The commission, chaired by Dr Tony Sewell, found Britain has become a “more open society” and that children from many ethnic communities “do at least as well or substantially better than white pupils in compulsory education”, but did not include all ethnic groups who still fall behind. The report also warned that racism did persist, especially on the internet.
The report makes 24 recommendations which are grouped into 4 broad themes:
- build trust
- promote fairness
- create agency
- achieve inclusivity
We have focused on the recommendations that are more applicable to education and schools which are summarised below:
- Set leadership expectations around neutrality: the commission said it would “welcome” the government setting “school leadership expectations around political neutrality and transparency on curriculum design” and recommended the DfE commission research into “whether schools are teaching in an impartial way”. Guidance already exists prohibiting political views in terms of behaviour and use of resources.
- Replicate the factors of educational success for all communities: Invest in meaningful and substantial research to understand and replicate the underlying factors that drive success of high performing groups. The commission found that black Caribbean pupils still do far worse at school than their white British and black African peers and recommended research to “understand what factors drive the success of high performing pupils’ communities including black African, Chinese, Bangladeshi and Indian ethnic groups, and how it can be replicated to support all pupils”.
- Invest in proven interventions through better targeted funding: systematically target disparities in education outcomes between disadvantaged pupils and their peers through funding, considering geographical variation, ethnicity, gender and socio-economic status.
- Funding needs to be “targeted at measures which specifically aim to tackle disparities in educational outcomes for disadvantaged groups”. This would include new additional funding to be used to “illuminate geographical variations” and ensure funding is sustained over time.
- Phase in an extended school day prioritising disadvantaged areas to provide pupils with the opportunity to engage in physical and cultural activities that enrich lives and build social and cultural capital. The education secretary Gavin Williamson has been urged to “urgently consider phasing in an extended school day”. Supplementary education “should not rely on the ability of parents to buy extra hours of education, or solely on the goodwill of communities to organically provide it.” This means funding would need to be secured and that a change in hours could support better flexible working arrangements.
- Making of modern Britain: teaching an inclusive curriculum. High-quality teaching resources are to be produced, through independent experts, to tell the multiple, nuanced stories of the contributions made by different groups that have made this country the one it is today. The DfE is to work with an “appointed panel of independent experts” to produce a “well-sequenced set of teaching resources to tell the multiple, nuanced stories that have shaped the country we live in today”.
- Improve safety and support for children at risk: develop a digital solution to signpost and refer children and young people at risk of, or already experiencing criminal exploitation, to local organisations who can provide support.
- Improve workforce diversity data: the teaching workforce is “disproportionately white.” The commission said all professions should “seek to represent the communities they serve”, but that improved “data collection, monitoring and quality of analyses” was needed.
- Set ‘clear’ diversity expectations for governors: an under-representation of ethnic minority groups existed in school governance, with 94 per cent of governors and trustees identifying as white. Governing boards will be given guidance on how to collect and publish data on board diversity as well as how to regularly review their membership and structure.
- Empower pupils to make more informed choices to fulfil their future potential: issue guidance to higher education institutions to help reduce disparities in applications at an earlier stage and monitored for effectiveness. The report recommended “funding outreach programmes and placing university outreach staff in schools to help reduce disparities in applications at an earlier stag
- Disaggregate the term ‘BAME’: stop using unhelpful terms such as ‘BAME’, to better focus on understanding disparities and outcomes for specific ethnic groups.
- Drop the term ‘temporary exclusions’ term: despite being published in May 2019, the Timpson report has not been implemented. The report which reviewed exclusions found that white Gypsy pupils, Roma pupils and Irish traveller pupils had the highest suspension rates, followed by mixed white and black Caribbean pupils and black Caribbean pupils. It made recommendations, although acknowledged the complexity of suspensions.
To read the full report click here