It is essential that OFSTED monitor how effectively inspectors inspect and report on race equality, including implementation of the positive duty. OFSTED has made a commitment to examine and report on school race equality policies, and schools' arrangements for meeting their other duties. We are, however, concerned that this message, and what it means in practice, is not getting through to all inspectors. For example, a head teacher of a predominantly white school contacted us to express concerns about the OFSTED inspectors who recently inspected her school. The Head stated that the inspectors dismissed the work that she and her school had put into preparing a race equality policy and meeting the positive duty as not particularly relevant because the school had a very small ethnic minority population. She was keen to stress to us that she saw race equality as an important issue, because the school had a very small ethnic minority population. We support her view and emphasise that the positive duty applies to all maintained schools, irrespective of their ethnic make-up.

  8.  The CRE is seeking to establish effective collaborative relationships with individual inspectorates. In particular, we are keen to identify ways in which we can share information, for example, so that racial equality concerns relating to a particular public authority can be used to inform pre-inspection decisions. OFSTED have not yet given their commitment to a collaborative working relationship of this type.


  9.  In some particular respects the Corporate Plan 2001-02 reflects a role for OFSTED which embraces racial equality. For example, there is reference[2] to the guidance on evaluating educational inclusion, "including school practice on race equality" and to the associated training. And mention is made of reports on the National Literacy Scheme and inclusion "with special reference to minority ethnic pupils and Travellers and refugees"[3], on the use of the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant, on the achievement of Black Caribbean pupils, and on school policy and practice on racial equality[4]. However, there is no substantial focus in the plan on race equality that measures up to the role the Lawrence action plan envisaged. There are gaps: for example, the section on "valuing [staff] diversity[5]" contains no indication that OFSTED will work towards staffing—including contracted inspectors—which reflects the diversity of the parent and pupil population. Most important, there is no reference to the need for OFSTED to comply with the general duty and publish a Race Equality Scheme.

  10.  OFSTED has published its Race Equality Scheme and this does address some of the concerns highlighted above. For example, the Scheme sets out how OFSTED will meet the specific duties in employment, and makes a commitment to take action tackle under-representation and remove barriers and promote equality of opportunity. However, if OFSTED is to demonstrate its full commitment to race equality, these should also be included in the Corporate Plan.


  11.  The CRE gave extensive comments on the consultation draft of the inspection framework for schools. We have not seen the latest draft of the inspection framework and cannot, therefore, comment on the version that is to be piloted over the next few months. The comments made here relate to the consultation draft:

  12.  In our consultation response, we stated that the framework should include an explicit requirement for inspectors to evaluate and report on whether schools are complying with statutory equalities legislation. We stressed that the point should be a main bullet point because this means that inspectors MUST evaluate it, rather than a sub-bullet, which only requires inspectors to consider as appropriate. We suggested that the bullet point says:

    —  "How far and how effectively the school complies with duties under equalities legislation, including the duty to promote race equality".

  13.  School inspections are making greater use of school self-evaluation. We stated that it is essential that the requirements placed on schools by the duty to promote race equality are integral to, and addressed explicitly in all self-evaluation materials, guidance and training. We also said that there is a need for consistency between what OFSTED does in relation to self-evaluation and the work done by other bodies such as the National College for School Leadership and the DfES. The draft inspection framework and the related guidance have a critical role to play in shaping what is addressed in self-evaluation training and guidance materials.

  14.  The "S Forms", which schools complete prior to inspection, require schools to provide ethnic data on the attainment and progress of pupils and on exclusions. Schools have a specific duty to monitor and assess the impact of policies on pupils from different racial groups. It is essential that guidance given to inspectors makes it clear that they should evaluate how effectively schools use ethnic data on performance and progress and exclusions to inform planning and decision-making.


  15.  The Common Inspection Framework for post-16 inspections requires inspectors to inspect and report on equality issues. However, equality is looked at generically and this could mean that race equality issues are not addressed explicitly in an inspection. It is essential that post 16-inspectors inspect and report on race equality and the positive duty.

  16.  We have met with the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) and plan to have a further meeting with both OFSTED and the ALI to identify how inspecting the positive duty can be built into post 16 inspections. One issue that needs to be addressed concerns the fact that the Common Inspection Framework covers bodies (such as FE Colleges) that are subject to the positive duty, and bodies (such as private and voluntary organisations) that are not bound by the duty. Our key concern is that the common process does not become an excuse for inspectors to not inspect compliance in those institutions which are covered by the duty. An important point to note here is that the Learning and Skills Council, in its Race Equality Scheme, has made a commitment to monitor implementation of FE Colleges' race equality policies as part of college performance reviews[6]. We believe that this provides post-16 inspectors with the grounds to inspect and report on implementation of the positive duty in FE Colleges.

  17.  In addition, we believe that LSC performance reviews should require all providers, including those that are not directly subject to the positive duty, to address the essence of the duty[7]. Inspection of all providers should, therefore, be looking for evidence of compliance with the general duty. Prior to the revision of the Common Inspection Framework and supporting guidance, we recommend that OFSTED and the ALI issue interim guidance to inspectors which makes it clear that they should be inspecting and reporting on implementation of the positive duty.


  18.  There are a number of race equality concerns relating to initial teacher training. One concern relates to the recruitment of people from ethnic minorities to teaching. The Teacher Training Agency has a target of increasing the percentage of people from ethnic minorities who are recruited to teacher training to 9% in the year 2005-06.

  19.  Another concern relates to retention. Informal feedback suggest that the proportion of ethnic minority trainees dropping out of teacher training is higher than the average, although there is currently no statistical evidence available to enable these concerns to be substantiated. Further and higher education institutions have a specific duty placed on them to monitor the admission and progress of students for different racial groups. This duty will mean that, in the future, Teacher Training Establishments should be able to provide ethnic data on retention rates of students.

  20.  Allied to the issue of retention, there is evidence that some ethnic minority students encounter racial harassment and discrimination whilst on placement. It is vital that all Teacher Training Establishments have clear race equality and racial harassment policies and take action with the placement school to ensure that there is no repetition.

  21.  If students leaving Teacher Training Establishments are to be fully effective as teachers then they need to be able to teach and support pupils from all racial groups, and to address and tackle racism when it occurs. Teacher Training Establishments need to ensure that their teaching programmes enable trainees to gain and practise these skills.

  22.  The OFSTED Handbook for the Inspection of Initial Teacher Training (2002-08), which includes the framework and supporting guidance for inspectors, sets a number of questions and statements which inspectors must use when evaluating and reporting on an Initial Teacher Training provider. Race equality and the requirements of the positive duty are incorporated into guiding statements in the section on inspecting management and quality assurance."[8] The CRE welcomes the explicit inclusion of these statements in the Handbook, but is concerned that race equality is not adequately addressed throughout the rest of the document. We are particularly concerned that the Handbook focuses on the procedures and does not explicitly require inspectors to inspect and report on key issues such as:

    —  how well trainees are equipped to teach and support pupils from all racial groups,

    —  whether trainees are equipped to promote tackle racism and promote equality of opportunity and good race relations in the classroom,

    —  whether the provider adequately supports trainees who are the victims of racism and racial harassment, and

    —  whether there are variations in the retention for students from different racial groups.

  We recommend that OFSTED take steps to address this issue by providing Inspectors of Initial Teacher Training with further guidance and training.

September 2002

1   Audrey Osler and Marlene Morrison, Inspecting Schools for Racial Equality: OFSTED's strengths and weaknesses, Trentham Books, 2000. Back

2   Paragraph 8. Back

3   Paragraph 36. Back

4   Paragraph 38. Back

5   Paragraphs 107-117. Back

6   The Race Equality Scheme states that Colleges will be reviewed on their work to implement "Framework for Preparing a Race Equality Policy". The guidance was issued jointly by the CRE, LSC and Association of Colleges. In meeting the recommendations set out in this guidance, colleges should be covering their arrangements for meeting their other duties. Back

7   The LSC is introducing Equality and Diversity Impact Measures which will be used to measure recruitment, retention and achievement of learners by race, gender and disability. Back

8   Handbook for the Inspection of Initial Teacher Training (2002-08), pages 9 and 10. Back

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